Get the iPhone’s Features Without an iPhone

1 07 2007

Apple made headlines this weekend with its launch of the iPhone. I applaud Apple for pioneering a new design and user-interface, however feature-wise the iPhone is similar to a Motorola RAZR that debuted two years ago. For those of you who want to get the software on an iPhone without purchasing an iPhone, check out this list:

1. Maps

You don’t need Apple’s Google Maps software to get driving directions to a nearby pizza parlor. If you have a Java enabled phone (almost all phone’s nowadays do) check out my review of Google Maps for Mobiles. It has the same features, minus the multi-touch. Point your web-browser to http://www.google.com/gmm for the goods.

2. YouTube

YouTube is exclusive to the Apple iPhone? I think not. Point your mobile web-browser to http://m.youtube.com and watch your favorite videos straight from your phone. YouTube dishes out the video content in a special format (3GP) that your phone will be able to stream over the net.

3. Calendar

The good guys at Google have done it again, point your mobile web-browser to http://mobile.google.com/calendar and organize your life. If you have a Windows Mobile device check out my article on GooSync to wirelessly synchronize GCal with the built in Outlook calendar app.

4. Photos

Most camera phones have some built-in software to let you view them, so I won’t go into any additional photo software. But if you want to upload and view photos online in an album point your mobile web-browser to http://picasaweb.google.com/m.

5. Safari

Apple claims that Safari is the best mobile web-browser because it displays the web the way it should be. Check out my review on Opera Mini 4 which has the exact same features. Opera Mini 4 runs on any Java enabled phone. Visit http://www.operamini.com/download/ and grab the goodness.

6. Mail

Apple says they offer free POP mail access for all iPhone users. This is nice, and the ability to check your e-mail is a must for many people, but you can do this with GMail on your mobile phone. Point your web-browser to http://gmail.com/app
and download the Java program that lets you check your e-mail. You don’t use Google but another type of POP e-mail account? Great – Google lets you POP other e-mail accounts as well so no sweat, you’re covered.

7. Weather

I guess this is a little bit of a stretch, but if you need your phone to tell you what the weather is outside you need to get out more. If you really want to get the weather, you can always text Google (466453) with the query “weather <insert zipcode or city here>” and Google will text you back with the forecast results for the day. Its not as intuitive as I would like it to be, but hey it gets the job done.

If you don’t want to take the SMS route, take a visit to http://m.yahoo.com, Yahoo’s mobile webpage, and configure your start page to include a weather forecast.

7. Voicemail

Visual Voicemail is a great feature to have, but again is not exclusive to an iPhone. The engineers are CallWave have a product that lets you visually choose your voicemails, but it doesn’t stop there, you can even receive voicemails as text messages. This may not be free in the future however, but in the words of Robert Heinlein, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

8. Stocks

Yahoo’s mobile start page is very informative. Visit http://m.yahoo.com and setup the quotes that you want to track. You can also take the SMS route that Google provides by texting 466453 and entering “stock <insert symbol here>.”

As a consumer I look past marketing hype, I hope these tips help you get the most out of today’s technology.

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Skweezer.net – Fit The Web on Your Phone

15 06 2007

Mobile web-browsing is pathetic. Period. Websites are designed to be seen on regular computer screens and the mobile market lacks software that will re-render webpages to fit on the screen of your phone or PDA. A co-worker recently introduced me to skweezer.net. Skweezer is a portal that lets you view the web nicely on your phone. You give them a URL you want to browse, they format the page on their server and give you back a nice webpage that is readable on your mobile screen. The idea of no horizontal scrollbars makes me jump for joy, and the fact skweezer is a free web-service makes it an ideal solution for me.

 

I like to make skweezer my homepage so whenever I’m on the go, I can easily access the sites I need. Did I mention skweezer strips out content that can’t be rendered on mobile devices? That means faster page loads my friends.

UPDATE:

For a list of mobile web-browser software reviews check out this post from fellow blogger Mohammad.

 





Google Maps For Your Mobile Phone

5 06 2007

Google has released a new verson of its maps software for mobile devices. It now includes GPS (if you have an external, or built into your chipset), as well as real-time traffic data. Now when you’re on the go and can’t decide which pizza joint you want to eat at, Mobile Google Maps will tell you which routes are crowded along with multiple options so you and your buddies can fight over where to eat.

What more could you ask for? Maps, directions, gps, real-time traffic data, and a business directory all on your phone. Users beware: do not use this application while driving.

Download:

http://www.google.com/gmm/GoogleMaps.CAB

Windows Mobile Users – just download and install the CAB. It should show up under Programs. For non-WM  users, Google offers the software as a midlet, so if you’re device is Java ready check out http://mobile.google.com





WM5 Tip – Backup your Voice Contacts

31 05 2007

If you’ve ever had to reflash your phone, restoring your contacts, e-mail and calendar is easy if you regularly sync between your computer and mobile device. I like to use the built in Cyberon Voice Commander (comes standard on most WM5 phones) to dial my contacts by speaking their name. Unfortunately ActiveSync does not back up the data file that contains all of those names you’ve recorded. Re-recording your contacts can be a real drag, but if you backup your Voice Commander file you might save yourself some major headache.

1. Fire up ActiveSync and locate \Windows\CommandModel1.bin

2. Save it on your hard-drive and if you ever need to restore your voice contacts, just drop the file back into \Windows\

Your voice contacts are associated with your Contacts List, so if you’ve deleted a contact your voice contact might still exist. It’s always a good practice to backup your data. If there is one thing I can’t stress enough its just that!





GooSync – Wireless Calendar Syncing for Windows Mobile 5

30 05 2007

There is no excuse to use wires to sync your phone this day in age. Being mobile to me means to be completely wireless. Microsoft still hasn’t included an option in ActiveSync to synchronize over wi-fi. I’ve resorted to using GooSync to wirelessly synchronize my Google Calendar with Pocket Outlook. Here is how it works:

 

1. Get a Google Account

If you don’t have a Google account already sign up for one at http://www.gmail.com

2. Register for a free GooSync Account

Visit http://www.goosync.com and sign up for a free account. The advanced account lets you sync between multiple calendars, and allows you to sync up to 365 days in advance. One limitation of the free account is that you can only sync events that are 3 weeks in advance.

GooSync will require you to give them access to your calendar in order for you to be able to sync. Rest assured, they have a legitimate and fair privacy policy. You can unsubscribe from their service at any time. I did the first time I signed up because I was worried about my privacy. The folks at GooSync promptly terminated my account. At any time you can revoke GooSync’s access to your calendar by visiting http://www.google.com/accounts and changing your Authorized Websites preferences. After hearing about great service from a friend, I decided to sign back up and I have had no problems.

3. Install GooSync on your Phone
After successfully registering for GooSync, they will e-mail you link where you can download the application and install it on your phone

4. Run and Sync!

Just click the two-way arrow and syncing between your Google Calendar and your Pocket Outlook is a breeze.

The beauty of GooSync is that it supports two-way syncing. I can create a calendar item on the fly on my phone and have it automatically sync with my Google Calendar (vice-versa). This is a great alternative if you don’t want to pay for a push account, or are simply tired of having to bring out your USB cable just to sync.

Note: GooSync is not only for Windows Mobile devices. Symbian, PalmOS and other operating systems are supported as well. For the full list check out http://www.goosync.com/SupportedDevices.aspx





Enabling A2DP on Windows Mobile 5 Phones

25 05 2007

This post is now available at my new blog The IT Report:

http://theitreport.com/entries/gadgets/enabling-a2dp-on-windows-mobile-5