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Free BlackBerry Apps: Your Smartphone's 10 New Best Friends

CIO.com's BlackBerry-watcher Al Sacco offers up details for ten of his favorite, free BlackBerry smartphone applications

  • Speedtest for BlackBerry Ever wondered just how fast your BlackBerry's 3G connection is at home compared to its speed in the office? Or wanted to determine whether you get faster speed from your home Wi-Fi network or 3G? Speedtest for BlackBerry gauges wireless download and upload speeds for RIM smartphones on GSM 3G, EDGE and Wi-Fi. I wouldn't get too worked up about the specific numbers Speedtest provides, but it works wells for comparing connectivity speeds, since any inaccuracy in readings presumably affects all measurements equally.

  • True BlackBerry lovers, or "CrackBerry" addicts, if you will, can never have too many BlackBerry apps. This steady demand for apps is no secret, and nary a week goes by that I don't some see some BlackBerry blog or mobile site offer up its "Best BlackBerry Apps" list. But most of these posts profile "commercial" applications that you have to buy. Sure, plenty of BlackBerry software is well worth the scratch developers charge for it. And you can call me "cheap," but it's sticks and stones that break this blogger's bones; I'd much rather get a valuable app for free than dish out cash. On that note, I've compiled a list of ten free BlackBerry applications that I use regularly. Every one is worthwhile—and you won't have to part with a single dime. I know some BlackBerry users prefer to avoid BlackBerry App World, RIM's software store, and some of you folks reside in locations where App World's not available. So I've provided non-App-World download links where possible. Happy app-ing!

  • Buzzd for BlackBerry You've got Poynt for local search, Urbanspoon for culinary-specific queries and Google (GOOG) for everything else. But what if you're looking for the hottest, "poppin'-est" spot in your area at a given time? Buzzd to the rescue. Buzzd for BlackBerry uses input from social networks like Twitter to determine the bars, nightclubs and other hotspots nearest you with the most active social media users. And the app's "Buzzometer" points you in the right direction. You can also read reviews and check images of specific locales from other users and contribute your own opinions. (Note: Buzzd works best in populated or urban areas.)

  • Navita Translator for BlackBerry If you've ever found yourself in need of a quick translation and you own a BlackBerry smartphone, Navita Translator is for you. The app's basic interface makes it simple to translate words or phrases that you type into its text field. And Navita integrates with the core BlackBerry messaging, SMS and browser apps, so you can translate text directly from these sources, as well. Its conversion isn't always perfect, but it's still a valuable tool. Navita supports English, Portuguese and Spanish, and it translates into 52 additional languages.

  • UPS Mobile for BlackBerry This free mobile app for BlackBerry lets you track packages sent via UPS and enter shipping information for parcels, as well as locate the closest UPS stores. Packages can be tracked without logging into an account, but more advanced functionality is available after login, including the ability to create new shipments using the "My UPS" address book and determine specific shipping rates and durations. The application also displays your history of tracked shipments, automatically refreshing whenever you reopen the app.

  • Movies for BlackBerry I'm a film-buff and a "CrackBerry" addict. And my mobile-movie-app of choice is Flixster's Movies for BlackBerry. The free app gives you access to a variety of movie- and cinema-information, including show times for local theatres, maps and contact details to help you get there, ticket prices and more. And you can use the app to purchase tickets online via MovieTickets.com—though the process is a bit more awkward than I'd like. You can also watch movie trailers in some cases and read film-reviews from RottenTomatoes.com.

  • Poynt for BlackBerry I've mentioned Poynt numerous times in the past, but this search/movies/uber-app just keeps on getting better. The latest version does everything you'd expect from a local-search app—finds restaurants and other establishments, provides contact information and maps to find your way—and it's both great-looking and easy to use. Poynt's also a full-fledged movie-app akin to Flixster's Movies software. And a little bird just told me Poynt's about to get a new, weather-related boost from AccuWeather&shhh! In other words, you want this app on your device. Like now.

  • Urbanspoon for BlackBerry I use Urbanspoon for BlackBerry every time I travel to help find whatever type of food I may be in the mood for—and I get around. The Urbanspoon app is an easy-to-use "restaurant slot-machine" of sorts that lets you specify which kind of food you desire, where you'd like to find it (neighborhood, etc.) and in what price range. And if you're indecisive, you can enter in just a neighborhood and/or price range, and the app serves up all the nearby establishments that meet your criteria.

  • Tvider for BlackBerry There's no shortage of mobile Twitter apps on the market. But Tvider is unique in that it's not just another full-fledged Twitter client. Rather, it's a multimedia-focused app meant to bring pictures, audio and video directly from your BlackBerry to the Twitter "micro-blogging" service. Just open up Tvider, snap a pic, capture a video clip or record an audio snippet, include some description text and hit "Update." Voila, you're on Twitter. I just hope you're ready for that close up

  • NBA Game Time Lite for BlackBerry There are few things I love as much as my BlackBerry. NBA basketball is one of them. Many sports apps are available for BlackBerry, but I prefer the ones that focus on a specific sport instead of jamming them all into one confusing interface. NBA Game Time Lite is just that: A simple BlackBerry app that provides quick access to live game scores, player and team stats, league standings and more. Full disclosure: I use the $10 Game Time app for access to live-game audio, but your average round-ball fan should be just fine with the free "lite" version.

  • Foursquare for BlackBerry In Foursquare, the latest social-networking-craze, users "check-in" to the various places they frequent, and attempt to gain more check-ins than friends and other Foursquare users to secure badges and "Mayor" titles for favorite establishments. Since the service is employed mostly on the go, there's no better way to get in on the fun than with the new BlackBerry Foursquare app. It's still in beta, and it's far from perfect. But the app works well-enough for me to recommend it here. (Warning: Stealing away my Mayor titles is grounds for fisticuffs in my book!)

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