Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to Multitask on your BlackBerry


It has been nearly a month since I have posted a How-To article, and I must apologize. Things have been a little crazy behind the scenes here at BBerryDog lately, and from the rumors and WES nearing, I have a feeling things could get even crazier in the coming weeks.
Anyways, now that you are coming to know your BlackBerry well, and are learning to be increasingly efficient at what you do with it, you are probably finding yourself looking for ways to work faster and be more productive with it. There are several ways to accomplish this. For some the stock features of the BlackBerry operating system will suffice, and for others a third-party solution will be necessary.
The apparent easiest way to multiple-task on a BlackBerry is to set your most used applications to your right and left side convenience keys. Your convenience key settings can be found in Options under Screen/Keyboard. Of course, this will only allow you to do so much. Another option is to press the menu key within an application and scroll to the very bottom of the menu list. At the bottom you will see the option for Switch Application. The same thing can be done by long pressing (roughly 2 seconds). When either of these are done a pop-up will appear in the center of the display revealing what applications are currently running. (Note: Messages, Browser, Phone, Home Screen, and BlackBerry Messenger will always appear as open.) This is called Application Switcher and it will allow you to switch between open applications very quickly.
If you are within an application and you are trying to start another without closing the current application you are working in you can simply launch the Application Switcher and select the icon labeled Home Screen. This will take you back to your applications page where you can easily launch another application. The second way to accomplish the same task is to simply press the end (red) key. Pressing the end key will minimize the application rather than closing out of it, to help keep your place, and it will take you back to the home screen. If you are within an application and want to fully close the application press the back key repeatedly (until you have fully backed out) or hold the back key until the application closes. Some applications are programmed to stay open unless you physically force the, to exit. If long pressing the end key does not work (you can check this by opening the Application Switcher to see if the application closed to was minimized), open the application back up, press the menu key, and scroll down to either the option to Close or Exit. Every developer is different and thus each application may act differently.
Now, for those of you who are reading this saying, “Okay, I know this already…”, this is only what RIM offers out of the box. The first thing I ever do to a new BlackBerry when I get it is install an application called QuickLaunch. I find it to be the most useful application for multitasking that I have used to date.  QuickLaunch is developed by NikkiSoft and is available for $4.99 in AppWorld. The whole idea of QuickLaunch is to set it to either your right or left side convenience key so that you can access it from any application. When you open QuickLaunch it looks very much the same as when you press the menu key. You can add as many applications to this list as you please with submenus. You can even add media to the list so you can have quick access to certain pictures or songs, etc. This application was voted best productivity application for BlackBerry for a reason. If you are looking to increase productivity and multi-task more easily, you should definitely consider QuickLaunch.
QuickLaunch is not, by any means, the only solution. Another application I bought that I really like is Super QWERTY, developed by MMMOOO and available in AppWorld for $3.99. When you install this application, it will show up in your system menus for quick access. The way Super QWERTY works is if you are in an application, you can press the menu key, select Super QWERTY to launch it. When the application loads you will have an alphabetical list of every application on your BlackBerry. You can edit the list to have hotkey launchers (IE pressing c will launch Compose SMS) for faster application launching. Super QWERTY is not as simple to use as QuickLaunch, nor as intuitive, but they both work really well. There are many other applications available in the MobiHand app store and AppWorld that can help multi-taskers do exactly what they’re looking to do; it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you.
The BlackBerry is a very efficient tool when used for multi-tasking and can handle the job very well if you maintain your device memory (clean out inboxes often, run memory cleaner, etc.). The help of a few third-party applications makes it just that much better at its job.
Remember: Leaving applications open (minimizing rather than closing) can drain your battery. Always remember to close your applications when you are done with them to preserve that sweet battery life;-)
If anyone has any question regarding multi-tasking on your BlackBerry, feel free to email me at 
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