If you followed my previous post about making the most of the Windows Mobile experience, your Windows Mobile phone should already have a slicker interface, seem faster, have new features, be touch friendly as well as feel much more intuitive all around. Needless to say that was the vital first step to getting your money’s worth out of your phone. You might have a setup like this now:
Nifty, no? Well, it’s a good start, but the next stage is getting the applications that allow you to use it To The Max ™. Let’s see what we can recommend.
A good browser. No, a Great browser.
We’re talkin’ powerful, fast, slick web browsin’ here. That nonsense that calls itself Internet Explorer doesn’t deserve a place on your device. Whether or not you’re often surfing the interwebs, ensuring that your web experience is a smooth one will make the difference whether you decide to whip out your phone and wiki something up, or simply say it’s a lost cause. You want a proper browser, one with kinetic scrolling, tabs, and a good rendering engine.
Enter Opera Mobile and Skyfire. Both, as you might’ve guessed by now, are Windows Mobile web browsers. They are also the two best of them all. Opera Mobile is in general more well known and boasts an impressive list of features – tabs, kinetic scrolling, download manager, accelerated page caching (turbo), data synchronisation and cloud computing setups, and even widgets. This does put it on the heavier side of the browser market, with it’s installation file itself a hefty 10MB. On older phones it might take some time to start up and can run out of memory pretty quick. However if your hardware meets the specs, you’ve got yourself a very powerful tool.
The other is a lesser known product – Skyfire. This is definitely slimmer feature-wise but loads pages quick and doesn’t eat up your phone. It’s got the zoom, the drag-scrolling … but most importantly this one displays pages identical to a desktop view whereas Opera tends to wrap text (handy in some cases, not so in others). It also deals with embeddable content very well, allowing you to enjoy flash video without lag pretty easily. It also comes with a nifty start-page which is basically a feed reader – giving you snapshots of the latest news which you can tweak to your interests.
Apps for music and videos
Windows Mobile comes bundled with Windows Media Player, which can play some common files but chokes on anything else you might want.
Here we have a few nominees, including the must-have Core Media Player. The Core Media Player began as freeware but now is available as a paid application. There’s no problem with getting the older free version, it’s still extremely good and will handle almost any codec you throw at it.
Those enjoying the iPhone feel might look towards S2P, a music player that copies the iPhone music player almost completely, not to mention integrates rather nicely with S2U, an application which locks your phone like the iPhone does. It’s also well supported on several home screen media player control applications.
If you’re a multi tasker, it’s normally a huge convenience if you have a way to pause/play, next and previous songs right from the homescreen. In Windows 6.5.1 this is possible with the Titanium layout which integrates with the default Windows Media Player, allowing you to scroll between songs. If not using WMP or not on 6.5.1 this functionality is also available with several shells, including SPB Mobile Shell 3.
The ultimate penknife of utilities
If you’re going to actually use your phone, you need a way to keep it ship shape and mess around when you feel like it. Without delaying further I’m going to introduce you to Total Commander, a file manager (and registry editor, if you’re into that sort of thing) that should exist on every device.
Another would undoubtedly be cleanRAM by htcAddicts.com. It does exactly what it name says – it cleans up lost RAM and can make your device speed up a tad bit after a few days of use – say goodbye to having to soft reset or restart your device whenever it gets too laggy!
Advanced Config (pictured above) makes it easy to tweak your OS to your liking. From which softkeys do what, the layout of your dialer and comm manager, what effects are enabled… it’s all there and you’ll find perhaps one of those little things that don’t look like much but mean much.
A way to read those RSS feeds
People on the go should really take advantage of RSS feeds. Most computer users still remain ignorant of this wonder and it’s time for that to stop. For the uninitiated RSS feeds take the news away from the website and thus allow you to keep track of many news sources at your leisure – be it following the BBC, your favourite blogs, or even the latest Garfield comic. It’s your own personal newspaper that’s updated realtime and only contains articles you’re interested in.
It’s both D-Pad and touch friendly, supports importing opml files and scheduled updates. Yep, it’s pRSS Reader. I’ve tried a good deal and this is the only one that works both reliably and well.
Your own personal library
If you’re still unacquainted with ebook readers that’s OK – perhaps reading from a screen just isn’t for you. If it is, however, you’ll need an ebook reader on your phone. I’d like to recommend Haali Reader. It’s an excellent and small application – it remembers your position in all and any file even after closing (a lifesaver), has customisable fonts, sizes and colours, supports autoscrolling, assigned buttons, fullscreen, UTF, and of course supports a good deal of popular ebook formats. It shows a lovely timeline at the bottom with divisions for chapters (if recognised) and bookmarking support.
That’s enough for part 1, in part 2 we’ll cover another 5 awesome (but less awesome than the first 5) applications that you should dump on your device.
Sponsored link: BestWindowsMobileApps – an unbiased and verbose review site for windows mobile applications.