Mobile apps? Sure, the iPhone may have its App Store as one of its killer features and boasts of having more than 20,000 apps already, but it’s pretty pointless when only around 1% were deemed useful. In the meantime, I have always thought that Symbian apps were mostly a joke. For a platform that’s based on weak hardware, has poor multitasking skills and a confusing file system, Symbian OS should be best left as a phone OS, rather than expanding its capabilities to other territories.
Enter Windows Mobile. Since the time I received my WM phone 4(!) years ago, I knew that one of its primary features was the support for programs, since I assumed that the core of the desktop OS would somehow be retained. I guessed right. Now, four years have passed, and I still enjoy using my phone because the apps never get old, even with the prospect of emerging new hardware and new technologies threatening to make my unit obsolete. I have listed down the apps I grew fond of, and which I use often. And have I mentioned that all of them were completely free/open-source?
There was a time when I lost my thumb drive, and this program became my lifesaver. With this program, my phone becomes a removable disk, with the files being sent to the SD card, essentially converting my phone into a card reader. This program is particularly useful especially when you have a high capacity card. For the record, most of my programs don’t consume a lot of space, and the largest file in my card, the dictionary file for Wikipedia, only consumes 177MB of disk space. My 1GB card usually have over 600MB of free space without media files.
- Internet Sharing
- SKTools Lite
- Playlist Manager
- CT Scheduler
- SRS WoW XT
The thing about Windows Mobile is that it shares many similarities with its desktop cousin. It still has a primary folder called My Documents, it also has its own registry, and it has the pocket versions of IE, Windows Media Player and even Outlook (and the pocket version of Office can also be installed, and they are capable of reading the latest versions of Office documents). However, even though the Start Menu is there, it didn’t even have the remotest semblance to that which is found on the desktop. Until now, that is. In addition to the Start Menu, this program also has a task manager, a screen capture and AutoLock utility.
The core of the commercial media player CorePlayer was actually based on an open-source project named TCPMP, which means “The Core Pocket Media Player.” Even though the project itself has been discontinued, the program still continues to receive updates, and the current version is at 0.81. But as for the merits of this program, it’s hands down the best media player for mobile, it supports all the major audio and video formats, and more importantly, it supports plugins, such as the FLV and subtitle plugin.
Every multitasking OS requires a task manager, and of all the task managers available for WM, this is my favorite. As usual it lists down the tasks and processes running (the former refers to the programs you are currently running, while the latter are those that run in the background, kind of like those usually found in the system tray), and you can terminate them should you want to. In addition, it also measures the battery and memory levels, and it even has a utility to free system memory up to 2MB. But what I like about this program is that you can force run this app even in the middle of running programs (with a long press of the Home key), which makes it ideal for terminating apps that are crashing.
Like its desktop cousin, this program is also used for working with pictures. In addition to the standard image formats, it also supports many other formats such as PCX, WBMP, TGA, PSD, ICO, etc. It can also do basic tasks such as slide shows, color adjustment, cropping and it can even convert files from one format to another.
At first, I ignored this program, which was included when I first upgraded my phone to WM5, until I realized just what a wonderful program it is. With this program, why should you spend P1995 for a device when you already have a device that offers the same functionality: your phone? As the rather generic name suggests, this program lets you share your phone’s Internet connection with your computer. But what distinguishes this program from others is its relative ease of deployment. Just connect the unit to your desktop, run the program, and after a one-time and quick driver installation, you can now browse the Net. You don’t even need to perform additional setups or configurations, or install additional software such as phone suites. Also, this is very convenient specially in the absence of WiFi, or when your disgusted with your mobile phone’s tiny screen. My only gripe with this program is that my phone is only capable of EDGE, not 3G, so I can only browse on dialup speeds.
No, that’s not a typo, it’s not MsDict, even though they offer the same functionality. MDict is not a dictionary app, it’s a dictionary viewer. In order to fully use this program, you still need to get the MDX file for a certain type of dictionary, but they are still worth acquiring, particularly the Webster Dictionary and the aforementioned Wikipedia encyclopedia, which is capable of giving information on any topic existing before 2004 (man, I’ve been waiting patiently for an update but I’ve waited for a long time now). You can get some MDX files here.
I was never completely sold to eBooks before. Even though most titles are reasonably easier (and cheaper, hell you can obtain some for free) to acquire, I couldn’t really stand viewing the document from the monitor, because I look like a complete idiot staring at the screen for hours. But when I have known about this program, I knew I found the perfect platform for reading eBooks. The program is actually composed of two components, the first one being the desktop client for managing your library (and it even looks like a bookshelf!), converting the eBooks into PRC format and finally, synching the docs to your mobile. The second one is the reader installed in your unit used to view the docs. The converter supports major formats such as TXT, RTF, DOC, HTML, PDF and even CHM. You even have the option to include the pictures. The mobile app, on the other hand, opens documents quickly, regardless of file size, and you can also place bookmarks or search within the document. I’m a self-confessed bookworm, and has read plenty of books. Hell, I even finished Deathly Hallows within two nights with this app.
This program contains lots of utilities, such as hardware tests, the Add/Remove program utility, system information, registry scanners and plenty others. It even has an AutoClean utility that removes temporary Internet files, unused registry entries, empty directories and bad shortcuts, and a FreeRAM utility, both of which are accessible from the Start Menu.
This program provides a very simple function, and yet it’s very fun. When you receive an SMS, a popup appears on the taskbar displaying the complete message, even when the keypad is locked. It’s very convenient because you don’t even have to access a lot of menus or press a lot of buttons just to view your message.
Still not enough? What about assigning individual message tones to each of your contacts? Now, you can identify who’s txting you just by hearing the message tone. Extremely cool, huh?
There were plenty of stand-alone apps that can make playlists on WM, and some media players also lets you create and save playlists, but no one can match the simplicity of this program. To make a new playlist, just press the “New Playlist…” or click an existing one, click add, navigate to the folder containing your media files, and check those files that you want to add to your playlist.
It’s too easy to guess that this program lets you read Bibles. It has a verse chooser, so you can go directly to a verse, or bookmark them. It even lets you write notes for any verse. It also lets you search for keywords. Best of all, you have plenty of Bibles to choose from (I’m currently using the Tagalog Bible, but I also have the Modern King James version).
One of the few gripes I have with my phone was the presence of a joystick which was usually unresponsive in certain directions (at worst, only the Up direction works). For the record, I can still do most tasks using the keypad, including texting, and launching and using most programs. However, there are really some things that only a joystick can handle, such as setting options or dialog boxes. MyMobiler solves the problem by letting you control the smartphone from the computer. Also, MyMobiler lets you capture screenshots from your phone. All of the screenshots in this post were taken using MyMobiler.
MS doesn’t have a program UI, but when you install this program, it lets you run .mscr files which lets the phone do something. You can create your own scripts by writing the code from any text editor, then saving the file with the .mscr extension. Then to execute the script, all you have to do is launch the file as if it was a program. However, if you don’t have the programming skills, XDA-Developers have plenty of preprogrammed codes for various tasks.
This program is a scheduler, and you can create schedules on a time or day basis, or both. For instance, you can schedule the phone to turn off or reboot at 11pm daily, or activate flight mode so that you won’t be bothered by any form of communications. You can even run programs and scripts, for instance to free memory, open a media player or send a txtmsg.
This program is the evolution of Torch, but with additional modes. You have five backlight colors to choose from: white, red, blue, green and RGB (combination); and three modes: activate from keypress, blinking mode (it’s fun with red) and continuous (in RGB, the three colors alternate in brief intervals).
This isn’t exactly a program, it’s more of an enhancement. Based on the technology created by SRS Labs, this program enhances the sound output of the phone using only software, without the need for hardware upgrade.
That’s just the free ones. Watch out for the premium apps later.