Sunday, May 8th, 2011...11:40 pm

Bye Bye Blackberry, Hello App World

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I held on to my Blackberry phone for way too long. If you have an app phone you already know this. It came to the point where I was embarrassed if someone in the digital know spotted me with it. I felt like a suit.

The actual BB phone is a decent device. They do work well for email, especially synching with Microsoft Exchange servers, but it’s the software and operating system that has bit the dust. Blackberry has an app environment that makes the Knicks defense look fierce. Besides half-ass Twitter and Facebook apps there just isn’t much else there. Developers would rather debug a Windows 6 browser than build a Blackberry mobile application (that means they don’t like to do it). Heck, there’s no Angry Birds. It’s like the blackberry platform has the cooties.

The reason I stuck with Blackberry for so long is that it does have my all-time favorite application, Blackberry Messenger. I used BBM as a way to communicate in real time with my family and friends and would banter on in never-ending group chats that would rival the chit chat of a teenage valley girl. I’m not sure why Blackberry never really promoted this application. My guess is they are too consumed by the corporate market.

But one app (well two if you include Brickbreaker) doesn’t make a digital ecosystem. The future of the web is mobile and the future of mobile is third party applications. Somebody forgot to ping RIM and fill them in on this.

Serendipitously, there’s a bunch of unlocked Android phones lying around in my office. So I slipped my SIM card (ahh, now I remember why I have T-Mobile) into an HTC G2 phone and entered the future.

I went straight for the apps.

The G2 is a Google phone so it came pimped out with Google apps including Maps, Earth, Places, Youtube and Finance. I also added Google Reader. I have searched in vain for years on Blackberry to find an adequate RSS reader application (Viigo coming the closest) and literally solved that in seconds.

I’m amazed by Google Voice, which both instantly transcribes and plays back my voice messages. According to Mr. Hillman my inability to answer voicemail was my obvious major downfall in an otherwise very flawed existence. But Google Voice makes it so damn easy to listen to messages that my cover is now most certainly blown when I flake out on him…or you.

For sports, I’ve added ESPN ScoreCenter application, ESPN Radio and the CBS Sports application to track my fantasy team.

I added Pandora and can’t wait to get me some Spotify, or even Grooveshark! I find myself streaming music instead of listening to my iPod. It kills battery way too quick though. I even have the soothing sounds of Bollywood thanks to the Saavn App (which is the reason the phone was lying around).

I’ve also added Yelp, Dropbox and Fandango. Yelp is great that it shows you what’s around wherever you are. Dropbox is intriguing as I can now store all my important docs in the cloud and access them at any time via my phone.

I’m still messing around with communication apps to replace BBM and so far have been using Google Talk and Beluga. Beluga is the cloest thing I’ve found to BBM and does a nice job with group chats but not many of my friends are using it (although it does send to text if the person doesn’t have the app). None of these are the perfect replacement and I do feel a bit disconnected from my world.

I was always a bit of a gamer with console devices and wondering if I’ll get back into it with this new phone. Download the usual stuff but do let me know if there are any games you suggest I download. FYI, I don’t like scrabble.

I’ve almost completely stopped using the mobile web browser for everything except google searches (baffled that Google hasn’t created a better mobile search app). If I find myself repeatedly going to a website, I’ll search for a comparable app and use that instead.

It’s this simple: For mobile apps are replacing the web.

As for the actual phone, well, it’s sort of a brick. I liked the idea of having a touch screen with a snap out touch keyboard. But the phone is clunky and doesn’t seamlessly switch between different input states nor does the screen always rotate when the orientation shifts. The keypad isn’t as good as a blackberry and then touch screen isn’t as crisp as an iPhone. The camera and video camera are exception though and easy to see why Flip shut down.

Worst of all, my new phone randomly powers off throughout the day. It’s kind of like Zach Randolph’s basketball career. After cruising through some nerdy message boards I figured out it might actually be loose battery issue. It baffles my mind that they couldn’t test for this. Instead, I’ve gone MacGyver by stuffing the battery into place with microscopic pieces of index card. I also switched out the memory card and that may have been the fix as this has stopped happening in the last few days.

But I’m not too worried about the phone. If I don’t acclimate to this one I’m sure there are better devices out there. And I still might go down the iPhone rout. I recently switched to a Macbook Air and I’m now in awe. It makes my thinkpad feel like a Commodore 64.

Would like to hear what phone you have and what apps you are using. Oh and if you still have a Blackberry, well then, you still have a Blackberry.