Nokia killed Symbian. Many links to Symbian apps on this site have expired. Check out Android Underground.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Web browsers: Opera Mobile fast, Skyfire dead, Bolt new

Opera Mobile
Opera Mobile Symbian S60 mobile phone web browser
The big brother of Opera Mini is updated: version 10.1 is no longer in beta testing. Unlike Opera Mini, Opera Mobile doesn't use a proxy server so there's nothing in between you and the web. Version 10.1 scrolls smoother and runs javascript faster.

Opera Mobile has a turbo mode which makes it behave like Opera Mini. The main advantage of turbo mode is that it saves a lot of data traffic, which could make a big difference on your phone bill if you're roaming abroad and pay by the megabyte. It looks like Opera Mini in just about everything else too. Same user interface with tabbed browsing, Opera Link to synchronise your bookmarks and speed dials with other Opera browsers (like Opera Mini) on all your phones, and the same annoying "are you sure" confirmation screen when you want to close the program.

Opera Mobile

Skyfire mobile web browser for Symbian S60
Skyfire is not a good mobile browser (slow, eats lots of data, only works in North America and Western Europe), but it does let you watch Flash and QuickTime movies, and because of its american proxy server it allowed those outside Germany, England, and the USA to listen to without having to buy a subscription.

But hurry, because Skyfire is going to ditch Symbian. Skyfire's site only lets you download the iPhone and Android versions, and they announced that the proxy-based Symbian version 1.0 will stop working at the end of the year. The latest Symbian version of Skyfire is 1.5, but all the signs indicate that this version will die together with version 1.0.


Skyfire for Symbian is no longer available from Skyfire's own website, and they've pulled out of the Ovi store too. You can still get Skyfire 1.5 from Mobile Castle:

Skyfire 1.5 at Mobile Castle (you'll need to create a free account, or use BugMeNot) UPDATE: Mobile Castle is dead. And so is Symbian.

Update: Skyfire is really dead now. No version of Skyfire connects on my Nokia. They promised to kill it and they killed it.

Bolt mobile phone web browser Symbian Java
Now that Skyfire for Symbian is about to die, it might be a good idea to give Bolt a shot.

Symbian web browser Bolt does tabbed browsing, has a good user interface, and it does a good job at conserving page layout (except for sites with frames). Bolt plays YouTube and other Flash video, but Skyfire does it better.

There's no predictive text input, so entering URLs can be a bit unpleasant.

Bolt is made in mobile Java. The official site only gives you a .jad file, and wants you to download the corresponding .jar file from your phone for an on-the-fly install. Of course you can also open the .jad file in a text editor to look up the URL for the .jar file if you want to look inside the file before installing it on your phone.

If Bolt doesn't play sound on your phone, switch to a profile with warning tones on and try again. Yep, that sucks, but it's a disadvantage common to mobile Java programs.

Bolt UPDATE: This link is dead. And so is Symbian.
Bolt at GetJar UPDATE: This link is dead. And so is Symbian.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Hard times for multi-network instant messengers: Nimbuzz forced to axe ICQ

Nimbuzz SIP VoIP chat instant messaging messenger
VoIP, chat, and twitter program Nimbuzz connects to SIP (the standard VoIP protocol), GoogleTalk, Jabber, MSN (Windows Live), Yahoo, AIM, Twitter, Gadu-Gadu, Facebook, MySpace, orkut, and Hyves.

It used to connect with ICQ too, but not anymore. After having to remove Skype from their program they had to do the same with ICQ.

The reason: money.

ICQ wanted Nimbuzz to pay for everyone who chats over their network with Nimbuzz. Obviously that's not gonna happen for a free program. Nobody pays to chat, so there's no way for Nimbuzz to recoup the money.

No more Skype in Nimbuzz and fring is a big loss. Having ICQ removed from Nimbuzz is no big deal because there are plenty of other instant messaging networks left. But let's hope that GoogleTalk and MSN don't follow the bad examples set by Skype and ICQ, because then the end of multi-network chat programs is nearby.

ICQ doesn't seem to work anymore with Palringo either. Fring still has ICQ. But who knows for how long?


Friday, 5 November 2010

Nimbuzz got better looks and no more Facebook friends limit

Nimbuzz fring Skype SIP VoIP chat instant messaging messenger
VoIP, chat, and twitter program Nimbuzz connects to SIP, GoogleTalk, Jabber, MSN (Windows Live), Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, orkut, and Hyves.

Nimbuzz has a well designed user interface, and that interface got better. The latest version of Nimbuzz lets you hide unused tabs. For example, you can get rid of the Twitter tab if you don't tweet. You can also remove the new "recent calls" tab, but I'm gonna keep that one.

Other new eye candy: chat interface with avatars and without, three views for the contacts list (avatars, no avatars, avatars for highlighted contact only), and if you send pictures to your friends you'll see a preview image in the chat screen.

More good news: the old limit of 400 Facebook contacts has gone. If Nimbuzz only could get Skype back into the program...

I downloaded Nimbuzz 3.0 and installed it on top of the old version. Unfortunately Nimbuzz forgot my settings. It remembered my network accounts and VoIP provider (because this is stored on Nimbuzz's server), but it reset my preferred VoIP provider from SIP to NimbuzzOut, which is a shameless way to plug their own calling plan. It also changed my notification sounds to default and reactivated all the vibration alerts that I switched off. So remember to go through the settings screens when you update your old version of Nimbuzz.

fring (the main competitor of Nimbuzz)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

New UC Browser goes official

UC Browser, mobile phone web browser for Symbian
Unofficial english translations of the latest edition of chinese Symbian web browser UC Browser were already available on most mobile phone software forums, but now you can get UC Browser version 7.4 straight from the makers.

UC Browser is similar to Opera Mini. It routes sites through a proxy server to speed up surfing and reduce the data traffic consumed by your phone. Web pages can be displayed like in a desktop browser, which means lots of scrolling and zooming in and out on small phone screens. You can choose adaptive view instead. This resizes images and reflows text to fit the width of your screen, which eliminates the need for horizontal scrolling. Adaptive view in UC Browser 7.4 is much better than in older versions, especially for sites with extensive formatting and other eye candy. You can also activate page segmentation, which splits large pages into smaller ones for faster loading and easier browsing.

UC Browser has a download manager, makes it really easy to copy text and images, and deleting your browsing history and cookies requires less clicks than in other Symbian web browsers.

The "my shortcuts" screen of UC Browser looks like a mix of Opera Mini's speed dial page and a bookmarks menu. Unfortunately it is filled with links to sites chosen by the makers of UC Browser and you can't remove the clutter. Do these sites pay UC Browser to get themselves advertised this way? The shortcuts screen would be way better if it would mix speed dials with your own bookmarks folders.

UC Browser

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

New improved version of phone book, call recorder and threaded SMS program Youlu

Youlu Address Book: contacts manager, threaded SMS, call recorder for Symbian
Youlu Address Book is more than an address book. It's also an SMS program, call recorder, and "vibrate on answer" application. A name like "Youlu Contacts" would fit this versatile program much better.

If you trust Youlu's server with your private data it can backup your contacts, messages, and calender to its server. This not only gets your phone book back when your phone gets lost or broken, but it's also useful for synchronising your data between phones. But even without Youlu's online backup there are still plenty of reasons to use this very useful program.

Youlu Adress Book does the things you expect from an address book (make phone calls, edit your contacts, send SMSs). The latest version reads the contacts on your SIM card too, and it lets you edit the pictures associated with your contacts. Youlu lets you tie ringtones to contacts if they're stored in the standard sounds folders on your phone. It doesn't see sound files in other folders, which is great if you want to set a ringtone without having to scroll through the thousands of MP3s that you may have stored in your music folder.

The SMS tab shows your messages as threaded conversations. The latest version of Youlu sees all your messages, even if you move them into custom folders. Even better, Youlu lets you choose whether you want to group conversations by contact or by folder. And unlike some other SMS programs, messages that you send with Youlu appear in the built-in SMS application of your phone too.

Some minor things to fix:

The phone book manager doesn't have all the fields from Symbian's built-in address book. Anniversaries, SIP (VoIP) numbers, and notes are among the missing entries.

The FreeCallSprite-like "vibrate on answer" function didn't work when I tried it.

The call recorder works if you activate it with the central navigation button, but the "record with camera button" option made Youlu crash on my phone.

Hitting the red hangup button sends the program to the background instead of closing it, and when Youlu runs in the background it won't show up in the task manager when you long-press the menu key. Exiting the program still requires a trip to the menu in the settings tab. Maybe a future version of Youlu can let us configure the behaviour of the red button and make the program appear the task manager when sent to the background?

If Youlu fixes the few remaining issues it will be very tempting to ditch my phone's built-in phone book and SMS client and use Youlu instead. Especially if it gets an offline backup function to store contacts, messages, and calender entries in a file on my own memory card and computer instead of on Youlu's server.

Youlu UPDATE: This link is dead. And so is Symbian.

Last time I checked, the official site still offered version 1.0.1 of the program. But version 1.0.2 (which is much better) is available on Ziddu:

Youlu 1.0.2 (english version) on Ziddu UPDATE: This link is dead. And so is Symbian.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Symbian steals my money

Symbian mobile phone operating system
Symbian may have gone open source, but it is a commercial operating system for commercial phones from commercial companies who use it to make as much money as possible. That's why Symbian Signed protects the interests of Big Business at the expense of the small independent programmers who have to pay to get their programs signed even if they want to give them away for free.

Symbian being commercial is no problem as long as you can choose to pay for it if you want instead of being forced to hand over your money. If you prefer the products of the competition, you shouldn't have to pay a single penny to Symbian.

But now I have to pay for Symbian whether I use it or not. Because the makers of Symbian held out their greedy hands and pocketed €22000000 of my tax money from the European Union to increase the profits of Nokia.

If the shameless beggars from Symbian would have had balls they'd have refused this tax handout. They wouldn't even have applied for the money to begin with.

What's next? Will this get just as ugly as the Boeing vs. Airbus subsidy war? Are Android and Apple going to grab a cut from the Stimulus Program? Will RIM lobby to get their Blackberries subsidised by the government? Will we have to pay a Windows Mobile Tax because Bill Gates is short on cash? Funding phone operating systems with public money is plain wrong!

Shame on you, $ymbian. I want my money back!

UPDATE: The 22 million is split by the taxpayers and the members of the Symbian Foundation, so we only got scammed for eleven million. And now Symbian has the nerve to defend their actions on their blog and tell us they only stole half. Maybe I should start robbing people on the street and see if I can get away with it if I only take half their cash?

Symbian bragging about their robbery