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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review - Blaq

Follow me on Twitter.

We hear and read it all the time.  Twitter - a social media monster, that has taken the world by storm, and in my opinion, beats facebook every time.

It's quick.  It's succinct.  It's in the moment - quite literally.

There are many desktop and mobile applications to manage your Twitter feed, but today I'm concentrating on one that, again in my opinion, is the best of breed, on BlackBerry 10.

Originally developed for the PlayBook, the team re-designed and re-built the application from the ground up, for BlackBerry 10.

First of all , it's native.  That means it's been built specifically for OS10 and not ported across from Android.
It up dates in real-time - there's no need to refresh, it will just do it.

When you first run the app, it launches in Help mode, leading you through the various features.  It's a nice touch, and you can access it again via Help in the settings menu.

The active frame (the minimised window) doesn't show recent tweets, but it does update if you receive a mention or direct message.  There's colour-coding for the different streams, so it's easy to see at a glance.
With BBM integration, you can share tweets with BBM contacts.

There is auto-completion of Twitter names, when adding to a tweet, which is more fulfilling than doing it on the native Twitter app.

Blaq can host multiple accounts, which are easy to switch between, so if you have more than one; i.e. for personal and business use, then you'll like the way this works.

Using simple gestures, you can access your Mentions, Direct Messages, Favourites and Lists.  You can also see a view of all your tweets that have been re-tweeted.  A nice touch.  There isn't a Connect view, and you can't see which of your tweets have been "favourite'd"!

A killer feature, for me anyway, is the ability to schedule tweets.  By accessing the settings icon, you can set the date and time for the tweet to be published.  If you have more than one, you can view a list of the scheduled tweets.

You can see previews of images in the tweets, and select them to open in full size.  From there you have the option to share it, save it, or even set as a wallpaper.

In the settings menu, you have ability to change the font size as well as the frequency with which the timeline is updated.  Note, when open, the timeline automatically updates - you can watch it do this as tweets flood in! However, when minimised to the active frame, the more often it refreshes in the background, the greater the drain on the battery.  The lowest you can set is 5 minutes, and the longest is an hour.

For each account, you can set the notifications individually.  This is one area where I find Blaq weak.
Mentions and Direct Message notifications tend to be late, so I have the option turned off in Blaq, and just use the native Twitter notifications.
It's also possible to set if you want the timeline to show your last read tweet, or to start at the latest tweet.

It goes without saying that you can post photos from the app, either directly from the camera, or by selecting an image from your library.

All in all, this is my "Go To" Twitter app.

Blaq is available for all BlackBerry10 devices, and is just £2.00.  Well worth it, if you as me.

You can find Blaq in BlackBerry World.

NB - After I wrote this, there was an post on CrackBerry about some upcoming changes.. all good stuff

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review - Money Plus

Money makes the world go around, the world go around, the world....

Oh, OK.  No singing, but money is the subject of today's post.  Or rather, the management of money.

I like to be in control of my finances, and even if there isn't much of it, I like to record where it's going.  This is where Money Plus comes in.  Initially designed and built for the BlackBerry PlayBook, the developer jumped straight on the BlackBerry 10 and launched an app soon after release.

I've been using it on my Z10 since the day it was released, and haven't regretted it.
As a "Built for BlackBerry" application, you can rest assured this has been designed and built to the highest quality for BlackBerry devices.

It allows you to set up accounts (in multiple currencies if you so desire) and then set categories and payees to record your payments and income.  You can also make a note against the transaction, so you can remember what it was for.

The developer has been quite proactive in getting regular updates, with bug fixes and new functionality, and is very responsive to questions.

A recent update included location based transactions, so when you add a transaction, it automatically displays a list of your recent payees at that location.  This is a feature that builds up over time, as you "teach" the app where you are when you make the payment.
It also "remembers" the category for the payee, so entry of information is quick, as you only need to enter the amount.

It's also has the ability to tag the transaction as either "New" or "Cleared" so that you can see what is still pending.

I like the fact that the information is stored locally, and I can set a password if I want to.  I can also move the saved file to the cloud; like Dropbox, as a back-up, but that's my choice.

It's possible to filter the transaction list, so you only see the accounts you want, or the categories or payees you want; making it easy to see at a glance, where you've been spending your hard earned cash.

Updates are coming to set up regular payments, reducing the need to enter recurring payments each month, and that will be a welcome feature.

As you can see, this is a feature rich application, and whilst it's not free, at just £1.50, this is an app that is definitely worth the investment.

Money Plus is available in BlackBerry World and is compatible with all BlackBerry 10 devices and the PlayBook.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review - Nobex

Following on from my post yesterday, about Soundhound, today I'm looking at an app to listen to radio and podcasts via your BlackBerry10 device.

There are many apps and websites where you can 'listen again' or encouraged to listen "online, on digital and on FM", but there is one app that I go to for managing my podcasts and, if necessary, listen live.

NobexLogoPodcasts, for those few of you who don't know, are audio programmes, created by absolutely anyone, for anyone else to listen to.  They could be about education, religion, technology, gardening, television, films; in fact anything you have an interest in, there's bound to be a podcast about it.

I have recently taken to using an app from Nobex.  With over 16000 radio stations available to find and discover new material, my main use is to manage podcasts.

Specifically built for BlackBerry 10 (it has the Built for BlackBerry designation) the free version give you:

  • Listen to radio stations in your country for free
  • Listen to or watch your favourite podcasts
  • Get notifications when a subscribed podcast is released
  • Share what you are listening to via BBM, facebook or Twitter
  • Sleep timer function
  • Watch YouTube videos

When listening to the radio, it tells you the name of the track and artist, along with an image, if available.

It's possible to also download the podcast, for future listening, to save using data, when out and about.

If you like your daily or weekly podcasts, and want them delivered to you with ease, then you can't go too far wrong with Nobex.

As mentioned, it's free to download, but there is a premium version which give you access to more radio stations, the ability to customize with your own pictures, and access your account on their website.

Nobex is available in BlackBerry World

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review - Soundhound

Do you like listening to music?
Do you sometimes hear a track and think "who is that?"

Now, there's an app that will listen to the music and tell you what it is.
What's more - you can even sing, or hum, the tune and it will show you what it is.

It's a clever piece of software, and is great fun to use in the car, when listening to the radio, or even sitting at home, humming away, but you can't think of the name.

It gets better, because, once it has correctly identified the song, where applicable, it will also display the lyrics.. Live!
Yes - as the song progresses, the next line of the lyrics is displayed, so you can sing along too!
This is called LiveLyrics.

There is a link to buy the track, the default is through BlackBerry World; however you can change this default, in the settings, to Amazon.

With the multitude of ways of sharing via BB10, you can use one of either Twitter, Facebook, BBM and BBM Channel etc, or use Polarbear or QuickPost to share to everywhere at once and tell everyone what you just discovered!

On iOS, you can listen to the track via Rdio, however, this feature isn't available, yet, on BlackBerry10.
You can search for the song directly via YouTube, from the app and then play the video.

Soundhound stores the history of your searches, as well as show you where you were when you searched; which is quite fascinating.
In the history, you can also access the full lyrics, so you can sing-along yourself!!

It's important to note that Soundhound does need an active network connection, and if you're using the mobile network, this could hit your data plan, so be careful if it's not unlimited.

Hopefully, Soundhound will release future updates for BlackBerry 10 - only time will tell; but there have been an increasing number of new developments on BB10, so fingers crossed.

Soundhound is available in BlackBerry World

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Review - InstaVenue

Here's a cracking app, currently available on BlackBerry10.

It's called InstaVenue, and is a mix of picture + location + weather + other bits 'n' bobs.

Developed as a native application (it's been built directly on BlackBerry and not ported from iOS or Android) it works seamlessly with the camera and GPS.  Rather cleverly, it is also integrated with Foursquare, which means you can actually find your location and use that instead.

There are a number of different way you can utilise this, as you can see in the screenshots; and I'm sure the good folk at CrackBerry won't mind me linking to the video they produced, to show it off.

It's well developed, works extremely well and is a nice twist on location-based photography.  It would be great if you could enter your own phrases, but maybe that will come with future updates.

InstaVenue is available in BlackBerry World

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Audioboo - Now Playing Everywhere

Over three years ago,  I wrote about Audioboo, a delightful new way to post articles to the internet.

YouTube was the visual method, but with Audioboo, it's possible to, quite literally, sound off.

At the time, Audioboo was only released as an app for the iPeople, and also via their own website.  However, this week saw the release of their app to BlackBerry World.

It gets better.  Not only is it released onto BlackBerry 10, but it is a native app.  That's right.
No Android port here.  This is the real deal, and it means a lot to see companies developing and releasing apps to the BlackBerry ecosystem.

With all the negative news around BlackBerry at the moment, you'd be forgiven for thinking that developers would no longer support them; but BlackBerry Jam Asia appears to have confounded everyone, with a great turnout by those looking to increase and improve development on the BB10 OS.

So, thanks to Audioboo for releasing this fantastic new app - which allows me to save recordings as drafts, so I can build on them (currently, it's not possible to edit the recording in app) and then lets me post them for you to hear (or not).

Once recorded, they can be shared across multiple social media sites.

My latest 'boo' is here

You can get AudioBoo in BlackBerry World


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