Free BlackBerry Storm Apps: Seven Essential Downloads

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The weeks following the release of the Research In Motion's first touch screen BlackBerry, the Storm, on November 21, were unfortunately filled with complaints from users, reviewers and critics alike regarding the extremely poor quality operating system that shipped with the device. And rightly so; RIM and Verizon Wireless rushed out buggy OS code that was simply not ready for prime time, in order to meet previously stated release dates.

[ For more BlackBerry apps see: Finding BlackBerry apps: 3 App World alternatives and Free BlackBerry apps: Five can't-miss downloads]

However, behind the scenes, a variety of mobile software developers were studiously working those weeks away on new applications for the much-anticipated device. Now, less than a month later, Verizon has updated and improved the Storm OS, and many of those apps are starting to pop up on the Web. Best of all: Many of them are free.

Not all of the following applications were developed specifically for the Storm, but each and every one functions well on the device--with the exception of a few minor bugs. I've mentioned most of the apps in previous free BlackBerry software stories, but that was before the Storm landed and before anyone knew whether or not they'd work on RIM's first touch BlackBerry.

(Note: All of our recommended applications were downloaded and tested using a Verizon Wireless BlackBerry Storm 9530 running OS 4.7.0.75, the latest official Verizon release.)

WeatherBug for BlackBerry Storm: Makin' it Rain

One of my personal favorite free BlackBerry applications, WeatherBug is a unique and valuable mobile weather app. The software creates a dynamic icon on your BlackBerry home screen that updates itself according to your local weather conditions--or the weather conditions in a pre-specified locale. For instance, when it's partially cloudy, your WeatherBug icon displays an image of the sun with a cloud eclipsing it, as well as the current temperature and the day's predicted high and low. And when the weather changes, the icon is automatically modified accordingly.

The software pulls its information from the company's WeatherBug Network, which it claims is the largest, most technologically advanced weather system in the world, at more than five times the size of even the U.S. National Weather Service.

WeatherBug is available for a variety of BlackBerry devices, but the Storm specific-version is different in that you can employ touch-based gestures for navigation. And the app utilizes the Storm's built-in accelerometer to determine the device's orientation--portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal)--and customize the display accordingly.

Additional WeatherBug features include the ability to view a weather summary for the current day, with metrics like dew point, wind chill/heat index and humidity levels; seven day forecasts; maps with numerous overlays including current temperature and precipitation; and local weather alerts.

WeatherBug for the BlackBerry Storm is available for free over-the-air (OTA) download via the BlackBerry browser.

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