30 September 2009

Apps for BlackBerry-Wielding Journalists

The Orlando Sentinel's technology reporter, Etan Horowitz, offers a Top 10 list of (mostly free) Blackberry apps for journalists at PoynterOnline.org.

(Coming later this week from Horowitz: A list of iPhone apps, followed by a comparison of Blackberry and iPhone. Check Poynter's "Online and Technology" site to keep up!)

Both the iPhone and Blackberry offer online apps stores. You'll need to download "BlackBerry App World" if it didn't come on your phone. If you can't find an app you want there, Horowitz says, it can be downloaded from the developer's Web site on your BlackBerry browser.

Here's his list:

* Qik: Enables you to broadcast live video from your phone. Qik videos are embeddable, and a live stream can be posted on Twitter, Facebook and other sites. Qik is an easy way to cover breaking news visually.

* UberTwitter: Faster and with more features than TwitterBerry, this free program makes it easy to promote your work, crowd-source and stay on top of breaking news. It also lets you e-mail tweets and upload both photos and videos.

* BlackBerry Messenger: The instant messaging programme (allowing you to communicate with other BlackBerry users) includes the ability to group messages and to see when the other person is typing -- helpful when you need to know if someone is about to respond. Horowitz says Sentinel photographers and photo editors use BlackBerry Messenger because it allows them to send information quickly without interrupting a photographer on assignment.

* Google Mobile App: This app allows journalists who use Google products and services, such as Gmail or Google Maps, to get easy access to them on their BlackBerry.

* Evernote: You cannot edit or create new Google Docs on a BlackBerry, but Evernote provides a handy way to write notes that are accessible on the Web. For instance, you could start writing a story on Evernote on the BlackBerry, then pull it up on Evernote.com when you return to your computer. Evernote also enables you to record audio notes and to store documents or photos.

* Google Voice: For journalists who don't want to ever miss a call from a source, or who want to screen calls, Horowitz writes, "Google Voice is a godsend." The app also transcribes voice mails, enables you to record conversations and lets you switch from your cell to your office phone in the middle of the conversation.

* Opera Mini: The Web browser installed on your BlackBerry may not be a full HTML browser, so some pages won't load and others will be displayed in a text format. Opera Mini is an alternative browser that displays Web pages in an easier-to-view format on your phone.

* Facebook: The social networking site has become a valuable tool for journalists who want to find sources and story ideas, promote their work and engage readers. The BlackBerry version sports a basic interface; it enables you to upload photos (but not video) to Facebook.

* Tethering: Rather than an app, tethering is a feature that gives the BlackBerry an advantage over the iPhone, Horowitz writes. Depending on your rate plan, you can connect it to your computer and use it as a modem to get online.

* Vlingo: This app lets you use voice commands to perform such tasks as sending text messages, opening applications, and updating your Twitter or Facebook status. Both free and paid versions are available.

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