As I mentioned the other day, I lost my mobile phone and had to buy a new one. I got a Blackberry 7130e from Verizon Wireless. The transfer from T-Mobile to Verizon Wireless took just minutes and by the time I left the Verizon store, I had phone service via my same telephone number.
The first thing that I noticed about my new phone was that it could do a lot more stuff than my old one (an older BlackBerry 7100t). The new phone uses Verizon’s EV-DO network, which is a lot faster for data retrieval and internet access.
So while I only used my old phone to read my office emails and to make calls, I decided to see what else my new phone could do for me.
Here, in no particular order, is what I have done so far to make my mobile phone as smart and helpful as possible.
I’m looking for new and better things to add to my mobile toolbag, so please leave any suggestions in the Comments.
Make it a Modem
Verizon’s BroadbandAccess Connect, its wireless broadband service, costs $79 a month for non-Verizon customers and $59 a month if you are a Verizon mobile phone customer. Those prices also require you to purchase a PC card for your laptop. But if you don’t mind using your phone as a tethered (via a USB cable) modem, the cost is only $15 a month. I signed up and so far the access is fast and fairly reliable (I do have to reconnect once in a while, but that’s not a huge problem).
Make or Find a Portal
I’ve defended portals here on several occasions, having created The Home Place as a custom internet portal years ago. I use it as my “home page,” as do other friends and family. But there’s too much stuff on that page for the small screen on my phone, so I created THPMobile and set it as the home page for my phone’s browser.
Get Home and Office Email
Setting up my office email was as simple as connecting the phone to my office computer, since I was already set up to synchronize with my old phone. The Blackberry software noticed that I had a new phone, prompted me and quickly synchronized all my information.
Getting the phone to pull my home email, while leaving a copy on my mail server and using my spam filters was more of a challenge. You can set these other email accounts up via the phone, but I found it much easier to do via the Blackberry/Verizon web site.
After a little trial and error, all of my mail ends up on my phone. Plus, the phone can tell the accounts apart and knows to reply from the correct one.
Next, I wanted to get some navigation capability. I went to Google first and hit paydirt with Google Local for Mobile. It’s easy to install and gives you maps, satellite photos and directions to and from anywhere you want to go. It’s easy to use and, via waypoints and next prompts, will lead you to your destination.
Next, I wanted to add some easy to read, text based news. I found two that I liked and added.
Google News. The Google News, Text Version works pretty well, but the newly released mobile version works the best (there’s a link to it on THPMobile).
New York Times Mobile (the link on THPMobile doesn’t work in a traditional browser, but this great site has a ton of very easy to find news, weather and sports article summaries). On the web, it talks about having to pay for the content, but if I’m paying for anything, I don’t know it. I’m getting article summaries via the link on THPMobile. Granted, it’s not the entire article, but it’s generally enough for me.
Add a Search Engine
My search for search ended up back at Google, where I found and added a link to Google Mobile Search. This simple and quick search box allows easy searches of the web, images, local information (which can then be clicked on for directions) and stuff designed specifically for mobile devices. Very handy.
I tried a bunch of the weather options and ended up using the weather function of MSN Mobile. I added a direct link to THPMobile for easy access. The weather content is also available via MHS Mobile (see below).
The Rest of MSN Mobile
I installed and configured the rest of MSN Mobile, which allows me to check my Hotmail email account, use MSN Messenger if I need to and access other news and similar content.
I really wanted to be able to access my photos from the road and was happy to find Flickr Mobile. It lets you access and view your photos. You have to sign in every time you use it, which is sort of a drag, but once you access your photos, it works really well.
Next, I configured Yahoo Mobile, which allows me to check my Yahoo Mail and to access other news and similar content, plus alternative weather and driving directions. And Yahoo has some mobile-appropriate games for those long layovers. I added a link on THPMobile to the games. I only tried Blackjack and Hangman, but they seemed to work pretty well.
Since I get most of my daily news and web content via RSS feeds and My Yahoo is not mobile-friendly, I needed a way to get that data to my mobile phone. I had read about Mobilglu, so I checked it out. After signing up and downloading the MobileGlu application, I was able to add some RSS feeds to my account and access them from my phone. I haven’t played around with the application very much, but so far it looks like all the RSS feeds stream via a single feed. I hope I wrong about that, because I really want a clickable feed list.
In the meantime, I am using Bloglines Mobile, which at least gives me my blog feeds in a clickable list (I don’t use Bloglines for my news feeds).
What Else Do I Need
So that’s the story to date. If you know of other good mobile websites or applications, leave them in a Comment. I’ll definitely check them out.