Technology & Social Media

Annoyed by your BlackBerry Storm? These apps can help

Storm Saturdays at CPA Success are usually spent reviewing online tools that can help increase our productivity. Keep in mind that we do not endorse any of these services. We simply offer them up for your consideration. Do your own homework and find the service that best meets your needs.

You say you own a BlackBerry Storm?

I feel your pain.

I got my Storm shortly after the device was released, and so far ours has been a love-hate relationship. I love the browser, the messaging and some of the Storm's little bells and whistles, like the Flickr app that allows you to take a photo and then upload it to your Flickr photostream in one step. Cool.

In fact, the device's biggest plus might be it's "cool" factor. The thing is just flippin' cool.

Some of its drawbacks, though, are really, really annoying. For instance:

Whenever I use the phone, the mute and speakerphone functions are displayed as big buttons on the Storm's touchscreen -- and I'll inevitably press one of those buttons when I press the phone against my head. I'll be yapping away and suddenly discover that the conversation is being broadcast to the world via speakerphone or, worse yet, that I've muted my end of the conversation.

I'm a huge Twitter fan, and I initially found that the most renowned Twitter app for BlackBerry -- Twitterberry -- was impossible to use in the Storm's landscape mode, which is the way I prefer to type on the device.

As with most things these days, though, solutions do exist.

Let's start with those annoying buttons for the photo functions. There's a free application called TalkLock that will take care of that problem. TalkLock simply locks the Storm's touchscreen whenever the phone is activated. When you end the call, TalkLock automatically reactivates the screen. It also gives you the option of manually activating the screen during a call, if you prefer. It's brilliant in its simplicity, and it works as advertised. I haven't mistakenly put anyone on speakerphone since I installed the app.

Also, it turns out you can use Twitterberry in landscape mode. All you have to do is disable Twitterberry's "compatibility mode." It's easy to do:

  1. Go to "Options."
  2. Under "Options," go to "Advanced Options."
  3. Choose "Applications."
  4. Highlight the application for which you'd like to disable the compatibility mode -- in this case, Twitterberry.
  5. Press the Storm's menu button.
  6. Choose "Disable compatibility mode."

Voila! The next time you use Twitterberry, you should be able to use it in landscape mode as well. That should also work with any application for which you'd like to use the landscape keyboard.

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that Twitterberry is sorely lacking in functionality. (You can't retweet a post in Twitterberry. What's up with that?) At Jeff De Cagna's suggestion, I'm playing around with an application called SocialScope that looks like it'll pretty much kick Twitterberry's butt. Stay tuned.

What's your favorite Storm solution?


Bill Sheridan