Optimum/Standard Software Choices for the Nokia 7650


I'm going to be buying a Nokia 3650 within days. If I can't find one tomorrow here in Madrid I'll just order it online. I NEED that phone. (I have yet to see ONE in the past several weeks, on the shelves or in the streets. God knows where they are, but they're not here. Pedro has one, but where the hell did he get it?!?!)

The main thing about the 3650 is the memory boost. Being able to buy MMC cards up to 128MB means you can have just about every piece of software released for Series 60 phones installed and still have room for dozens of eBooks, games, etc.

The 7650, however, is still very popular... for good reason, it's a great phone. But the memory sucks. Having only 4MB means that you really have to "optimize" your software. You need to have room for the basic apps, plus space to save photos, video and SMS/MMS messages you may receive. It's a tough choice.

After the Symbian exposium, I've decided to rethink my software choices on my phone.

First, I got rid of all the Java software I have because I really wasn't using them much. Jim and I worked out how to copy the .jars off the phone so that friends can try them or to back up. Just use FExplorer or EpocWare's PC File Manager and copy the directories out of c:\system\midp - the most important being the .jars which can be reinstalled again if you want. Note that publishing this stuff on public web sites so that thousands of people can download them is bad, however, I should be able to share software I purchased to show a friend. I have confidence in them not to continue sharing shared software. This is how I feel about MP3s as well.

The one Java app that I used quite a lot is TipicME. However, they are starting to have connectivity problems and the new version, 1.3, suuuucks and the old version isn't being supported now. I tried the Pro version (which can be rented for $4 a month) and the screwed it up by adding an Alert to every message I send. Before when I wrote a message, it would just appear on the screen just like a normal chat app. But now when you write a message, you get an ALERT + Beep Sound repeating to you what you just sent. Yes, I know what I just sent, I just wrote it, no need to throw it in my face. Whoever decided that was a feature is nuts. Maybe it's a debug thing that got left in? Who knows, but I decided to move on.

So then I looked at my other software. I decided that Stacker wasn't saving enough memory for me to be worth the time waiting for the apps to load, so I got rid of that. The T-Mobile Video app died on April 1st for some reason (the message was in German). That's a real shame because it saved the videos in MPEG 4 format which I could post to the web. So that got deleted. So that left just YFTP, FExplorer and GoBoy as my installed apps. GoBoy is great (AWESOME actually), but it requires relatively huge Gameboy ROMs in order to be useful. So that had to go as well. It's too bad since the original Tetris DX color is seriously a KILLER APP for the Nokia phones. Finally, my web browser, Doris, is getting replaced by something better as well.

So now, I've got myself a pretty clean phone and it's time to start building it up again. But I've already noticed there's some cruft building up, so I've been using File Manager to go through and look for extraneous files. Remember, with memory this tight, you aren't thinking in MB any more but in KB. I've got roughly 4,000 kilobytes to play with. Thus if I see a file that looks like cruft that takes up 10KB, that's a lot. The problem is most of the cruft is in the c:\system folder and messing around in there is somewhat dangerous, but still... a KB saved is worth it.

Urgh. Listen to me... Do you see why 128MB on a 3650 seems so decadent now?

Anyways, I've sort of ranted about this before. But I wanted to express a habit I have both on my Personal Computer and my phone. I want to use the apps which I think are the most normally used because I want to target that in the future. On a consumer phone you have to assume that MOST people are not going to install Symbian apps. Especially on the 7650. Java apps will probably be sold and downloaded OTA, but Symbian apps will be very rare.

One of the apps that I think WILL be popular is Opera's new web browser. I've played with it today and it works REALLY WELL. It takes up 876KB plus a bunch more space for its working cache, so it's a big program. But to have a real web browser on my phone it's worth giving up 1/4 of my storage space. The browser supports HTML, XHTML, cHTML, WML, CSS, JavaScript, and more. Well worth the $19.00 I paid for it. They're going to raise this price later to over $30, however, and I think Opera's NUTS for doing it. That's a model based on PCs not mobile phones. There's going to be millions and millions of phones out there - they should charge less and go for volume. There should even be a little "send to a friend" option in th emenu so you can send a trial app via Bluetooth. And the trial shouldn't cut out after a time period, it should be useable but with limited functionality. If I was Opera I would try to blanket the earth with their browser much like Microsoft did with IE. He who controls the browser, controls the Internet experience. Anyways, that's just my thoughts. The browser is much, much better right now that Access NetFront, which wouldn't be bad (supporting much of the same specs) except that the way NetFront scrolls makes it quite unusable. Instead of paging up and down and then selecting links by clicking the main button like in Doris, or by clicking left and right like in Opera, NetFront only scrolls by jumping between links. It maks the whole experience VERY VERY difficult. For example, some pages have 50 links before the content, which means that using NetFront you have to click 50 times before you can start reading. Not very user friendly. Opera simply pages down when you click the down button and if you click to the right, it starts highlighting the links. Much nicer.

Okay, so my browser is chosen. It's a GREAT browser and makes my phone that much more useable. The second thing I need is a chat app. I've decided that TipicME is out for now because of their problems, and IM+ is the most horribly designed chat app in the world, so that doesn't leave me many choices. On the other hand, FastMobile's FastChat is a beautiful looking app that has advanced features such as Push-To-Talk, so after chatting with the guys at the conference I decided to sign up and give it a try. Now, personally, I think $6.00 a month is WAY too expensive - that works out to $72 a year for an app I'll use once in a while. Too much. Something like $25 a year would be more reasonable. It is going to have to be an AMAZING application for chatting in order for me to continue using it at that price. It's a bit of an oddball app right now. I was just trying it, and it's REALLY hard to figure out who you're talking to. Like IM+ it takes an SMS view of the world and tries to integrate chat and SMS into the same window. In other words, messages take presedent over conversations, which I don't like. But there's a lot to the app, so I'm going to try it out. It definitely is one of the nicest looking apps out there on the market right now. One bugaboo - it doesn't want to connect over my Bluetooth Internet connection, so playing with it costs real money. That sucks. Since I'm a subscriber, now I'm going to submit a bug reportt.

The final app that I really wanted and is somewhat "standard" is a video app. I was using T-Mobile's app until it died and I really liked it, but the 3650 comes standard with Nokia's Video Recorder, so I decided to grab the 7650 version (which I assume is the exact same app) and use that. I tried it out before, but the fact that it only records 3GPP (.3gp) videos put me off. It's an MPEG 4 dialect but uses a non-open codec owned by Ericsson and a company called VoiceAge. The videos need a proprietary player to play back the recordings and there's a nasty looking patent/license thing that you find if you go looking to install the codec for translation. This is the same thing you run into when you record voice stuff on the Nokia phones as well, they are coded as AMR files which, again, are proprietary and need special players. I guess the idea is that these are the "standard" codecs in the MMS world based on agreements made in the 3GPP consortium. I'm HOPING that this stuff works out and the codecs are made more widely available for playing on Real Player or Quicktime. I'd love to be able to post sound and video from my phone to my website for browsing. This will only happen if the codecs are available or if I find some way of translating the codecs into more popular formats. Anyways, I decided to bet on that happening, thus I'm using Nokia's video app again. It's pretty sweet. 15 second clips including sound (which T-Mobile's app didn't have.) It's nice.

So now on my phone I have Opera, YFTP, FExplorer, FastChat, and Nokia Video Recorder. This allows me to have about 1500k left over for data (SMS, MMS, video) and for the odd Java app I decide to download (I'll probably put Solytare back on, for instance). The two apps that I desperately miss are ReadM and GoBoy, but both are useless without large data files (eBook texts and Gameboy ROMs) so they're not on there any more. They'll be the first to go on my MMC card when I finally get a 3650. :-)


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