As more people are performing computing chores on their mobile phones, the search for useful apps is on.
E-mail is usually covered adequately by smartphones, but how about instant messaging, forum reading, better web browsing, and tweeting? No problem. Read on for some suggestions.
Q: I’m addicted to instant messaging on the computer, but my iPhone doesn’t seem to have the ability to tie in to my Yahoo instant message account. Is there a cell phone app that will work?
A: If you use only Yahoo!, you can certainly do worse that downloading and installing Yahoo! for mobile. Just navigate to http://mobile.yahoo.com and type in your phone number. Yahoo will message you a direct link to the application’s download site. Or you can type m.yahoo.com into your phone’s browser, and you’ll get the same thing. The Yahoo! app will give you access to the IM client as well as plenty of other Yahoo! services, including e-mail.
If you need access to more than one instant messenger from your smartphone, though, try Beejive (http://www.beejive.com). This nifty little application can aggregate your IM account from multiple services, including Yahoo!, AIM, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, and more. Also available for BlackBerry, Beejive sports a very intuitive and easy-to-read interface, and with it, you’ll be able to keep track of multiple conversations from multiple services at once.
Q: I use my BlackBerry for everything except web browsing because the browser is so slow and hard to read. Is there a better browsing application I can use?
A: The web browser in the BlackBerry phone is indeed lacking. But there are options. Your first stop should be to http://m.opera.com on your BlackBerry browser. There, you’ll find Opera Mini, a free browser that does everything that the BlackBerry browser doesn’t.
It’s fast, first of all. But just as important, it makes web sites easier to read on the mobile phone by including a zoom rectangle around the mouse cursor. You move the rectangle to an area of a web page that you’d like to read, and the Opera Mini browser zooms in quickly to allow you to read that portion of the web sites.
Opera Mini works not just on the BlackBerry, by the way. Just about anyone with a web-connected smartphone should be able to install it.
Firefox fans will be glad to know that their favourite browser is coming soon to mobile phones. Firefox Mobile (http://mzl.la/NQySZ) will include such features as borderless browsing, so that your browsing is unhindered by toolbars, status bars, menus, and the like.
It will also be able to synch your bookmarks between your desktop and browser, and it will include “location aware” browsing, which will allow the browser to offer you maps or tell you about events based upon your current location. Right now Firefox Mobile is available only on the Nokia N9000, but ultimately it will be universally available.
Keep in mind that if what you primarily do on your BlackBerry’s browser is go directly to Google to conduct a search, you may be happy with the free Google Mobile app. Google Mobile puts an easy-to-read mobile version of Google on your BlackBerry or other smartphone, and it also includes handy links to Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and Buzz. Since it’s free and small, Google Mobile is worth a download. Point your phone’s browser to m.google.com to download it.
Q: I’m a web forum junkie, but browsing forums on my phone is painful, and creating threads and posting replies is next to impossible. Is there a better way?
A: Yes. Tapatalk (http://www.tapatalk.com) has quickly gained popularity as a web forum reader, and for good reason. First, for those forums that have integrated the code necessary for them to become Tapatalk-enabled, it does away with the forums’ bulky web interface and puts the primary content — discussions — in a phone-friendly format. Reading topics becomes a simple matter of scrolling through the threads, and of course you can create new threads or respond to existing ones directly from your phone.
Right now Tapatalk is available for iPhone, Android, Nokia, and — in beta — BlackBerry. Once installed, you can use the application to browse for forums by topic, sign up, and start talking.
Q: What are some good mobile applications for using Twitter from my mobile phone?
A: The idea behind Twitter — to let followers know what you’re doing as you’re doing it — seems tailor-made for mobile phones. So there are dozens upon dozens of mobile phone apps that can tie in to your Twitter account. But perhaps the best place for you to start is with the official smartphone applications from Twitter itself.
Twitter for BlackBerry is available directly from your smartphone through the App World application. TwitterBerry (http://bit.ly/3HKWSd) is another good choice. For iPhone, Twitter acquired the popular Tweetie application (http://bit.ly/LjStO).
Once installed, any of these applications launch in a flash and let you make tweets as easily as you type a text message.
Also, no matter, which smartphone you might use, don’t forget Google Buzz (http://www.google.com/buzz), which will tie in to your Twitter account and some other popular social networking sites, like Flickr.