Smartphone Apps for the Rest of Us

Information Week has an interesting little article on their website about how non-iPhone users can obtain new software for their smartphones.

“Sure, iPhone users have access to the iPhone Apps Store, but where are the rest of us supposed to get great content for our cell phones? Turns out, all over the place.

Long before the iPhone Apps Store was a gleam in Steve Jobs’ eye, each major wireless network operator offered up numerous third-party applications to their customers through a variety of storefronts.

The carriers have their own developer programs, application testing procedures, and delivery systems to get apps into the hands of users. InformationWeek took the time to speak to the carriers and get the scoop on how you can find games, music, and location-based services applications for your phone. “

Keep reading Smartphone Apps for the Rest of Us

Other Sources of Software

While you can go through your wireless carrier’s portal for software, there are even more places you can go for software.

Palm Software Connection… (Palm OS, Windows Mobile)
PalmGear… (Palm OS)
PocketGear… (Windows Mobile, BlackBerry)
Handmark… (Palm OS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, iPhone)
Handango
… (Palm OS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian OS, Android)
MobiHand… (Palm OS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian OS, iPhone, Android)

Don’t forget the vendors! Many software developers sell their software directly from their own websites. If you really like a vendor’s software, buying it directly from a vendor’s website ensures that they get the most compensation for their work.

UPDATE:
An anonymous Smartphone Fanatics reader has pointed out another great source for mobile software, MobiHand.com.

Live Mesh: Here, there, Nowhere…

Earlier today WMExperts.com was reporting that Microsoft had released Live Mesh for Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1-powered devices along with a Mac OS X client (whoa!!).

However, I received a much different picture when I went to the Microsoft Live Mesh blog. It seems that after the rollout, Microsoft discovered a bug with the installation process, prompting the company to post a warning about attempting to install the software.

“Since rolling out the latest Live Mesh release this afternoon, a number of customers have reported trouble installing the Live Mesh for Mobile software. We have identified the problem and are currently working on a new build. We don’t yet have an estimated time of availability, but we will post updates here, on the blog, as we know more.

In the meantime, please do not try to install the Live Mesh for Mobile software on your mobile phone because installation will fail in most cases.

Thank you for your patience as we work to get this issue resolved quickly.”

Visit the Live Mesh blog for updates

Rumor: Microsoft Working on Windows Mobile 6.5

Brighthand’s Adama Brown has an interesting article posted on the mobile computing website. Mr. Brown’s article reads, in part:

“The interview focused on the news that Motorola would be dropping both Symbian and its in-house Linux/Java platform in order to focus on devices running Android and Windows Mobile (read more). While commenting on the user experience aspect of smartphones, Jha noted that:

“Windows Mobile 6 has not delivered the experience that I think Apple has been able to deliver, but as you look at the plan that is Windows Mobile 7 and even 6.5, I think there are significant new added features which will help the platform.”

This reference to an upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 is the first such information about its existence made available to the public. Previously the next known upgrade to Microsoft’s mobile platform was Windows Mobile 7, a major overhaul which was has been repeatedly delayed, most recently until the second half of 2009.”

Read the full article on Brighthand.com

Potential Upgrades

Unlike desktop operating system upgrades from Microsoft, or even Apple, smartphone operating systems need to be tweaked for the hardware it will run on. Because of that fact, we won’t be able to obtain any upgrade directly from Microsoft. Rather, mobile device manufacturers like Motorola and Palm will need to obtain the software, modify the code, and then have the new software stack certified by each wireless carrier who will carry the upgraded phone.

Long story short, don’t expect every Windows Mobile 6.0 or 6.1 device to get an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.5.

G1 and Removable Storage

I was just reading an article by Brighthand’s Editor-in-Chief, Ed Hardy, that says the new T-Mobile G1 handset powered by Google’s Android operating system can only use a memory card for additional storage.

Mr. Hardy writes:

“The first Android-based smartphone debuted this week, and users have discovered what many will consider a significant flaw: all applications have to be stored in internal memory.

This means that all third-party software has to fit in the 70 MB of internal storage that the T-Mobile G1 has set aside for this. The device comes with a 1 GB removable memory card, and it supports at least 16 GB ones, but none of that storage capacity can be used for holding applications.

The storage card is used only for holding files, like music and video.”

Personally, I welcome the Android users into to the proverbial swimming pool. Palm OS users also have to wrestle with this issue. I do hope that Palm OS customers get some relieve in 2009 when Palm is scheduled to release the successor to Palm OS 5, Palm OS II/Nova. I would also like to see Google roll out an update to Android that adds the ability to run apps of a card in the near future.

Read the full Brighthand article

BlackBerry Bold Headed for AT&T on Nov 4th

In a press release issued earlier today, Research In Motion announced that the new BlackBerry Bold will be launching on AT&T’s 3G wireless network on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.

“The BlackBerry Bold smartphone’s design and performance live up to its name. The elegant smartphone features a lustrous black exterior, satin chrome-finished frame and stylish, leatherette backplate with a stunning half-VGA (480 x 320 at 217 ppi) color display for eye-popping visuals and a newly designed full QWERTY keyboard for exceptionally fast and easy typing. On the inside, the BlackBerry Bold features built-in GPS and Wi-Fi®, a powerful new 624 MHz mobile processor that provides impressive performance, more storage memory than ever before — 1 GB on board and up to 16 GB via its microSD/SDHC expansion slot — and a rich set of multimedia capabilities, including an advanced media player for music, videos and photos and a 2 megapixel camera with built-in flash, zoom and video recording, as well as an optimized Web-browsing experience with desktop-style depiction.”

“The BlackBerry Bold is the best BlackBerry smartphone ever, backed by the nation’s fastest 3G network and the hands-down best international coverage of any carrier,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility. “The BlackBerry Bold is the complete package, providing customers with an absolutely outstanding mobile experience whether doing e-mail, browsing the Web, viewing streaming video or simply making a phone call. And it is being introduced in the U.S. only from AT&T.”

The new BlackBerry Bold will sell for $299 with a qualifying 2-year service agreement that includes voice and data.

Read the full RIM press release

I have to say that I’m really interested in the BlackBerry Curve, and what can only be it’s successor, the Bold. What I like most about them is the hardware keyboard and the navigation ball on the face of the device. Being a long time Palm Treo customer, I really rely on having that hardware Qwerty keyboard. I just can’t seem to get used to the soft keyboard that has been implemented on Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch. I’m all about the keyboard.

The other feature that I really like is the placement of the trackball. With the older BlackBerry devices that I’ve used, I really hated the fact that the scroll wheel was always on the right side of the device with me being left handed.

Gizmodo: T-Mobile G1 Software Update Hits Tomorrow

GadgetsOnTheGo has a link to an article on Gizmodo that T-Mobile and Google are rolling out the first update for the G1 tomorrow. Man that was fast!

Gizmodo is reporting that T-Mobile will be releasing the first software update for the T-Mobile G1 tomorrow. It will be sent to all G1 devices over the air. The update is expected to be minor, addressing some bug fixes and light “enhancements”.”

Get all the details on the G1 goodness here…

Via GadgetsOnTheGo.net

Dell Inspiron 910

Ok, so we all know that I’ve spent waaaay too much time obsessing over the Foleo. I can admit that. But today I ordered the device that I hope can replace my desire to have a Foleo, the Dell Inspiron 910; aka the “mini 9”.

So that is the good news. The bad news is that because the ultra-light/UMPC market is so hot right now, the expected ship date for my black Dell mini 9 isn’t until 11/19/08!!

I’ll keep you posted.

T-Mobile G1 Specs

Hardware

  • Size: 4.6 x 2.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Included battery: 1150 mAh Lion
  • Talk time: up to 5 hours
  • Standby time: up to 5 days
  • Band (frequency): 850 MHz;900 MHz;1800 MHz;1900 MHz

Fun

  • Easy access to Google applications
  • IM/Text/Email*
  • 3MP Camera
  • Video playback

Communication

  • Touch Screen
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • Bluetooth® wireless technology

Information

  • One-click Google Search
  • Real web browsing capabilities
  • 3G Network and Wi-Fi access

The full list of features can be found here.

The G1 will go for $179 with a new two-year service agreement.

Palm Centro Reivew

I was working with my sister’s Centro today, and the following is a review of the white hot selling consumer-oriented Palm smartphone. I use a Palm Treo 755p and Treo 750 and will be comparing the Centro with those two devices.

Operating System

The Centro runs Palm’s Palm OS operating system, version 5.4.9; which is the same version that Palm is using in the latest Palm OS Treo, the 755p. The Centro that I am working with has already been upgraded to the latest software maintenance release, 1.07, which can be downloaded from the Palm website as a free download.

Because the Centro runs Palm OS, you can run the thousands of existing Palm OS application that are available today. If you are upgrading from a Palm OS Tungsten or Zire PDA, your transition to the Centro should be a smooth one. If you have an older Palm OS PDA, the transition to the Centro is possible, however, I encourage anyone who has installed third-party application software to upgrade to the latest release before doing so to make sure that all of your software is compatible with Palm OS 5.

The Hardware

The Cento is smaller than previous Palm smartphones. Althought the size difference is not dramatic, the rounded edges of the Cento make it seem smaller when you are holding it in your hand. Slipping it into and out of the front pocket of a pair of jeans will be ease.

Unlike the Treo 750 and 755p, the original model Centro smartphones do not have the rubberized soft-touch paint. In my opinion, this is one of the few negatives of the Centro. I really like the soft-touch paint as it helps me keep a firm grasp on the device while I am using it. Starting with the newest Sprint Centro models, olive green and vibrant rose, Palm has returned to using the soft-touch paint.

As with previous smartphones, the Centro also includes a full Qwerty keyboard. The keys on the Centro are smaller than those on the Treo, however, the jelly style key caps make it easy for people to type on the keyboard, even if you are used to the Treo’s keyboard or if you have big mits like me.

Nesseled in between the bright touch-screen and the keyboard are the standard hardware buttons Palm’s customers have come to expect: Phone, Calendar, Home, Email, Call Send/Recevie (the green button) and Call End/Power (the red button). The center button, which is used to navigrate around the screen and select objects, is right in the center of the device and easily accessible with your thumb. Along the top of the device is the ringer switch for silencing your phone quickly; a feature I wished more people would us during meetings.

Rounding out the hardware features of the Centro is the digital camera on the back of the device mounted along side of the speaker. The 2.5mm headset jack, sync and power ports can be found on the bottom edge. An IR port has been placed on the right side of the body, and on the left are the volume up and down buttons and the Voice Memo button.

Each of the application hardware buttons can be reprogammed by using the Buttons control panel which is found in the Prefs application. (Press Home, and then tap or select the Prefs application in the Palm OS Application launcher.)

The Centro does come with a stylus, but I’m not excited about it. The stylus is an anemic piece of brittle plastic that feels like it will break if I hold it too hard. The bottom third of the Treo 750 and 755p is metal, but I long for the days of the Treo 650 and 700p when the stylus was mostly metal.

The Centro uses a 1150mAh battery that held up well while I was using it. (I had the device for about 90 minutes.) During that time, I was constantly checking email, downloading software updates, and browsing the web. If you plan on using all of the phone’s features (phone calls, email, organizer applicaitons, and Office documents) you will likely need to charge the phone up everynight. Casual users, who don’t talk on the phone alot will be able to get a few days out a single charge. Milage will vary.

The Centro also has a microSD card slot, which unlike the Treo 750 and 755p, is only accessable by removing the battery compartment door. This won’t be a problem for most Centro owners unless they have multiple expansion cards that you need to swap in an out.

The Software

Centro comes with all of the software you would expect to find on a $99 phone and then some. I was really happy to see that Palm was including all of their standard Treo software on the Centro. In addition to Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Memos, standard fare for a feature flip phone, the Centro also includes a web browser (Blazer 4.5.8), an email application (VersaMail 4.0.1) and the ability to read/write Microsoft Office files (DataViz Documents To Go 10.0 Professional). From a software perspective, there isn’t anything a Centro can’t do that a Treo 755p can. When you buy a Centro, you are buying a full featured smartphone compared with the other devices in the Centro’s price range ($79 – $149).

Pricing, Colors

The Centro, available from Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and unlocked, typically sells for $79 – $99. However, deep discounts and mail-in rebates either from Palm or your wireless carrier, and with a new 2-year service agreement can bring the price of the Centro down much lower.

As indicated earlier, the Centro does come in a variety of colors, however, not all of the colors are available to all of the wireless carriers. The Sprint edition Centro I was able to use was ruby red. Centro is also available in cobalt blue, electric blue, obsidian black, glacial white, olive green, vibrant rose, and pink.

Conclusion

The Centro is a full featured smartphone that isn’t hard on your checkbook. It is a great phone to upgrade to from a feature phone if you are looking for a better web, email, and text messaging experience. The call quality is good as was the signal strength in my neighborhood.

There are some aspects of the hardware that I would have changed, however, I don’t think that they are reason enough to pass up on this phone. The inclusion of the full install of the Palm OS means, and all of Palm’s bundled productivty and entertainment software, gives you the same functionality as Apple’s iPhone without the added cost.

For more details on Palm’s wildly popular Centro smartphone, visit Palm’s Cenro website.

Palm Backup Program Ending

The Palm Backup beta program for Palm OS smartphones is coming to an end on January 16, 2009.

In an email to current beta testers, Palm writes:

“Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for your participation in the Palm Backup Beta program. Palm is discontinuing this service on January 16, 2009. After this date, the beta will be closed and the data you have stored
through this service will be purged and no longer accessible. We want you to have a smooth transition. Please remove the Backup Beta application from your Palm device.

For information on how to delete an application, please visit:
http://News.palmnewsletters.com/cgi-bin13/DM/y/eyS50PN8Gp0J130qsJ0CJ

If you need more information and support visit:
http://News.palmnewsletters.com/cgi-bin13/DM/y/eyS50PN8Gp0J130qsH0CH

We look forward to providing you with mobile computing products and
services.

Sincerely,
The Palm Team”

Palm customers who where partcipating in the beta should check the mail address they used to register with for additional details.

Even with the Palm Backup beta closing, there are still back up applications for your favorite Palm device.

Customers who use a Palm OS device (PDA or smartphone) that has NVFS memory, including the Palm Tungsten E2 and T5, the Palm TX, the Palm Treo 650/700p/755p, and the Centro can download the freely available NVBackup by Alex Pruss. Resco Backup is another great commercal backup application. Windows Mobile Treo users can use Sprite Backup, which can be installed from their Palm software CD and can upgrade to the latest version directly from Sprite’s website.