BlackBerry Apps

While reading, actually scanning through to articles of interest and the ads of radio equipment I want in the November 2011 issue of QST; one article that caught my eye was “Android Apps for the Amateur”. Then as a supplement to this article was apps for the Iphone. But no where was there mention of Blackberry apps (nor Windows Mobile either). Guess it is (painfully) obvious that Android & Iphone seem to be the predominant platforms for building Amateur Radio apps. Yes, this is disheartening for me being a loyal Blackberry user from back when I worked in paging and had a RIM 950 (I think it was the 950) on “the name escapes me” network. What was interesting was that these transmitters were co-located with many of my paging sites so that gave me an advantage to knowing where I would and would not have coverage. I eventually upgraded to a RIM device on Verizon Wireless through Earthlink and then moved to an 8850 still on Verizon Wireless. But I am getting off track here. Back when I had my first Blackberry I had interest in developing apps for the platform. Back then it was not as easy because you had to order a special cable to program the devices back then. I played around a little with the Development Environment. (Also at the same time played around some with the Development Environment for the Motorola Two-Way pagers. But nothing serious wss ever developed. Time was the biggest challenge, to sit and devote time that I wanted.
Fast forward to now…well, as in last year “Now”…in my search in trying to find a Blackberry app for APRS, Satellite Tracking also Echolink (after seeing the Iphone getting Echolink love) but very few Blackberry apps for Amateur Radio were found. There was one person making an app, have not visited the sites in quite awhile but from the last update it appeared that project was taking a different direction and going more toward geocaching than APRS. So this renewed my interest and desire in trying to learn how to develop on the Blackberry. I had gotten the Blackberry Development environment setup on one of my laptops following the instructions from the Blackberry Dev Site and started going through the tutorials….and then the laptop gets stolen. So have yet to replace the stolen laptop and start over again. Of course since then OS 6 and OS 7 have come out and hit the streets as well as the Playbook. Have not yet gone through seeing what is involved with developing and creating apps for OS 7. Just a look at the devices “maybe” the environment may be better suited for Amateur Radio apps. But this is just an observation and speculation. I have seen that there is already a BlackBerry OS 7 Development Book. So once I am able to acquire another laptop that I can use for again installing the Blackberry Development Environment and make another go at it between the other projects at work as well as the long list of personal projects, this one being high on the list.
There was hope for awhile with APRSBB but unfortunately the author of this app has decided to EOL the app. I did try to use it on my Storm II on Verizon Wireless but there was some issue with the app having permissions to access the device GPS with VZW devices, at least that is how I understood the author’s blog posts with regards to this issues. So I was never able to really test out or play with APRSBB. Was kind of disappointed to see that the app being EOL.
There was also strictly a Java based app that would run on the BlackBerry but could never get it to connect to the APRS-IS network. It was also something based on the date of the app something was not being actively developed.
Though kind of a true BB APRS app work-around I have been using Google Latitude and set up a web-object in aprs.fi, so I do have a pseudo APRS presence, just can’t be seen via the aprs.fi widgets since it is not a true APRS device. (yes, I have tried setting it up via a widget on my other blog without any luck)
I have also been using Instamapper on my Blackberry and gave it the N4TRQ-1 alias. Unfortunately no way (right now) to get this shown or into the APRS-IS network, but Instamapper is also being used in conjunction with Geoloqi. So maybe through using Layers in Geoloqi (or in Google Latitude) can have some type of simple APRS Blackberry presence/functionality. Geoloqi is also, at some time in the future have functionality via Google Latitude as well. I would prefer to use Google Latitude because it does not need GPS data for location and therefore would still function while inside. Granted, not as accurate a location and from person experience using Latitude via aprs.fi, does tend to bounce back and forth using the cell data for location, still very much usable. (Note: I am learning that while roaming Internationally, at least where I currently am, there is no usable cell data for location, I have to have a GPS signal for even Latitude to function. Now, I am on Verizon Wireless which is CDMA, and while roaming I am on a GSM/UTMS network, so not sure nor familiar with the protocols with regards to cell data location information for location aware apps.)
This is something that I am hoping to do a little more research on once I get back and get settled back into the day to day routine. On a side note I have noticed some very odd behavior with both my personal as well as my work Blackberry’s while roaming. Since both are doing it leads me to believe it is something else going on, but I will expand on this in a separate blog post.
I hope everything is clear here, been trying to write this post for the past several days between everything going on during this trip as well as dealing with these roaming data connectivity issues. I hope to have more updates and information soon.

Until next time….73s!

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