Give Your BlackBerry An Apple iPhone Makeover

BlackBerry users are addicts, hence the nickname "CrackBerry" for the smart phones that made mobile email a staple. But with all of the hullabaloo surrounding Friday's launch of the Apple iPhone 3G, a lot of BlackBerry users might feel a little, well, blue. Yeah, the iPhone is a neat toy, but BlackBerry devices, made by Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion (RIM), have more of a place in business. Here we've rounded up a handful of applications and tools you can download to your BlackBerry to give it more of an iPhone feel and prove you can teach an old dog new tricks. Skip the lines at the Apple Store; who needs an iPhone when your trusty BlackBerry can mimic one? The only thing they won't offer is touch-screen capabilities. Guess you'll have to wait for the BlackBerry Thunder for that.

Is That An iPhone Or A bPhone?

Do you like those flashy icons on the iPhone's home screen? We bet you do. But, guess what, you have a BlackBerry, and your company likely wouldn't be too happy if you show up with a brand-spankin' new Apple iPhone 3G. Well, fret no more. bPhone for BlackBerry promises "the beauty of an iPhone; the power of a BlackBerry."

bPhone for BlackBerry features icons straight from the iPhone, along with some custom-made icons that fit the iPhone them. According to bPhone, the top banner is dark glass, the signal and batter indicators were created from scratch to mimic the iPhone's, the "busy" indicator is the Mac OS X beach ball, and the device takes full advantage of Mac's and iPhone's primary interface colors (grey and blue).

Downloadable over the air or to the desktop, bPhone puts those sweet icons on your BlackBerry's home screen. Currently, bPhone can iPhone-up BlackBerry models like the BlackBerry 8700 series, the BlackBerry 8830, all versions of the BlackBerry Pearl, all versions of the BlackBerry Curve and the BlackBerry 8800. One hitch: you must be running BlackBerry OS 4.2.1 or later for this to work. In the case of the Curve and 8830, however, BlackBerry OS 4.2.2 is required. Trying to run bPhone on the wrong OS may crash your BlackBerry, so choose wisely.

bPhone is offered at no charge, but the folks behind it accept small donations.

Tired of having to carry around an iPod and your BlackBerry (especially when you have the itch to hear your favorite song by Squeeze), but don't want to join the Cult of iPhone? Now you have another option. For $19.99 you can grab Melodeo's nuTsie client, which lets you upload yours' and your friends' iTunes playlists to a BlackBerry.

Currently, nuTsie is supported on the BlackBerry 8100 Pearl, BlackBerry 8120, Blackberry 8130, BlackBerry 8300, Blackberry 8310, BlackBerry 8320, BlackBerry 8330, BlackBerry 8800, BlackBerry 8820 and BlackBerry 8830, but once the software is installed, you can create an account and begin uploading your tunes. Take that iPhone!

Is the Apple iPhone's visual voicemail feature a big draw, but maybe not big enough for you to toss out your BlackBerry and wait in line with the other Appleheads? Now you can listen and see your voicemail from the comfort of your BlackBerry with a little help from SimulSays. SimulSays is a PhoneTag powered application that brings visual voicemail directly to a BlackBerry. With it, users can scroll, click and listen to voicemail. It displays voicemail on the handset screen to let users listen now, listen later, and scroll through to find voicemails. All messages are stored in chronological order and display the caller ID, date and time of the message. Voice messages can be replied to by email, SMS or phone with a scroll and click.

SimulSays offers unlimited messages for $4.99 per month, however it is free with any PhoneTag automated transcription service. It is compatible with BlackBerry 8800, 8830, Pearl 8100 and Curve 8300. SimulSays also works with non-touch-screen Windows Mobile smart phones.

SimulSays' visual voicemail, like the iPhone's, lets BlackBerry users listen to voicemail without using airtime minutes; manages and deletes voicemail directly from the handset; integrates with users' address books for caller names, numbers and email addresses; lets users reply to voicemail by email, SMS or phone; and let's them forward voicemail audio files by email.

To get iPhone-esque online photos, audio and video, BlackBerry users need to look no further than Blueapple, a service that lets you trudge through millions of items in multiple formats that have been converted to work on BlackBerrys. Taking content from YouTube and a host of other online services, Blueapple lets BlackBerry users bookmark content and share it with others through SMS text messages.

To get the rich content onto your BlackBerry, head over to Blueapple's Web site either on your BlackBerry browser or your PC. Blueapple promises to let BlackBerry users search more than 100 million videos and pictures from around the Internet, directly on the device. It extends Internet sites to mobile users without the need to worry about formats, flows or handsets. And it gives mobile portal users a "dynamic video experience similar to what is on the web, capitalizing on the increased use of mobile video." Pictured here is diagram of how Blueapple works.

Apple iPhone 3G may be offering maps with GPS, something the first-generation iPhone lacked, but several BlackBerry models already offer GPS and mapping functionality.

According to RIM, BlackBerry Pearl 8110, Pearl 8130, Curve 8310, Curve 8330, 8800, 8820 and 8830 World Edition feature built-in GPS capabilities that work with the BlackBerry Maps application, along with other location-based applications and services, to pinpoint your geographic location or access turn-by-turn navigation. And if you want to branch out, a host of other third-party GPS and navigation services are available for the handsets. GPS-makers like Garmin (pictured), Trimble Outdoors and TeleNav offer mobile GPS solutions tailored to work on BlackBerrys to offer colorful 3-D moving maps, turn-by-turn voice directions, traffic alerts, rerouting notices and a host of other features.