A SELECTION OF S60 applications comprise the second most valuable item of technology in 2008 for me. Alongside those applications are some clever web pages that are optimised for mobile phones. Taken together, the Series 60 applications and the mobile-friendly access to selected internet properties have reduced the size of my hand luggage. I now carry the smallest ultraportable computer around with me and I've proven the concept by leaving behind my laptop during major conferences, training sessions and speaking engagements. Within one generation of my current mobile phone, I expect to be able to run video presentations from a lectern by running a TV-out lead into a control head on the podium. This will take me into a new realm of story-telling, one powered by elegant little applications that consistently work, never have to be rebooted, and often come for free. Not all the applications in the screenshot above work well. Below the fold, I list some of the applications that have proven their worth time and again.
Qik Video. I make 10-minute video clips while reading the Sunday papers, using the S60 client from Qik.com. This means I can immediately stream content from my phone to the internet with no post-production in between. I can talk to people who visit my upload zone while I am filming or I can upstream the content into a private space. I don't film my cat playing the piano (although I would probably get more visitors if I did that), and try to stay inside specific genre (technology, client testimonials, unboxing items, travel notes). You can see my stuff at Qik.com/topgold and subscribe to the flow using an RSS reader or via iTunes.
Blip.tv video. With the video camera on my Nokia E90, I can capture video up to 640 x 480 resolution, then use my E90 to send the video up to Blip.tv for viewing later. Blip.tv converts the video clips into embeddable content. Blip.tv also streams your clips back to mobile phones. I don't think any other service has this capability. See if it works for you by clicking into topgold.blip.tv for a sample. I'm keeping most of the Blip work under wraps for a website that will launch in early 2009.
Maxroam SIM. You won't see Maxroam as an application on my phone but you will find a Maxroam SIM in one of my mobile phones whenever I travel outside Ireland. That's because Maxroam gives me global flexibility by making the local phone networks think I'm not roaming. I still pay for phone calls but they're much less expensive than those made while roaming or while using a hotel phone.
DABR.CO.UK I believe Dabr offers the most elegant mobile-optimised website on the internet. It's the window I normally use to see Twitter. Its search is faster than Summize, the service Twitter bought. Its screen displays updates faster than m.twitter.com and because of the way its API works, it doesn't seem to break or lag as much as updates received via instant message.
Nokia Maps. The on-board maps delivered to my Nokia E90 are accurate and useful. I've mapped routes in cities before visiting, then saved details for later. Running a data service and GPS with the maps talking to you will draw down the power on the phone faster than you might expect, so if accurate mobile mapping with voice directions proves useful, a back-up battery or fast-recharging method will become mission essential.
Nokia's Podcatcher. I like this little application. It runs in the background if needed and saves content I use while walking around town, commuting in Ireland or while waiting around before meetings. I work as a creative multimedia lecturer, so it's important to have a channel students can use to update content. The Nokia Podcatcher offers an easy way for me to grab that content as it updates.
Nokia Email. Although parts of the Nokia Email service feel like a beta service, in my experience, it feels like push mail on a Blackberry. Because of its dependability, I use Nokia Email as my direct messaging channel with Twitter. The mail serves me the direct messages as fast as they are written on Twitter.
Joikuspot. When sitting in a 3G coverage area and running Joikuspot, I can serve up the 3G signal from my phone as a wifi hotspot. Anyone who finds my E90 SSID can join it and hit the internet at 3G speeds.
Plain Vanilla Text. Many things make simple SMS a joy on the E90. I use the phone's text-to-speech to read me piles of text messages in one whack during most morning commutes. I listen to Jaiku this way because I've set Jaiku up to send me text messages. I also use the Communications Manager on my laptop when texting from the office because that laptop software makes it easy to send group text messages over SMS.
SIC! FTP. This is a full-fledged FTP program that lets me upload items to several of my web sites. It's handy knowing that I can record on the E90's audio manager with my shotgun mic and then upload the result directly to podcasting.ie where it's picked up by iTunes as a subscription.
Aqua Calendar. More than the standard calendar, Aqua Calendar keeps my eyes focused on things that are part of my Getting Things Done list. Its colour coding and tight displays show my week in one screen with shaded bars indicating tasks, meetings, and notes relevant to the week.
Agile Messenger. This IM program is a little like Meebo, the combined messaging program used by several Irish bloggers. I use Agile Messenger when hooking up with people on Yahoo! Messenger, my primary mode of IM. Agile Messenger gives me a very direct connection to one of my daughters as she works at her desk eight time zones away. For that reason alone, it's a special piece of software.
Free Range. This Java-powered feed aggregator grabs content and saves it locally on my phone. I routinely pull down more than 1000 pieces of content--normally more than 400 complete blog posts--and read them in an offline mode on the phone. This is a handy way of bringing my favourite blog sites with me as I fly.
Throughout 2008, I've installed and removed more than 10 other pieces of software. I wish I could have kept Truphone running on my E90 but it conflicted with several other packages and wouldn't shut down, draining my battery before the end of a business day. The Nokia S60 applications I've cited here work together, work without hassle, and when considered as part of one shopping cart, cost less than €160 to purchase and operate on my Nokia E90.
Previously -- "2008 Third Most Valuable Tech Item"