Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Here's the weekly summary of a mix of Windows Mobile and general mobile tech related items from my personal blog.

What are the Must Have Applications on Your Smartphone?
One of the major dings people have been leveling against the unreleased Apple iPhone is Apple's unwillingness to allow 3rd party applications to be installed on it. So, what are the must-have applications on your Smartphone? And, would you be willing to go to another platform if it or something like it is not available?

Here's the list of my must-have Windows Mobile Smartphone applications:

DeveloperOne Agenda One - Agenda One adds a layer on top of Microsoft's Calendar. Microsoft's Calendar views are basically information-free beyond the single day view. Agenda One gives life to week and month views but intelligently displaying event information in a useful way on a small screen. It similarly adds a much needed data entry layer to entering new appointments by using a much better entry method than Microsoft provides.

Ilium Software eWallet - We've all got way too many passwords. And, if you work in an enterprise environment, yours probably changes on a regular basis by policy. eWallet eliminates the need for the giant security hole of writing passwords on a yellow sticky note paper.

Ilium Software NewsBreak - I'm still stuck on an EDGE network. Viewing web pages using Internet Explorer on a Smartphone is ok, but sluggish. And, many sites do not display in a readable fashion in the browser. Pre-loading lots of RSS feeds makes reading through a lot of information very fast. I have a couple of dozen feeds on my phone. NewsBreak usually takes about 3 to 4 minutes to refresh everything. Then, reading through the various individual feed items is very fast.

Microsoft Pocket Streets - Microsoft discontinued Pocket Streets. So, I need to find an alternative I can live with someday. Although it never had nearly as many features as the 3rd party GPS mapping software, it was nice to have simple maps. And creating custom area maps using Streets & Trips or MapPoint was very simple to do. Too bad it is gone.

HTC's Smartphone Guide
HTC seems produce most of the cool Windows Mobile phones on the market. Unfortunately, they also seem to have a bazillion code names for their models and I can never remember any of them. If you have a problem following the phone buzz in various news sites and forums, this HTC sponsored wiki page may help you out.

HTC Community Wiki Smartphone Guides

It has photos, code names, and released product names for each of their products.

Smartphone Tip: Anything That Looks Like a Phone Number is Dial-able
Here's a tip for Microsoft Windows Mobile Smartphone users...

Go to Microsoft Outlook on your desktop and create a calendar appointment or task. Now type a mix of text and phone numbers in a note field. Just type them in as you might any note to yourself. Then, sync your Smartphone with the PC using ActiveSync.

Take a look at the phone numbers in the note field of the Calendar or Task event you created. They should be colored blue and underlined. Use your navigation pad to move the screen focus to one of the numbers then press return. Your phone should start dialing that number.

It turns out that Windows Mobile Smartphones assume any number grouping that resembles a phone number is in fact a phone number and makes it dialable by focusing on it and selecting it. This is incredibly useful for quickly entering a group (say for a business meeting, lunch with friends, or a parents' meeting) where you might want to call a group of people quickly. Just store the names and numbers in a notes field somewhere and move the focus and dial each number as needed.

Unfortunately, this feature is not available for Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition devices.

Spb Club Launched This Week
If you use a Windows Mobile Pocket PC, you might want to consider heading over to the recently launched...

Spb Club

This online destination is produced by Spb Software House which created and sells numerous Pocket PC and Smartphone applications. One of my must-have Pocket PC apps is Spb Backup. But, more on that tomorrow when I rant a bit about backup assumptions for the Pocket PC.

Joining this free online site gives you access to free Pocket PC ring tones, free Pocket PC themes, and access to support for Spb Windows Mobile products.

Why Did Microsoft Remove Backup/Restore from ActiveSync?
One of the innovations that came with Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 for Pocket PC users was non-volitile flash RAM and the storage of key Windows Mobile databases in this RAM. This meant that both Pocket PC users would no longer lose their contacts and calendars when a battery died. Since Microsoft presumed that Pocket PC users would no longer need to restore their system from a hard disk through ActiveSync, they removed the Backup and Restore function for Pocket PCs in ActiveSync!

IMHO, this was a truly bad idea. Let's say you lose or badly damage your Pocket PC (or Smartphone for that matter since it was never able to Backup/Restore over ActiveSync since it always had non-volitile flash RAM for PIM data). You go ahead and get an identical new Pocket PC. You know have to rebuild the Pocket PC from scratch. Sure, ActiveSync will repartner with it and flow data from Outlook. But, you have to reinstall your applications, rebuild email definitions for Messaging (Inbox), type in your name, etc., etc. In other words, you end up wasting an hour or more rebuilding your setup. This is something that ActiveSync Restore could have handled mostly unattended in much less time and hassle.

Manufacturers didn't help matters much either. Prior to Windows Mobile 5, many Pocket PCs came with manufacturer supplied backup-to-storage-card utilities. These utilities archived your system RAM contents to a storage card in a single file. This file could be easily copied to your hard drive and further archived on a CD-R, thumb drive, or network store. But, many WM5 Pocket PCs don't have these add-on utilities in firmware.

So, now what? Fortunately, there are other people who, like me, believe that a simple single file archival backup is a good idea. I use Spb Backup from Sbp Software House on my i-Mate K-JAM Pocket PC Phone Edition. It's simple, fast, and has a notification area on my Start window to let me know when I last performed a backup.


UK Cell Phone Reviews
2008-04-27 08:13:43
I find Resco's File Explorer another must have for windows mobile users. The built in file explorer just doesn't cut it.