Smartphones: 14 Great Things iPhones and BlackBerrys Can Do
Play Internet Radio on a BlackBerry, 4 Different Ways
Apple iPhones don't need to have all the fun. Your RIM BlackBerry can tune in to many sources of Internet radio, giving you the perfect background music--or talk programs--for a commute or some R&R at the airport. Just be sure you have an unlimited data plan before indulging in any of these four streamers.
XM Radio Mobile on BlackBerry: Take advantage of the mobile version of XM satellite radio on your BlackBerry. It serves up 18 music and 2 comedy channels, for which you'll have to pay a monthly $8 subscription fee. Note that not all BlackBerry models are supported.
Pandora Radio: The free version of Pandora for BlackBerry gently introduces you to unfamiliar music with similarities to your favorite songs. You can rate favorites and skip disappointing picks to help the service fine-tune its recommendations. When you find an unknown band that becomes your new favorite, bookmark it in the service to return later.
FlyCast: The wide range of music genres and talk stations on the free FlyCast for BlackBerry echo what you'd get with a regular radio--if your radio could tune in to stations from around the world. Internet-streaming genres, such as '80s and club hits, complete the vast selection.
Slacker Portable Radio App: A hybrid of streaming and caching, the free Slacker Portable Radio app can, in addition to streaming tunes, let you save gigabytes of music to a microSD card in your BlackBerry. Slacker allows you to store favorite stations on the card so that you still have music in areas where a network connection is limited or nonexistent, such as on airplanes or in tunnels. Enter a favorite musician or song, and the app will spin a personal station based on your preferences.
Make Free Phone Calls From an iPod Touch
You're now able to make free phone calls via the Internet on Apple's iPhone using the new Skype for the iPhone app. But if you own a second-generation iPod Touch, you can also make free calls, even though the Touch technically isn't a phone.
Skype's iPhone app will work with any second-gen Touch as long as you use headphones with a microphone built into the earphone cord. (Unfortunately, the original Touch has no audio-in capability.) On top of that, you'll need just a Wi-Fi network. The app allows you to make free calls to other Skype users and paid calls to non-Skype users. I like Skype's ubiquity and audio quality, but it has competitors; you might want to try Truphone instead. (For more on Truphone, see "Get Your Cell Phone Charges Under Control.")
Induce a Cold, Dead Phone Battery to Send One Last Text
Since many ski and snowboard mountains are covered by mobile networks, your phone can be a handy communications tool on the slopes. I especially like sending text messages to coordinate plans with friends unobtrusively. But if you forget to charge your handset and it runs out of juice, you still might be able to revive it and send one last text.
Cold weather reduces a battery's charge. If your phone shut itself off due to the cold, warm it up. Pop off the battery and put it next to any warm part of your skin (against your head, under your arm). Once the battery is warmer, try powering the phone back up; there's a good chance it'll have just enough juice for you to send a quick text.
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