I admit to being a purist. I prefer native apps to Android ports. Built for BlackBerry apps give me the best user experience on my Z30, but apps that have been ported into BlackBerry world are a close second. Android apps? I was reluctant to use them at first, worried about battery drain or security loopholes, but I’ve mellowed out a bit with time. As a rule, I don’t download an Android app if there is a BlackBerry version available. I have the Amazon app store installed on my phone, and it’s pretty nice, if rarely used. There are, however, three Android apps that I am unwilling to live without: Waze, the Starbucks app, and Netflix.
“But wait” you say, Waze is in BlackBerry world. Technically that’s true but the version of Waze available in Blackberry World is outdated, full of bugs, and kept crashing on me. I got so sick of having to change the distance units to kilometres from miles every time I opened the app that I wasn’t using it. Which is unfortunate because Waze is an awesome app for people who drive. With Waze you can enter your desitination, choose from 3 different routes, and go. You can also add a stop – say if your gas light comes on while you’re taking a new route home and you have no clue where the nearest gas station is. Not that it’s ever happened to me. Okay maybe once or twice. (Note: I always pull over before using Waze or adding a stop, though with the BlackBerry Assistant that may change since I have voice command over applications). I wrote a post extolling the virtues of BlackBerry Traffic on my Bold 9900, and when I got my Z10, I gamely tried to use its replacement: Blackberry Maps. Blackberry Maps is functional if you’re trying to get from point A to point B via the most common route. The problem is that it doesn’t take traffic into account or road closures. Driving into Toronto for the past few years, I’ve needed something that can help me avoid the numerous construction closures on the highways leading into and out of the city. Enter Waze. More than once, Waze has alerted me to heavy congestion on the road ahead and offered up an alternate route to avoid it. It even saved Dad and I from parking on highway 400 coming down from the cottage. (Dad wasn’t sure about the off road journey Waze proposed but gamely tried it and we were cruising at a steady 60 km / hr on backroads while the radio reports had the 400 at a standstill.) Waze plays through the bluetooth connection to my car audio system or through the speakers on my phone. Either way I get turn by turn directions to my destination – directions which, as a bonus, are in enough time to change lanes without panic. One of the neat things about waze as a passenger, is that I can report traffic jams, accidents and other issues to help my fellow drivers. It’s a really easy to use interface too, which is a necessity in a GPS app.
Now I’m not a big coffee drinker, as a rule, but when I do indulge, it’s a flavoured coffee drink (I love mochas) from Starbucks. I mainly drink tea and Starbucks has me covered there too. I registered for a Starbucks card, mostly because I liked the idea of earning free drinks, and because I had a couple of instances of needing a caffeine hit but not having any cash on me and I hate to pay debit for a small transaction. My big problem with the Starbucks card was forgetting it in my other wallet, or in the car. No it’s not a huge deal to walk back to the car to get my card, but when it’s minus 35 with windchill, it’s something I’d rather avoid. I’d heard rumors of the Starbucks app working on BlackBerry 10 after an update, so I asked a friend who is a self admitted Starbucks addict. Yes, he’d tried it and it worked! He sent me the application file (I could have downloaded it for myself but he already had it so why bother?) and lo-and behold I had the Starbucks App. I love this app because not only does it work as a payment card, but when you click “pay now” it pops up the bar code the Barista can scan along with any special offers. I love that it brings up the offers because I can never remember if there is one on, when it expires, and if I’ve used it. Remembering stuff like that is why I need caffeine! The other thing that the app helps me remember is when I get my next free drink. As much as I like being surprised with the fact that I’m eligible to redeem my stars, I like being able to plan ahead. Plus this is on my BlackBerry. I may forget my wallet in the car, but I’m not going to forget my BlackBerry! Win-Win.
The final app isn’t strictly necessary but it does make my phone into a super-powered entertainment machine. The Z30 has a high definition screen and though it’s not huge, it’s not bad for watching video. I’ve been dealing with insomnia lately and while reading helps, I find that it can wake me up more and sometimes a TV show is just what I need to put the worries out of my head and fall back asleep. Enter the Netflix app. I downloaded it, signed in , picked my profile, and voila – my Netflix Library is in the palm of my hand. While there are some shows I wait to watch on the big screen TV (House of Cards season 3 anyone?), there are plenty of shows that are great viewing late at night. I watch early seasons of Bones, favourite Doctor Who episodes, and Murdoch Mysteries all from the comfort of my bed. (Yes I know sleep hygeine says no phones in the bedroom – I bring it in when I can’t sleep – that way if I fall asleep while watching a show, it’s on my bed and not on the couch where I’ll wake up with a sore neck in the morning.) The Netflix app is easy to navigate and keeps the settings (like the picture quality) the same as on your main device. I also like the fact that you can choose the “Stream over wifi only” setting. This helps to prevent data overage charges, which is always good.
So those are the three Android applications I have on my BlackBerry. How many Android apps do you have on your BB10 device? Are you a purist and have none or did you download Candy Crush the minute you could install Android applications?