BlackBerry picking: a fresh crop of apps for all users
The BlackBerry has played an important part in our adoption of handheld devices over the last decade since it started out life as an email pager. Various incarnations later, the BlackBerry has developed from a simple push-email device and is now considered to be a fully-fledged smartphone with Internet, music, video and camera functions to rival its competitors, BlackBerry’s latest Z10 and Q10 units were announced in January in bid to revive the device’s waning popularity in the face competition from the iPhone and new Windows Phone 8, such as the Nokia Lumia 920.
Despite some rough press treatment at times, many users have become quite emotionally attached to their so-called “Crack-Berry” over the years. US President Obama has been pictured carrying one in a belt holster on the Air Force One jet — and pop singer Madonna has been rumoured to sleep with one under her pillow.
But this handheld’s best apps today go beyond straightforward email, SMS messaging or the firm’s own BBM BlackBerry Messenger instant chat service. Given the manufacturer’s apparent affection for the Middle East marketplace, let’s look at what’s currently getting thumbs twiddling on new BlackBerry 10 devices here in the Gulf.
Shopping: Shops and Rewards
A free download built specially for users in the UAE, Shops and Rewards is a GPS-driven location app designed to provide what is described as a ‘targeted shopping experience’ to all. Retail offers are presented based on the users’ input preferences and location details at any one time. There is also the promise of interesting gifts for free, based on users’ social activities, as the app also interacts with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and BlackBerry Maps. Budget conscious husbands, you have been warned.
Not content with operating one of the newest and most popular fleets in the skies today, Qatar Airways has also provided the discerning traveller with a dedicated BlackBerry app. Capable of searching and booking flights, this app also presents a flight status checker that should work as fast as the individual user’s web connection. Travel alerts, special fare and package offers, plus additional journey information are all available here. There’s almost everything you need, except details of whether you’re going to sit next to a screaming baby.
Anghami is a new digital music app that offers listeners in the Middle East unlimited Arabic & other international music to stream and download. Anghami provides the Gulf BlackBerry 10 user with millions of songs. Tracks are featured from Rotana, Mazzika, Melody and others. Music fans in the Middle East can also enjoy international tracks from major labels such as EMI, Warner and Sony. Before you ask, as with every music service on the planet, yes there will be plenty of Coldplay available.
Entertainment: Grand Cinemas
With the largest group of movie theatres operating in the Middle East you would expect Grand Cinemas to know a thing about glitz and glamour. Gone are the days of voice recognition cinema showtime phone lines — now that we can dial into web powered services like this one to give us information such as Now Showing, Coming Soon, Show Timing and Film Rating. The app won’t unfortunately tell you whether the popcorn is over priced or whether the person in front of you has left their phone on.
Mobile banking is something of a thorny and sensitive issue for a lot of users who have up until now failed to place their trust in remote services that promise to connect securely with their account details. As one of a number aiming to buck the trend here in the Gulf region, Emirates NBD now offers a mobile banking application experience with options to view a financial summary position and scheduled transactions. Users can view current accounts, savings and deposits details along with transaction history. As well as other more ‘passive’ services such as the option to check loan details, users can also initiate more ‘live’ actions such as managing a credit card, making payments or carrying out a cash advance to a current account.
All the applications featured here are built for BlackBerry 10 devices although versions of many applications will work with the same or near functionality on other recently released BlackBerry units. Applications can be found from BlackBerry World on users’ devices or via the online webstore.
Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist who specialises in software applications, gadgets and games