My two favorite features of the Cingular 8525 is the 2 meg camera and the Touchscreen with writing recognition. The camera features will require a separate article and you’ll just have to wait. Yes, it’s THAT involved!
For now, let’s explore the ‘Portable Computer’ aspects of this device. Which is to say this phone really feels like I’m walking around with a small computer. I don’t often use the slide-out keyboard but it’s nice to know it’s there. The software keyboard and especially the handwriting recognizer is Especially useful and fun. But what makes this FEEL like a computer is the additional APPS. I have spent a great deal of time looking for and downloading little programs to add to the 8525. I will be reviewing briefly programs that are free to use, but there’s certainly a bunch that you can pay for.
I wanted a screen capture program – basically to make my life a bit easier when writing these articles. This way I don’t have to take extra steps snapping pictures of the 8525 screen with my camera. I looked around and found several available but ended up using Pocket Snap It mostly because it was easy to install and free.
Click on the icon here to see the opening page of Pocket Snap It which shows that it is set to “snap” the full page, saves to the directory I specified, and waits for the key press I also specified to “snap” the screen. All I have to do is start the program and then go to whatever screen I want to save, hit the key and Presto! it has been ‘snapped’. It saves the images in bmp, which is not my favorite format, but easily changed to other formats outside the 8525 via the microSD card. Which is what I did for this article. Notice, please, that the Save directory is on my “Storage Card/”. Very convenient!
Click on to see the menu list of Settings for this very simple program. It will save the bmp’s with an increasing number and whatever prefix you want (“snap01”, “snap02”, etc). And it comes with a readme file. When I’ve ‘snapped’ all the screens I need, I just return to the opening screen of the program and hit the Stop menu. Simple. My favorite kind of program.
The next program I unearthed is CurrencyConv. It’s simple, easy and can be used to compare three currencies at once. I can type or write (via stylus) in any amount in any of the three fields which then calculates the comparisons immediately. Yes, i know it’s a ‘simple’ thing, but that’s whats cool about it. Wonderful for travelers! There’s a Huge listing of various currencies around the world. And the program lets you update the database. Check out this guys web site; he’s got other programs going and keeps them updated. (I’m not related to him, honest!)
Metro – v5.4.7 is a complex program that lets the user access information about (almost) all the subways and buses in the main cities around the world. What a tall order! I am still trying to figure out exactly how to work it. But, basically, you pick the city you want to explore, then pick from the list of public transportation available there – lines of trains, etc – and choose the start and end point of your proposed trip. The program calculates each stop and where you need to walk to/from and gives this info as a route. The picture (click the thumbnail) shows Glasgow and a route in it’s “Clockwork Orange” train system. I tried Metro with the New York subway as I’m Very familiar with that one and while I don’t always agree with the programs idea of “best” route, it’s better than being totally clueless when you travel to a place you have never been in.
You can apparently connect travel info with your Calendar and Contact List, but I haven’t quite figured out how yet. Fortunately, this program comes with documentation. The very small icons are often a bit hard to read, but that’s probably more an issue with me needing better glasses. The fact that I can take a look at what’s up with subways around the world, however, keeps me interested. Once again, this is a program that is SO useful to a traveler. Or just a subway nut like myself.
QuickClear – v0.3.5 doesn’t have a screen or any settings. Just install and click on the icon to start it. It will then quickly clear your temp files! It will pop up a window letting you know how many useless files have just been cleaned from your system. When you consider how annoying any Windows system can be with creating endless stupid “temp” files which just hang around for no reason, this kind of program is nice. Especially for a cell phone which has a small amount of space to begin with.
ClearTemp is another program which you clean up your mobile system. This one lets you pick which temp and problem files to remove, just click the thumbnail to see the list you are presented with. You see how much space each file is sucking up. pick any or all and clean them out! Another cool feature that I appreciate is the soft reboot! After a cleanup, a reboot may be in order. Or not. It’s up to you. Very nice.
Virtual Earth Mobile – v1.69 is another cool map program. I can’t get enough of those! You can use this with a GPS, if you have one. If I get one of those, I’ll be testing it like crazy! If you don’t have GPS you can have the program “locate” you using WiFi which basically means it will use you ISP as a locater. So it’s really locating your service, not you and where your phone is. You can use Lat/Lon, address you type in or one from your Contact List or a business to access the map. And, you get driving direction to and from locations. Shift between various map types like “Traffic”, “Aerial”, “Road”, and “Road and Traffic”. Click on the thumbnail and see the Aerial of Santa Monica Beach. That Green stick figure is me on the beach.
Mortplayer is a music player, basically. But, holy cow! This program has so many settings I may spend the next year finding them all. It has a very extensive Help system which also will take time to read. It installed nicely (I prefer cab files over exe) and included help files during the intital setup. IT also comes in several languages. Nice!
It also comes with various skins. See one by clicking the thumbnail. Here is one sort of shaped as a shell. It’s beautiful, but I know it will take me time to figure out where all the “stuff” is. It’s best to start with the simple GUI skin first to get used to a program before one graduates to another skin. You can also get more skins from the programmers web site. Today I went rooting around and found this one Looks nice, eh? The reason I bothered to download this App in the first place is because it lets you use any sound file on your 8525 – including files on the microSD card for an alarm. I hate the notification sounds that come with the phone and I’m still looking for a way to use other sound files, but at least this program lets me customize my alarm. And, yes, it works. I woke up to it this morning.
Mandelbrot and Co. is obviously a fractal creation app and it’s another one of my obsessions. This one comes with a bunch of settings, palettes can be loaded and saved, for those of us who remember those heady Amiga/DeluxePaint days, this little prog lets you cycle. Ahhh, that feels So good. You can make a zoom and then make it “slideshow”. It almost feels like an animation. I don’t think it lets you save the files as images, but as I have a screen snapper, this is a minor issue. Anyway, it’s a fun little program.
Word Mobile In case anyone thinks the phone doesn’t come with programs that provide a bit of fun, Word Mobile has given me a few laughs. No, seriously. I installed a couple of my favorite trueType fonts in the Windows/fonts directory and happily, they are automatically seen by the system. And that includes Word Mobile. Click the thumbnail to see my little fonts test. That’s not bad for a program on a phone. And, if I copy the RTF file to my laptop I can read it in WordPad perfectly – colors and all. I can also read it in Linux KOffice just fine. Well, it’s IS RTF, after all. Anyway, that basically means you can write up a nice text file while traveling on a bus and transfer it (or email it) later. Not bad, eh?
Ok, I admit it, I just love the colors!
More Apps and fun next installment of the Cingular 8525 Adventure.