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BlackBerry Apps: Four Types to Avoid

By Al Sacco, CIO
July 22, 2010 03:32 PM ET

CIO - It's never been easier to find quality BlackBerry applications. That's due largely to RIM's own app store, BlackBerry App World--which sees right around 1 million downloads a day, according to the company--as well as third party application marketplaces like Mobihand's BlackBerry store. Both online destinations are one-stop shops for valuable BlackBerry apps.

But the flip side to this explosion in BlackBerry software is that many less-than-valuable apps make their way into App World, Mobihand and elsewhere, crowding the virtual "shelf-space" and making it more challenging to find the true, must-have BlackBerry apps.

I'm talking about applications that simply don't do what they promise. Apps that cost too much. Or software that's plain ol' useless.

I've been recommending BlackBerry apps to my readers for years--just check out my BlackBerry Bible page. Now it's time to call out the apps that don't make the grade.

What follows is a list of four application types I've identified that aren't worth the space on my BlackBerry. You'll notice I'm not spotlighting specific applications, but types. Of course, you can make up your own mind; why not try an application if it's free? You can always delete it any time you want, right? The idea here is to save you time, effort, frustration, and in some cases, dollars.

Keep moving for my quick list of BlackBerry apps you're better off avoiding.

BlackBerry Application Type: "Flashlight" Apps

Reason to Avoid: BlackBerry "flashlight" apps typically employ your BlackBerry's camera flash as a tiny flashlight. Some of these applications let you change the color of your "flashlight," but they mostly do the same thing: Keep your flash lit up like Vegas after dusk. Some of these applications are free, and if you're looking for advanced features on top of a simple, "white-colored" flashlight, and you're not low on BlackBerry storage space, they may be worth a look. But whenever I need a flashlight, and all I have on-hand is my BlackBerry, I simply open up my video-camera application and click the space bar. Click the space bar again to disable the flash.

Voila. You've got a BlackBerry flashlight, no app required. The only catch is that the video-camera flash disables itself when your screen dims, so you'll need to repeatedly click a key to ensure your screen is lit while you need a light. Also, you should be aware that keeping your BlackBerry flash lit up for extended periods of time, whether you do it yourself or via an application, will likely drain significant battery-life.

BlackBerry Application Type: Memory Management Apps

Reason to Avoid: A plethora of applications exist to help you monitor and free up memory on your BlackBerry. Dubbed memory "boosters," "managers" and "monitors," most simply offer interfaces for gauging your current BlackBerry memory usage, along with tools that supposedly help to "free" memory.

Problem is, in my experience, none these apps really do anything that you can't do on your own. For example, you can get a quick idea of your smartphone's current memory status by simply opening up your BlackBerry Options menu, which looks like some sort of wrench in default BlackBerry themes. Within that menu, scroll down to and click Memory. You'll see a listing for Application Memory. And if you're aware of the total app memory in your devices--either 256MB or 512MB in most new BlackBerry devices--you can easily figure out the percentage of free app memory, no app required...well, maybe the default BlackBerry calculator app.

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