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. [Read more…]
Why I’m Retiring the GPS
I don’t actually have a GPS but my parents do, as do a lot of my friends, so when I’m going somewhere where there’s a good possibility of my getting horribly, horribly lost (*cough* Hamilton *cough*) I borrow someone’s GPS to ensure I make it back home. I’ve managed to make out decently well with borrowed GPS units in the past but they’re bulky and I can’t leave it in the car for fear of it being stolen . All that is a thing of the past now that I have discovered the wonder that is BlackBerry Traffic. BlackBerry Traffic is a free app that you can download from BlackBerry App World and in my opinion, it’s better than a GPS and it’s on something you’re probably bringing with you anyway – your BlackBerry!
Once downloaded, BlackBerry Traffic appears as an icon on your homescreen. It’s pretty easy to find – it’s the one that looks like traffic lights
Now I’m a huge fan of putting things in folders on the BlackBerry, but I leave BlackBerry Traffic out on my homescreen because I use it pretty much daily.
Once you start up BlackBerry Traffic, you can set up addresses for “Home” and “Work”. You can also add an address to the “My Places” section if you know the address you’re looking for, or you can search for one you don’t know.
Once you choose your destination, the app does a search based on current traffic conditions and gives you two options. You select the one you want to take, and you get step by step voice instructions either through your bluetooth headset or through the speaker on your BlackBerry to where you’re going. It gives plenty of notice for upcoming turns, allowing you to change lanes if necessary. It’s best to set your destination before you go because otherwise your attention won’t be on driving and the app won’t be hands free. (I have, when needed, pulled over to the shoulder to revise a route.)
I have a very bad habit of not being able to find my way to or from Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton. Every time I’ve gone there I’ve been lost. Except this year. The difference? BlackBerry Traffic. Before I left, I did a search for Ivor Wynne Stadium and chose which of the 2 routes presented I wanted to take.
The one I chose, ended up being great. Note that BlackBerry Traffic gives you an estimated time of arrival – in this case about 30 minutes early but I was sure I would need that time to get myself un-lost.
The yellow exclamation point was notifying me about an accident about 9 km along the QEW – as it turned out, the accident was cleared by the time I reached that point but it was great to be prepared for a bit of a delay there.
I got to the stadium about 30 minutes early (first time ever!) The game went well, and then when I got back to my car, I simply turned BlackBerry Traffic back on and chose “Home” as my destination.
I got home in under an hour (a first), and with no stress. It was great. It was after that day that BlackBerry Traffic became my favourite app. It’s helped me avoid long weekend traffic on highway 400 to cottage country, and accidents on the 401 going to Toronto. It isn’t the app i use the most (that would be either BlackBerry Messenger or Twitter) but it’s the one I’d miss the most if it was gone! One word of caution is that if you leave it running, it does chew through battery. Once you get to your destination, you should exit the app to conserve battery.
Have you tried BlackBerry Traffic?
Synchronizing Calendars between devices
I’ve been a little quiet on here lately, mostly because I’ve been busy giving BlackBerry Traffic a workout! A friend who has recently purchased a PlayBook asked me a question via Twitter today about syncing his BlackBerry calendar with the calendar on the PlayBook. I synched them as soon as I got my PlayBook in December, so naturally I went to the help on the PlayBook to get him an answer. The steps there will get your calendars synched but the instructions are a tad confusing. Here’s the easy way of doing it.
Step 1: Connect your PlayBook and your BlackBerry using BlackBerry Bridge.
Step 2: On your Playbook, in the top right corner is an icon that looks like a cog: it will take you to the settings.
Step 3: In the Settings page, there will be a bunch of options on the left hand side. Select Accounts and then “Email, Calendar and Contacts”.
Step 4: Select “Add New Account”
Step 5: Enter the email address you use for your BlackBerry Handheld device Calendar.
*Repeat the above steps to add another calendar, if you have more than 1 on your Smartphone
Step 6: Go to the Calendar application on your playbook and add the calendar(s) to it.
Step 7: From the drop down menu, select the new calendar.
You have now successfully synched your PlayBook and BlackBerry Handheld Calendars. Remember to use BlackBerry Bridge to keep both your Handheld and your PlayBook Calendars on the same page!
Why my loyalty isn’t going anywhere
In case you couldn’t tell from the title of my blog, I’m a BlackBerry fan. I have tried iphones and Androids and while they were a lot of fun, my infatuation usually only lasted a month or two. I’ve had my Bold 9900 for a year now. A year of bad press for Research In Motion and of people constantly asking me why I would want to jump on board a sinking ship. The answer is simple: I don’t believe that the ship is sinking. I LOVE the functionality of my BlackBerry Bold 9900 and am very excited by what I’ve been hearing about BlackBerry 10. My Bold 9900 allows me to work from the dock, at a football game, or from my bedroom. Documents To Go allows me to edit word and excel documents from my BlackBerry without turning on my laptop or PlayBook. BlackBerry Messenger (which despite some comments I’ve heard on Twitter is not going anywhere) helps me keep in touch with friends and family.
I have a bunch of amazing apps on my BlackBerry Bold 9900 and on my PlayBook. To all those who say that BlackBerry doesn’t have a wide selection of apps, I ask: Have you been to App World lately? The app that I fell in love with most recently is BlackBerry Traffic. I drive into Toronto a few times a month, and there’s nothing I like less than being stuck in traffic because I don’t know the alternate routes. Now I have an app that not only gives me my ETA based on current traffic conditions but it also gives me an alternate route in case I can’t take the traffic jams anymore. How awesome is that? The app gives you turn by turn directions either through your bluetooth headset or through the speaker on the BlackBerry. You can even set it up to go through your car’s audio system (though I haven’t done this yet). I learned about this awesome app from my friend Nick who used it to get us to the Canadian National Exhibition on Sunday despite some fairly major construction on the 401. Yes we still ended up stuck in traffic but we knew how long we would be in that traffic and that (surprise!) there wasn’t any traffic turning into the underground parking at the Direct Energy Centre.
The app is updated in real time by other users who are also running it. So if I leave from the cottage 30 minutes ahead of Dad and we’re both running it, he gets updated if I slow down for an extended period of time.
If I’m going home to visit my parents, I have a plethora of routes I can choose from. BlackBerry Traffic makes it easy to pick the right one. I simply select my destination and choose the route that’s quickest.
In this case I’d pick the 2nd one because it doesn’t take me on the 407. The green sections indicate good traffic flow, the yellow indicates slower than normal flow, and the red sections mean traffic is very slow.
You can click on a route and it will show you road by road how the traffic is:
I’m going to test this app out more thoroughly over the Labour Day weekend when I’ll be doing a lot of driving, some of it to very unfamiliar places. So far it’s the best traffic app I’ve seen for ANY device.