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Essential Windows Mobile Software For My New T-Mobile Dash 3G

As I set up my new phone, I am keeping track of the configuration changes I’m making and the software I’m adding.

GPS Navigation

garminGarmin Mobile XT ($99 from Garmin, cheaper elsewhere) — I used this for several years on my Wing and found it to be a very competent navigation program. I’ve used it locally a great deal, as well as using it to navigate from Boston to Ohio and on various trips to California, Florida, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania. Garmin Mobile XT ships on its own micro SD card.

Because Garmin ships on its own micro SD card, it really precludes you from using your own high capacity card, which is ultra critical on phones with no memory like the Wing. It also means that on phones where the micro SD slot is not easily accessible, switching the cards is a royal pain. I understand Garmin’s anti-piracy motivations, but the solution is horrible. They could at least sell the program on a 4 GB card so it would come with extra space, but they don’t. So, I followed the instructions at http://forums.wireless.att.com/cng/board/message?board.id=samsung&thread.id=54245 and it worked like a charm — my software now runs on the 4 GB SanDisk card permanently in my phone.

Google Maps (free download — go to http://m.google.com/maps on your phone) — A great program for walking around a city and finding stores, restaurants, etc. A version ships along with the stock T-Mobile ROM, but be sure and upgrade if you want to use the latest features. mobile_logo The current version incorporates Google Latitude, a free service that broadcasts your position on the map to your friends and vice-versa. While this may be a little creepy if the settings allow broadcast to the public, when you’re on foot and trying to meet a friend and one or both of you isn’t familiar with street names, it’s really handy. As far as finding destinations, many people prefer Windows Live Search. I’m kind of partial to Windows Live myself, but I keep Google installed for Latitude.

gpsedGPSed (Free download – $9.99 for premium version) — This is a new category and something that I’m setting up for my wife. In addition to Garmin’s excellent navigation program, sometimes you just want to record where you’ve been. GPSed is the program for that. The program sits on your phone and logs GPS coordinates as you travel. You can set waypoints so you can add photos (geotagging) them later. What makes this client cool is that it integrates with popular social networking sites (like Facebook) and can upload “live” updates at different intervals so people can track your progress. Of course this requires a data connection so it isn’t going to chart your progress through the Amazon rainforest, but it’s still pretty cool. The GPSed site itself integrates with Google maps and Earth and is a pretty good sharing site in its own right.

Web Browsing

skyfireSkyfire (Free download) — The browser on Windows Mobile 6.1 sucks. Particularly the T-Mobile implementation of it with the “web2go” default homepage. (The 6.1 version is way better than the 6.0 version, but still lacking.) That leaves two alternatives: Opera and Skyfire. Opera is the king of the mobile browser, and I used Opera on my Wing and previous Blackberries for years. But Skyfire is now the best in my opinion. Skyfire is free. Opera isn’t. Skyfire defaults to a desktop browsing experience with the ability to zoom (like the Safari browser on the iPhone), Opera doesn’t. Decision made. Skyfire rocks.

Screen Capture

ilium_logoIlium Screen Capture (Free Download) — I use my phone for both work and personal use. Some of the projects I am responsible for at work integrate SMS messaging into medical settings. So I am often setting up different messaging schemes and testing them on my own phone. The results often need to be turned into some kind of document or manual. So screen captures from my mobile are critical. Ilium fits the bill perfectly, and at the right price. It’s simple and it works.

Taskbar Modification

The stock Windows Mobile taskbar stinks. The very first change I wanted was a better battery indicator that told me how much charge was left with better precision that the stock 4 sshot002[1]bars. This can be accomplished by a registry hack, but I simply installed the files shown in this post from XDA-Developers and got the actual battery percentage. (See the screenshot in my Dash 3G post.)

I really wanted colored icons for the battery, but finding a taskbar designed for QVGA resolution and GSM is tough. Most are CDMA and so don’t have the EDGE/3G icons, but rather the CDMA/EVDO icons. So I next tried the FInixNOver taskbar at http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=424926, but it is a VGA set and the battery display doesn’t fit (the % reading is unlegible at the top of the screen as seen in this screenshot). But honestly, I hate the stock taskbar so much that I’d rather have the colored battery symbol with the smushed test than the stock one. But I will remain on the lookout for a QVGA/GSM set of decent icons. If anyone knows of a set … please leave a comment.

Facebookfacebook

Facebook for Windows Mobile 6 (Free download from Microsoft) — For at least a year, Windows Mobile was the orphan of the facebook world. Blackberry users had a dedicated application, so did iPhone users. Windows Mobile users were left with the m.facebook.com web page, which is lacking in features like uploading photos. There were a couple of others that came and went — products of well meaning developers who just didn’t have the time to get them quite right or to keep supporting them. But finally Microsoft of all people have stepped in to fill the void. They apparently decided to include a Facebook app in the Windows Mobile 6.5 release, and finally got around to unbundling it and releasing it for the rest of the Windows Mobile 6 family. Works great — makes me happy.

System Maintenance

total_commander
Total Commander (Free download) — If you want to do anything with your phone beyond installing simple stuff, you are going to need to manipulate system files and change registry entries. For thesetasks, nothing is more highly regarded than Total Commander.

GMail/Google Apps Calendar Management

OggSync Pro oggsync(Free basic version limited to 1 calendar; $29.99 annual subscription for Pro version with unlimited accounts and contact sync) — Many people share their smartphone for work and personal use. I like to keep my appointments separate as well, but remain aware of work or personal commitments when trying to schedule things. Like many people, I keep work stuff on my Outlook account at work (which syncs via Outlook Web Access (OWA) in Windows Mobile) and my personal stuff on my Google Apps calendars hosted on my own domain. Google has released new sync features that allows Windows Mobile to sync calendars live, but it uses a form of OWA and a current limitation of Windows Mobile is that it can handle only one such connection at a time. Thus users like me who use OWA for work have no way of syncing our Google calendars to our devices. Enter OggSync. It’s a little complex to use sometimes and it seems like the company’s support is fading (I think the Google sync feature ate a lot of their business) but for many of us with both business and personal accounts on our phones, it’s the only thing that works.

Games

kevtrisKevtris (free download) — One of many Tetris clones, this version is optimized for QVGA screens. It has several different game variations which offer enough variety and challenge to help you while away long plane flights or time in the DMV line.

Music

logo_pandoraPandora (free download — should be able to get by pointing mobile browser to www.pandora.com, but CABs also available on the XDA-Developers Maple forums. Here’s the CAB I used: Pandora_wm6 ) — I’ve never been one to really get worked up over the one-device-does-it-all idea. I don’t mind carrying around my iPod and my phone and my PSP at the same time. But I have to admit, getting Pandora on my mobile phone could be the game-changer for me; it’s the killer app for 3G in my mind. If you’re not familiar, Pandora is internet radio produced by something called the Music Genome Project (read about it …). The Music Genome Project takes literally hundreds of thousands of songs by all kinds of artisis and assigns attributes to them based on how they are constructed. This allows the Project to easily find related songs or songs of a similar style. The premise behind Pandora is to choose a favorite artist or song, and then the system automatically feeds you other songs or artists related by style. As you give each suggestion the thumbs-up or down, the system learns your preferences and the selections get better and better. If you like music, this is an incredible way to discover new songs or artists. And it’s free … Pandora works remarkably well on my Dash 3G — even when I occasionally switch to EDGE speeds. If you like music, you definitely need to try it.

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