10 Essential BlackBerry Apps for Travel
Keep track of calls on the go with the BlackBerry version of Mobiso's Web-based contact management platform. Contacts can be synchronized with Google or Outlook; once they're imported, Mobiso automatically tracks call length for all calls or calls that meet specific criteria (for instance, only calls to and from people marked as business contacts, allowing you to keep your personal calls private).
When you complete a call, Mobiso offers the option of adding notes to describe the conversation. Your call logs can be exported from the online service as an Excel spreadsheet or imported directly into SugarCRM (using a SugarCRM plug-in) to keep your in-office and out-of-office records together.
An interesting feature is Mobiso Voice, which allows you to call into the Mobiso service and use voice commands to call individual contacts, set up conference calls or dictate e-mails.
The individual version of the app is free; corporations can install Mobiso companywide with the Mobiso Enterprise service, which costs $4.99 per user per month.
While apps like Poynt and WorldMate Live offer simple weather information, the free WeatherBug Direct app offers the depth of weather info you need to plan (and pack) just right.
In addition to current weather conditions, WeatherBug offers a simple (highs, lows and conditions) yet fully detailed seven-day forecast so you have a good idea of what to expect when you reach your destination. It also offers an hour-by-hour forecast so you'll be prepared for each day's weather when you leave your hotel room in the morning. When things get really bad, WeatherBug sends emergency alerts detailing the situation.
MyAssist places a personal assistant at your beck and call, 24 hours a day from wherever you are in the U.S. Need to make last-minute hotel reservations in an unfamiliar town? Forgot to send flowers for Mother's Day? Need a tow truck or medical attention? One click calls or e-mails your MyAssist expert, who can set you up with whatever you need: airplane bookings, limo reservations, golf or spa reservations, show or event tickets, translation services or even general trivia.
The service is $9.99 a month, not counting the services MyAssist connects you with (e.g., you'll still pay for the flowers that MyAssist arranges to have delivered).
Translate from and to any of over 50 languages with the Navita Translator, which uses Google and Bing translation services to produce surprisingly good translations. Most input languages are automatically detected, so you just have to pick the language you want to translate to and hit Enter. Navita also remembers whatever the "translate to" language was the last time you used the program.
The translation appears as text onscreen; you can also choose to have a computerized voice read it aloud -- useful for asking questions in a foreign country.
Navita Translator also integrates with the BlackBerry's software so you can translate text from the Web browser or e-mail simply by selecting it and hitting the menu key. Navita Translator is free with ads; for $9.99 you can upgrade to an ad-free version (with no added functionality).
Finding your parked car in a crowded metropolitan area can be a chore, especially if it's a generic and unfamiliar rental. Using CarFinder is simple: Save the location of your car (using your BlackBerry's built-in GPS) when you get out, walk to your destination, and then click "Find your car" when you're ready to leave.
CarFinder will produce a map back to your car, or use an arrow to lead you back. It's great for finding your car in a huge airport parking lot or busy shopping mall, too -- or finding your way back to the hotel after a long sightseeing stroll.
Related: 10 must-have free BlackBerry apps
Logan Kugler is a frequent Computerworld contributor. His most recent article was "The smart paranoid's guide to using Google."