Today, I wanted to share what I know about being a new Blackberry owner/user. I’ve been an Blackberry (BB) user/addict for over 3 4 years now and have enjoyed every minute of it. My inner geek loves the idea of having life’s information at the touch of a button and I’ve grown very fond of its relative ease of use, interface, and convenience. Early on, in my BB ownership, I was teased and mocked for having such a device, but ironically, over the last six months, things have changed.
First, there has been an increase among my friends and family who have picked up a “smartphone” (Blackberry, iPhone, Palm Pre, etc). Second, once they activate them and start using them, I realize they only use 25% of its potential. Finally, they all come to me for help on setting it up and tips on maximizing its usage.
While I’m not too familiar with the ins and outs of other smartphones, here are my top secrets/tips for using a BB:
1. Make sure you get the right Blackberry for what you need.
Many people who want a BB often get what their friends and/or family have, which isn’t always the best move. Premium BB Models like the Storm (Verizon) or Bold (AT&T) are great for those who want a Blackberry with a few more bells and whistles with enhanced media (videos/music) to touchscreen capabilities (only Storm) . . . pretty much anyone who likes the IPhone, but wants better “push email”. The best “standard” BB out there is the Curve and is available on all the major US carriers. Just remember: You get a BlackBerry because no one does “push email” better.
2. Read your Manual / User Guide!
Admit it, we’ve all done it. We get a shiny new “anything”, open the box and just start using it without even a hint at the manual. Many items don’t even come with the physical user guides anymore and direct people online to either download it in PDF or read it off a website! Take the 30 minutes or so to learn about your new device step-by-step. Everything that a new user needs to know is in this guide. Find your BB User Guide here, even if you think you are an experienced user!
3. Sign up for an account at Crackberry!
This is the #1 site for anyone who owns a BB. There is a plethora of useful (and useless) information on this site, generated by other fun-loving BB users. If you ever have challenges with your BB, typing your question in their search engine often pulls up many posts on said topics. My favorite Crackberry pages initially are their Blackberry 101 short-courses. Also, there is a Crackberry store that sells all the accessories, at great prices! Check it out!
4. Pull out your Blackberry Battery Once a Week Every 10 Days
Your BB is a mini-computer and like most computers, restarting it often keeps it running fresh and brand new. Often times, if you don’t pull your battery out regularly, BB users will notice the device operating slower than usual and will end up powering the BB down and then restarting it. While this is better than nothing, pulling out the battery once every 10 days ensures that it is operating at an optimal pace. If you don’t want to physically pull out your battery, download the “Quickpull” app and it will simulate it for you.
5. Get a Memory Card to hold all your media
One of the great thing about BB’s (especially the Bold, Curve 8900 series, Storm, and new Tour) are their ability to play videos and music and showcase pictures, on your device. With a standard 4-8gb Micro SD Card, you can hold a lot of stuff (2000 music files, 18 hours of video)! Before you buy a memory card, make sure you consult your BB’s User Guide for the best memory size for your device. The best place to buy these cards are online at the Crackberry Store.
6. Delete any applications you don’t use to free up memory.
There are many BB applications that you may not use for a variety of reasons. Free up the device’s internal memory by deleting these. Here’s how:
– On your BlackBerry, navigate to the main screen and choose the “Options” icon.
– Here you must choose Advanced Options and then Applications. You will now be presented with a list of all the applications installed on your device.
– Scroll through the list and identify all of the applications that are installed on your BlackBerry that you really don’t use or need. For each of these you will need to click the BlackBerry key and bring up the contextual menu. Scroll the menu until you have “Delete” highlighted and click the trackball.
– You will be presented with a dialog box that prompts you to confirm the deletion of the selected application. Choosing delete will permanently delete the selected application from your BlackBerry, while choosing cancel will take you back to your list of installed applications. (source: www.bbgeeks.com)
Once this is complete, if you wish to make even more room on your BB, read this article on “Preventing BB Memory Leaks”.
7. Download these FOUR must-have, FREE applications:
a. Opera Mini – Web Browser: If you want to start a debate among BlackBerry users, just ask them which mobile browser they prefer. Some folks are thrilled with the latest BlackBerry Browser, while others hate it and insist on a third-party alternative. I’m somewhere in the middle. The new BlackBerry Browser, which you’ll find on phones like the Bold, the Storm, and the new Curve 8900, is light years ahead of past versions, but I still find that it occasionally stalls on a page or doesn’t display a site as it should. That’s why I like to have another option!
a. Social Media: I recommend you download the “Facebook for Blackberry” and “Ubertwitter” applications right away. If you’ve never done social networking over mobile devices, this will change the way you stay in touch. Now, you can post pictures and video right from your phone, tag those in it, and add comments on the go 🙂 Foursquare is also a fun little app if you’re interested in playing a “location based” type game.
b. Viigo – Great RSS Reader App: Viigo started out as an RSS reader–and it was an excellent one, allowing you to add newsfeeds easily and browse the results. Nowadays this free application remains an outstanding RSS reader, but it also does much more, tracking weather, flight status, sports scores, stock quotes, and even restaurant reviews.
c. YouMail – Anyone who has used an iPhone knows that its visual voicemail is one of its best–if often overlooked–features. But other companies, like YouMail, are taking note, launching similar services for other smart phones. YouMail visual voicemail displays a list of your incoming messages, so you can see who they’re from and when they arrived before listening to them. It also can transcribe the voice messages into text so that you can read them in places where you can’t make calls, and it lets you create various outgoing messages for different callers. VERY COOL.
c. Google Mobile Updater for BlackBerry: Google offers a great collection of mobile applications, including Google Maps, Gmail, Docs, Voice and Sync. Deciding which one to include here was a tough call–until I realized just how useful Google Mobile Updater can be. This tool allows you to install a variety of Google apps–including all the ones I just mentioned–to your phone, and notifies you when new products or updates to your existing apps are available.
d. Pandora for Blackberry: One of my faves. Music, on your phone whenever you want it! (Just make sure your plan includes UNLIMITED data or else this will get expensive quick!)
Finally, install Blackberry App World to find more free apps and very inexpensive, but cool ones!
9. Use the Auto On/Auto Off Feature
This is a simple, yet very effective thing to do every night… give your BFF BB a break and let it sleep. Go to your OPTIONS, and select the AUTO ON/OFF function and pick when you would like let your BB rest. Imagine if you never got a chance to sleep, you’d be pretty cranky too! If you need more information on this, visit this Crackberry 101 Lesson.
10. Use Blackberry Messenger (the latest version here!)
If you have other friends and colleagues who have a BB, this is a program that you should be using to communicate with! It allows two people withBBs to chat in real time anywhere in the world so long as they have data service. With BB Messenger there is no per message charge like there is with SMS; messages are sent through RIM servers similar to email messages.
This is just the tip of the iceberg to using your BB. I encourage you to read other BB tips and secrets and share more here! My Blackberry Bold and I thank you 🙂
What are your favorite Blackberry Applications, Tricks and Tips?