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I Think Google Has a Crush on BlackBerry

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Last week I gave you an introduction to why BlackBerry’s are far superior to Treo’s.  This week, I’m going to share a few of the applications I use many times a day on my BlackBerry.

For those of you who live in a Verizon-dominant area, have wanted an iPhone because they’re pretty and wanted the business superiority of a BlackBerry, you’re in luck, the Storm is out now!

Google, You Complete…My BlackBerry

Even though Google has released their G1 phone, they continue to develop applications for the BlackBerry, possibly indicating their knowledge that they are incredible business tools and aren’t going away anytime soon.  A few of their killer apps can make your BlackBerry even better.

Google Talk

Point your BlackBerry browser here (https://www.blackberry.com/googletalk) to download Google Talk for your BB.  Place the GTalk Widget on your web site or integrate with Plugoo or Meebo and now you have live chat on your web site that goes wherever you do.  It also saves me a ton on text messages because I know a ton of people who use GMail, which automatically puts them on my GTalk.

Google Maps

Sure, it’s not turn-by-turn navigation, but it’s free and works very similarly to the regular browser-based GMaps. Head here (https://m.google.com/maps) on your mobile browser to download.  For those of you with real GPS* in your BB, it will work automatically.  If you don’t have GPS, it will triangulate off the cell towers to find your approximate location.  Directions (driving, transit and walking), satellite view, traffic information and voice based search are all included.

*Although Verizon tries to be the “most open”, they cripple their GPS. I have a VZW BB Pearl, which has GPS, but it can only be used with the fee-based Verizon Navigator.  So triangulation is all you get unless you buy a separate, external GPS unit.

GMail

Yes, you can (and should) setup your various GMail and Mail for Domains accounts with your push email service, but if you’re like me and strive for Inbox Zero, your BB gets cleaned out regularly, yet you still want to access your messages.  GMail for BB is the answer! Not only will it allow you to connect to multiple accounts at once, it has an offline mode for those times when you can’t get a good signal.  Also, the search is fast and easy so you can always get those old emails even if you’ve deleted them off your push email account.  Here’s the link (https://m.google.com/mail).

Google Mobile App

Sorry, this is probably the most boring of them all, but entirely necessary. This application is a quick search tool, application launcher and auto-updater rolled into one.  Google has mobile versions of news, reader, calendar, docs, photos and notebook – slimmed down web sites, not full fledged applications.  The Mobile App gives you quick links to all of these as well as keeping all of the other apps I’m mentioning here up to date, with the exception of GTalk.  Head over in your mobile browser (https://m.google.com)

Google Sync

The Holy Grail. This is what has made Outlook obsolete for me.  GSync synchronizes your Calendar and now your Contacts too!  So sync your BB with Outlook one last time, then sync it up with Google and all of your contact glory is now pulled into your GMail account.  And it’s a two-way synchronization, so whenever you update on one, it’s done automatically on the other.  Ditto for your calendar.  Check it out (https://m.google.com/sync)!

What’s Missing?

For me, the only thing missing currently is a BB app for GReader.  As soon as that comes out, my BB/Google integration will be complete.

Coming Up

Next week I’ll dip into a few more of what I consider to be must-have applications to round out your BlackBerry as the ultimate business tool (and further push Treo’s into the dirt) 🙂

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Mike Stewart, Downtown Vancouver Realtor

    November 20, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I’ve been using a blackberry for years in my real estate business and I love it. The ability to use Google anytime anywhere is great, but I didn’t know I could get those other apps. Could you post a link for them?

    Also could you tell me more about meebo and google talk and connecting my website and my blackberry for chat? I stopped using meebo as I wasn’t in front of my computer enough.

    Thanks!

  2. Missy Caulk

    November 20, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Nick, thanks for the suggestions, I am going to check out sync in the AM, too tired tonight. As a outlook person that would be really cool. We already do the sync with the calendar.

  3. Jim Duncan

    November 21, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Pretty much one of the best things about my BB is Google.

    But – I could never get the gTalk to work with my site’s widget – it always tried to open a browser rather than talking within the app. Other than that – perfect.

  4. Paula Henry

    November 21, 2008 at 6:22 am

    Nick –

    You have given me a few more reasons to run to Verizon for my Storm!

  5. Molly

    November 21, 2008 at 7:23 am

    there is an app for reader:

    https://www.google.com/mobile/blackberry/reader.html

    It is the only thing that keeps me sane when I wait (and wait) for appointments and at soccer practice!

  6. Nick Bostic

    November 21, 2008 at 9:11 am

    @Mike – I included links in each product summary, but here there are again for easy reference, all downloadable from the built in browser in your BB:
    GTalk: https://www.blackberry.com/googletalk
    GMaps: https://m.google.com/maps
    GMail: https://m.google.com/mail
    GMobileApp: https://m.google.com
    GSync: https://m.google.com/sync

    Meebo allows you access to GTalk, but if you want a chat on your web site that integrates with you BB GTalk, either look into the GTalk widget (found here: https://www.google.com/talk/service/badge/New) or use Plugoo for direct integration.

    @Missy – I was very excited to see the addition of contacts and it worked beautifully on mine.

    @Jim – That’s definitely odd, although I’ve heard from a couple of other people they had the same issue. The people I know who it didn’t work for just went to Plugoo and it goes to their BB.

    @Paula – let me know how you like it since I have to wait for the GSM version 🙁

    @Molly – Unfortunately, that’s not a true app, that’s a mobile-compatible web site. It does come in handy in a pinch, but I’d like something that downloads a certain number of articles, allows for adding stars and notes, then will sync back up with the full-fledged web-based version when I connect again. But definitely better than nothing!

  7. GeorgeMcCumiskey

    November 21, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Google is always my first choice for apps and why pay for text messaging when the email function on the BB is free. Watch out for AT & T to sabotage that. maybe.

  8. Molly

    November 21, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    You are right, no notes-but I often star things to read when they are heavy on links or images when I get back to the desktop.

    Clears out the “boring stuff”

  9. Danilo Bogdanovic

    November 21, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    There is a Google Reader app for BB. I downloaded a bundled package of Picassa, Docs, Reaader, Sync, News, Gmail, Maps, Search and Mobile Updater all in one click.

    It even updates all of the apps automatically and syncs my calendar with my Google Calendar automatically when I make a change to it on my BB.

  10. Missy Caulk

    November 22, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Nick, I met a guy from Google at NAR, he told someone in Ann Arbor-Google about me and I got an email from him to go have lunch at Google. He was amazed at how Realtors use Google.

    I am pumped !

  11. Sherry Baker

    November 24, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Nick, what a useful article — I thought I was using Google on my BB fully, but looks like I have some apps to add. Cool!

  12. Arlington real estate guy

    November 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    As a new blackberry Storm user that has spent since Sat. working on his new baby, here are some suggestions for managing your blackberries as some of the native apps suck–but this touch screen and push email do rock!

    https://www.mycaption.com/home/index Do your email and calendar entries by voice….I’ve tried the email and it’s awesome! free trial see for yourself. Perhaps very useful while driving.

    https://www.iambic.com/agendus/blackberry/ still in develop but will leave other calendar apps in the dust– the palm version was incredible and kept many of stuck with treo because we couldn’t bear to leave agendus

    https://www.iambic.com/agendus/winoued/default.asp This incorporates an incredible planner/calendar/contact tool into your Outlook system–literally embedded in Outlook and much better in some ways for customizing tasks, color coding, interlinking, contact history, syncing with blackberry, icons, etc. Check out the page and see for yourself the screenshots.

    Radio–just found out how to get all you want on your smartphone and I love AM talk radio and have been wanting to get accesss for years: https://www.moodio.fm/node/1 It’s free…actually works great!

    I’ll be downloading the google calendar to see if it can act as a good sub for on the blackberry while some of the agendus bugs get worked out, but for the desktop or latptop the Outlook agendus kicks google’s calendar’s arse!

    Good luck pimpin’ out your smartphones 🙂

  13. Jared

    December 3, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I have a quick question. I had a problem with my BB and had to wipe the device. I backed it up and lost no data, but when I did the reinstall I had to redownload my google icons. Why can’t I get my old reader icon back. I need to go through mobile app to get to the reader instead of just having the reader icon on my BB desktop. HELP!

  14. Nick Bostic

    December 4, 2008 at 12:18 am

    @Jared – Sorry, Google updated their mobile app at the urging of many users to move the links off the home page and into the new Mobile App. Unfortunately, even if you found an old version, it would force itself to update to the new version in order to update the other apps. I liked having the links I wanted on the homepage too, but I’m out of luck with you.

  15. Jared

    December 4, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Thanks. Lets just hope they come out with a reader program instead of a reader link soon

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This Zoom alternative offers a branded video meeting experience

(TECH NEWS) AirConnect is a conferencing portal that allows for company customization and automated onboarding so you can focus on other priorities.

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video portal airconnect

The concepts of company culture and branding are now more important than they’ve ever been. When we were first hearing these terms, they felt like buzzwords and ways to attract new talent and business without any actual execution.

Now that we have an understanding of what they are and how to use them, they are so much more practical and necessary – from big businesses to a one-person Etsy shop.

It’s been a little different in the last few months trying to figure out how to make company culture exude in the virtual world. For places that are hiring, it is also tricky to show how they differ from the rest over a video conference call.

The creators of AirConnect have taken this into account and have unleashed the virtual conference concept with an element of customization. As they say, “nothing beats a personal touch”.

Through use of this video conferencing tool, you can meet virtually with customers and clients in a brand video meeting portal. Customization options include headers, logo placement, and colors.

Additionally, the tool allows for customers to access their data via a customer portal, which allows for some automation when onboarding clients, assisting customers, or meeting with partners. AirConnect urges users to “say goodbye to Zoom links”.

“Let’s face it, nobody likes the where’s-the-link, what’s-the-password, can-you-hear-me-yet: and that includes your customers. Say hello to a single place where they can meet with you, as well as seeing all their account information, resources and anything else you like. Ah, that’s better, isn’t it?” explains the website.

The fully featured customer portal allows users to go beyond the simple zone of a place to talk. The ability to connect to sheets is where customers can access the aforementioned data.

The video call feature in the branded portal offers as many video touchpoints as the user would like; whether it’s used for on-boarding or standard consultations. The fact that customers can access their own data anytime allows users to put their time towards the high-value touchpoints.

On-boarding processes can also be automated by capturing customers’ information and documents in a single portal, making activation simple.

This certainly differentiates from Zoom or Skype as it has the customization option. What do you think – is it useful or flashy for the sake of flash?

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Google Messages adds features to catch up to iMessage

(TECH NEWS) Google Messages just added a bunch of features (including a web version) to make the chat service feel a lot more like iMessage. Better late than never!

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From the way people talk about iMessage, you’d think Apple has the market cornered on instant messaging–and, if you have an Android, you’re pretty much out of luck. With some new additions to Google Chat in the last week, this may no longer be the case.

According to CNET, Google added a slew of features to the RCS Messaging–typically referred to as Google Chat–app, all of which should now be available directly within your Android’s Messages app (technological limitations for older devices notwithstanding). Among these features are reactions to messages and the ability to text from your computer.

CNET notes that you’ll have to use the Google Messages app–not your phone’s built-in chat app if it’s different–in order to access these features, though they also point out that Samsung is in the process of adding the RCS Messaging suite to their proprietary messaging app as well.

You do have to jump through a couple of hoops to ensure that you’re able to use these features in Google Messages, starting with making sure you’ve updated your phone to the latest operating system version. That’s just good life advice anyway, so double-check your phone’s settings for updates before you proceed.

Obviously, you’ll also need Google Messages installed on your phone as well. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store, and it should be compatible with most devices.

Once your phone is updated and Google Messages is installed, you can set Messages as your default texting app from within settings. This process will differ slightly depending on the Android model you have, but the easiest way to do this is by opening Google Messages after installing it, and then following the on-screen prompts to set it as your default texting app.

If you’ve ignored these prompts in the past and you don’t want to redownload the app, you can search your Android’s settings for “chat” or “text” to narrow down the possibilities for where the default texting app setting is hiding.

There is one last step you’ll need to accomplish before you can actually use Google Messages’ chat features, and that’s enabling the features themselves. Google Messages will usually prompt you to upgrade to these features once you start a conversation (this typically takes the form of a message asking if you want to see when your friends are typing), but you can also navigate to Google Message settings, elect to “turn Chat on”, and follow the ensuing prompts.

From here, you’re free to use Messages, much like you would iMessage; you can react to messages by long-pressing them, check and respond to messages from Google Messages on your computer, organize and view message history, and so on. If you’re someone who feels like you missed out on the iMessage craze–or you’ve recently switched from an iPhone to an Android–Google Messages should feel right at home on your phone.

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“Mine” helps you find your digital footprint and DELETE it

(TECH NEWS) Most people value their online security, but don’t know to manage their data without abandoning the apps and websites that they love. Mine is trying to change that.

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I’m pretty concerned with keeping my personal data safe these days: I recently got a VPN and I try to use a privacy browser for everything I do on the internet. But it’s impossible to completely avoid sharing my personal information, especially if I want to watch, buy, say, or do anything at all online.

So when I first heard about Mine, a new machine-learning tool which claims to be “the future of data ownership”, it really piqued my interest. 

Using your email history, Mine identifies companies that are most likely to be storing your information based on the headers of the messages in your inbox. Its AI then independently locates the privacy policies for these companies to determine what kinds of information they’re storing, rather than looking through the actual contents of your emails.

Mine seems very mindful of the fact that they must be trustworthy in order to be successful. It’s free right now while they’re still new; Mine only got started in January. But they have plans to introduce a subscription service in the future.

To quote their FAQ: “Tech companies that are not interested in your money are interested in your data, your online behavior, or other personal assets they can monetize. In other words, if an app is free, they’re probably getting their money from somewhere else 🙂 Our goal is the opposite – we want to make data ownership accessible for all without monetizing our users’ data.”

Of course, when I saw the smiley face, I figured I’d give it a shot. Hey, if they help me get my information out of the hands of a less smiley entity, everything evens out, right?

After sifting through my emails, Mine spat out a list of the places that were allegedly storing my information. I was pretty shocked to see around 100 different companies pop up. Some of them were there for obvious reasons. Google, for example, was self-explanatory… but there were also names that I could swear I’ve never heard of.

I ended up submitting over 50 data deletion requests. The tool made it really easy to see who had my information, and streamlined the process of sending requests to these companies. With two taps, it was bombs away.

My inbox was suddenly buried in automated messages, mostly about how “support” would get back to me “as soon as possible.” I spent the next few days virtually waist deep in what was, for all intents and purposes, spam mail.

The select few that promptly, and properly, addressed my request produced mixed results: only three companies immediately confirmed that they had erased the data they were storing about me. The rest were going to make me do a bit more legwork, with each having their own rabbit holes for me to jump through before they would delete a dang thing. I won’t lie, this frustrated me, but the reasons for these extra steps are not necessarily sinister.

When I spoke to Gal Ringel, co-founder and CEO of Mine, he shared that often, companies do this because they need to be provided with more information than an email address in order to fully complete the request. He says that Mine will soon be incorporating “enriched” data erasure requests that should cut back on the need to inconvenience users with these outside processes.

In the meantime, he and his team have been working with businesses to develop policies that facilitate the process of data erasure. The majority of businesses, he says, consider it a good investment in building trust with the public. It’s also a prudent move to prevent identity theft, should others gain access to their records.

So, what’s my verdict on Mine? It really simplified the process of asking companies to delete my personal information. It is an important step on a long journey towards redefining the relationships that we have with our data, since the majority of people simply don’t have an accessible way to exercise control over it.

Mine is still in development, and I really look forward to seeing what it becomes in the future. (Hopefully, something that involves fewer emails!)

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