Since my post on enabling Google Maps with GPS on the BlackBerry Curve 8310 is very popular I decided to share with you how I customized my Blackberry to make day to day usage efficient and fun.
As a first step I reviewed the different Themes (Options -> Themes). I decided to go with the “BB Dimension Today” Theme. Having the latest unread messages, upcoming appointments and missed call information all on the homescreen is a great feature and allows me to get the key information I need at a glance.
Another important decision is the assignment of the left and right buttons on the side of the Blackberry. They will allow you to access important apps without using the trackball. Got to Options -> Screen/Keyboard and scroll down to the “Convenience Key Opens” menu items. I decided to leave the right side key with the default which is the camera, so that I can start it quickly for a snapshot. I changed the assignment of the left side button to “Browser”. That allows me to open the integrated web browser easily, which I use to Twitter and to check my Google Reader.
While you are in the Screen/Keyboard options menu you might also want to adjust the Backlight Timeout (I use 30 seconds) and turn off the key tones and trackball sound (Set “Trackball – Audible Roll” to Mute).
Next I switched over to the applications screen (with the button left of the trackball, lets call it menu button). Wow what a mess! So many application icons, many of them I will never use. I checked out every application and decided to keep the following icons (to hide an application icon highlight it and press the menu button and select “Hide”):
Profiles – Since I need to switch often from Normal to Vibrate mode this is my most important icon
Messages – E-mail is obviously the heart of the Blackberry
Calendar – Also important, but often it is sufficient to me to check the upcoming meetings on the home screen
Browser – I actually have the browser as a shortcut on the left side button so I rarely use the icon to access it
Media – Just use it to browse the pictures which I took with the integrated camera
Lock – That is another icon I need a lot, so it is just on scroll click away from the top
VoiceDialing – For me that was the big surprise feature. If you have not yet used it try it out now. It does not require to record the names, but applies voice recognition based on the spelling of the names in the directory. Works great for me (without any training), especially with a Bluetooth headset
Camera – I have the camera as a shortcut on the rigtht side button so I don’t use this icon that often
Tasks – Frankly I have not used tasks at all so far (don’t use them in Outlook either), but thought the app might come handy eventually
MemoPad – The MemoPad is a little useful application. I use it to keep track of my baby son’s weight and height, gift wishes from my wife and other random things
Alarm – I use the Alarm when I am traveling, since I do not trust hotel alarm clocks. Did you know you can turn the Blackberry off and the Alarm will still work? Just don’t take out the battery
Gmail – For my private email I use the Google Gmail client for Blackberry
Google Maps – What a great app. Just got much better with version 2.0.1.
Options – Need to be able to continue to tweek the Blackberry
Manage Connections – This has significantly improved over older Blackberries. You can easily enable/disable Network as well as Bluetooth connections
Turn Power Off
You really want to make sure that the most important apps for you which are not accessible via buttons on the device can be accessed with no or minimum usage of the trackball. So the most important app is in the upper left corner, other important apps down or left of it and so on.
Now let’s talk about customizing the sounds your Blackberry makes. Adjusting the ringtone is actually not as straightforward as I thought. Keeping in mind that all sounds are associated with the profile which is active, select “Profiles”, scroll down to “Advanced…”, select the profile you want to modify (let’s say your active one) and hit the menu button (left to the trackball). Select “Edit”.
To change the ringtone, select phone and then you can change the Tune (second menu item). I am using the Ringer_ClassicPhone. Here you can also adjust the volume and other parameters.
That’s it for today. Hope you have fun with your Blackberry and let me know some of your customization tips in the comments.
Last week I upgraded my 2 year old Blackberry to the latest BlackBerry Curve 8310. So far I am pretty happy with it. I spend about an hour to customize it to my needs. The Voice Dialing is a great feature. Unlike older phones it does not require you to record all names, but it uses speech recognition on your existing address book.
The key new feature of the 8310 however is the integrated GPS. I noticed on Internet forums that a number of people have challenges using the GPS with Google Maps. I guess that’s not surprising since RIM does not advertise this feature, pushing instead the paid for maps and direction service from TeleNav. After some tinkering I have good news. Free Google Maps works great with the integrated GPS and here is how I got it to work:
1) Make sure that the GPS is working and has connection to satellites. Go to Options -> Advanced Options -> GPS -> select the menu and choose “Refresh GPS”. The display will tell you the number of satellites it can reach and your location. I noticed it does not work in my office in San Jose or in close range to high rise buildings.
2) Download Google Maps from google.com/gmm (using the Blackberry browser) and follow the instructions to install it on your Blackberry (I have Google Maps version 2.0.1). Do not use the Google Suite installer for Blackberry (which includes additional Google apps), since according to some reports has a different Google Maps version which does not work with the internal GPS.
3) Go to Options -> Applications -> Google Maps -> select the menu and choose “Edit Permissions”; Select connections and select the menu to expand it. Make sure you allow “Location (GPS)” and “Carrier Internet” connections for the app.
4) Save the changes. Go back the applications menu and start Google Maps. Hit “0” and it should now show a blinking point which indicates your current location.