Today is the first day of owning a BlackBerry Storm 2 and as with every BlackBerry, you can get apps preloaded, from App World, and from third party stores such as ours.
In general, carriers do a fairly bad job at preloading your device with applications that are useful. Alternatively, there are a ton of great apps in App World and elsewhere that anyone can download. So let’s take a look at the state of the apps for the Storm2 at launch.
Preloaded: VZ Navigator by Verizon Wireless and Networks in Motion
Description: VZ Navigator is one of the few preloaded apps on a Verizon device that is actually very useful. The app takes a little while to find a GPS signal, but I find the delay to be pretty standard. One of the great things about this application being on the Storm2, is that the large, high resolution screen makes it easy to read maps. The speakerphone on the Storm2 is fairly loud too, which makes audio directions easy to follow.
Alternatives: In App World, Telenav is one of the best applications but sadly it’s not available for the BlackBerry Storm2. Personally, I would be happy sticking to VZ Navigator for the time being, until some of the other companies catch up.
Preloaded: V CAST Music by Rhapsody
Description: The V CAST Music app is one of many music applications that carriers load onto your device and it charges way too much for what it offers. If you want music on your device, just side load your personal library. It’s incredibly easy.
Alternatives: As for a third party music service, I would love to recommend the 7digital music service,
but at the time of writing this, it is not available for the 9550. The App World product page lists it as available for the 9700, but no Storm2 love. Looks like you’re going to have to stick to side-loading.
UPDATE: It turns out that the 7Digital app is available for the Storm2, it just hasn’t worked its way out of App World’s web cache yet. So feel free to download this application as an alternative to V CAST.
Preloaded: V Cast Song ID
Description: V Cast Song ID tells you what you’re listening to. Just play the song for the app and it will analyze the song and search the database for a match. Personally, I found it rarely works.
Alternatives: Again, I would be happy to recommend Shazam, but at the time of writing this, it is also not available in App World for the Storm2 9550. Unless BlackBerry Cool readers can find something else, you’re out of luck.
Preloaded: VzwTones by RealNetworks
Description: VZW Tones, like V CAST music, is not giving you any value for money. Again, I’m not saying you should illegally download music and side load it, as cheap as that is, I’m saying there is a more economical way of getting ringtones.
Alternatives: This is one area where the BlackBerry Cool store actually offers some great applications for the Storm2. MP3 Ringtone Creator ($6.95) and Business Professional Ringtones are two examples. If you’re looking for mainstream artists, you’ll have to refer back to the V CAST Music alternatives.
Preloaded: The Sims 3 and Tetris
Description: Both of these games come preloaded on the Verizon Storm2 and they definitely aren’t the best games available. In what was probably a big cash deal, EA seems to have bought the exclusive rights to the gaming section, leaving no room for what are much better games.
Alternatives: Games available for the Storm2 in App World include Flight Path (FREE), Pixelated Plus ($2.99), and Parking Lot ($2.99). The BlackBerry Cool store has some great content as well. We sell Berry Wars ($1.99), Jewel Breaker ($1.49) and Nintaii, one of the few Storm specific games out there ($4.99)
Preloaded: Slacker Radio
Description: Like the VZ Navigator, it’s almost surprising when you find an application that you like come preloaded on a device. Slacker is a perfectly good radio player for the Storm2 and I would recommend trying it out.
Alternatives: Also worth considering is Nobex Radio Companion ($3.99). With over 4000 radio stations from around the world, it’s definitely worth trying.
Preloaded: City ID
Description: City ID is a very basic app that for free, will display the city and state for a number you enter. For $1.99 per month, City ID will display the City & State of an incoming call.
Alternatives: Ideally, you would download Poynt for the Storm2, but as of writing this article, it is not available. What is available for the Storm2 is Privus. For $5.99 per month, Privus gives you true caller ID. It’s more accurate than traditional caller ID as it gives you the name of those not in your Address Book.
Other apps that come preloaded on the device include:
- MySpace by RIM
- Yahoo! Messenger by RIM
- Google Talk by RIM
- AOL Instant Messenger by RIM
- Windows Live Messenger
As I have received this device just before launch, I can’t be 110% certain that my device looks exactly like yours, but I’m fairly positive. For example, I can’t be certain if it’s just my device, but it seems as though BlackBerry App World finally comes fully preloaded with the device. Before, App World was a web link, or totally non-existent.
Also, the Verizon BlackBerry Storm 9550 I have here did not come preloaded with BlackBerry Messenger. This is incredibly strange and it may just be the device I have on me. If you purchased the device today, let us know. Did it come with BBM?
UPDATE: I’ve just learned that while the review unit I’m using is using final software, there are a few apps that will be preloaded at retail that are not on my unit. They are:
Description: Bing is the search engine by Microsoft; the Ballmer answer to Google. In fact, Ballmer has even called Google out, saying: “We’re going to do things that surprise [Google], and they’re going to hustle to catch back up and copy us.” Bing is actually a pretty decent search tool, and it would have been nice to have this preloaded on the device to compare with Google.
Preloaded: V-Cast Video
Description: The V CAST Video service offers some semi-brands including the Comedy Network, Adult Swim, ABC News, ESPN, NBC etc. While the branding sounds good, the content itself is mediocre. The service costs $10 a month and you don’t get any full episodes of your favorite shows. Even though the Verizon website says you can watch full games, a Verizon rep told me today that this isn’t the full truth. You may get some games in full, but the vast majority are only in clip form.
Alternatives: At this point, there is really nothing better than YouTube. Until the major broadcasting companies see value in bringing full quality content to your device, we’re stuck with clips. If we’re going to be watching clips, just stick to YouTube, it’s free and probably has more clips than Verizon will ever have.
Preloaded: Visual Voicemail
Description: The Visual Voicemail application from Verizon is a welcomed feature. The service costs $2.99 (not positive on the price, their website isn’t the easiest to navigate), making it a decent add-on to your plan.
Alternatives: PhoneTag is a really good premium voicemail service. The voicemail gets transcribed and sent to your email inbox, making it an effective way to check and prioritize your mail. It’s much more expensive ($9.95 per month) than the Verizon Visual Voicemail, but it also provides a little more value.