December 26, 2007

Get There Faster With AppQLaunch!

Let's face it: the Symbian OS, despite all the major overhauls that it has received over the years, is still horribly laggy. Sure, that might not be the case for newer phones (fingers crossed), but the bulk of S60 phones released by Nokia in the past few years all bear this striking resemblance.

For instance, how many times have you wished to run an app that's not present on the Active Standby (or Today Screen) instantly, only to find yourself pressing the Menu button and staring at the phone screen as the feeble processor quietly churns to process your request?

The harsh reality is that this has been the case for so many years now. Fairly recent phones like the N73, N80, N93 etc all go down on their knees (albeit for a few seconds only) whenever you try to open folders from the Menu. Sad as it is, I'd like to think of it as a plague that is endemic to Symbian OS phones. Anyway, here are some other noteworthy observations on my part:

Arbitrary Observations

  • One of the areas where Nokia needs to work on is incorporating more items in the Active Standby screen. The current arrangement of 6 or 7 apps is insufficient and sets a limit that tends to be very annoying, as the user constantly needs to assess the best possible combination of favourite applications for him or herself by weighing the practicality of one against another. Bumping that to 12 apps (or two lines worth of apps) doesn't sound like a bad choice.

  • The Menu app needs some serious tweaking and memory optimization as no one likes to wait for an eternity while opening folders and the like. Currently, delays of upto 3 or 4 seconds aren't uncommon, even on the flagship Nseries devices.

  • Another area that has been sadly neglected for so long now has to be Menu organization. The current setup is very, very clunky and antiquated. I still can't imagine why someone would want a whole plethora of diversified apps, from Bluetooth to Themes to Profiles to the File Manager, all in one place?!! Check the Tools folder if you don't believe me. There really needs to be a logical arranegment of items. Period.

Anyway, that's enough pitiful lamenting on my part.

Presenting AppQLaunch

Moving on, one of the greatest attributes of S60 phones has to be the profound flexibility that the Symbian OS offers. Don't like the way the lethargic menu behaves? Why, simply create something that does the job better. And that, folks, is precisely what Yohanes Nugroho has done for the Symbian community.

AppQLaunch has to be one of the most revolutionary apps of its time. Although it aims to be a simple complement for the Menu app, but it does way more than that. Infact, I have become so dependent on it that it has actually replaced my usage of the Menu altogether. It functions in an extraordinarily simple way. Once installed, all that needs to be done on the user's part is to type the first few letters of the name of the app that is to be run.

Wish to use Bluetooth? Using AppQLaunch, just type in "b" and immediately you'll be presented with a list of apps that start with the letter. I've found that running apps in this way is typically much faster than the painful navigation offered by the Menu.

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All in all, a great app. I'd recommend you to install it to Phone Memory. It's very small indeed, weighing in at about 17KB and can safely be run in the background at all times. Furthermore, be sure to set it to function as one of your softkeys -- the Right Softkey is set to respond faster than the Left Softkey by default, so you can set it that way. To make the relevant changes, simply go to Tools > Settings > Standby Mode. Tap "Right Selection Key" and set it to AppQLaunch.

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Now, whenever you're in a hurry, remember that you'll always get there faster with AppQLaunch. Talk about a cheesy closing line, heh.

To download it for your S60 3rd edition device, click here to visit the author's site for the free download or get it directly from The Series 60 Weblog by clicking here.

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December 25, 2007

Learning Python The Easy Way

Hello everyone! You may probably have heard about Python for the Nokia S60 platform. One of the most exciting features of this programming language is that it provides access to several unique smartphone functions, including the camera, calendar, audio as well as telephony amongst other things. This is partly why it has become so popular over time.

Some days ago I stumbled upon an excellent book related to Python for S60 devices. It's called "Mobile Python" and is written by J├╝rgen Scheible and Ville Tuulos.

Furthermore, for those of you interested, there's an amazing repository of Python code available online for free right over here. This is something that you must check out. There are over 100 examples to try out...from making a simple app that can record audio to making a message reader to taking pictures with your phone camera. The possibilities are endless!

One of the best ways of learning the basics of a language is by going through code examples step by step. That is where Python is so friendly and non-fussy. In case you falter, you'll eventually learn how to correct the mistake just by studying the code. Anyway, if you've come this far, just try this:
  • Grab a text editor (notepad will do just fine) and paste the code (try any of the examples above)
  • Rename the file to *.py and send it to your phone's memory card (e:\Python)
  • Install the Python for S60 application (PythonForS60_1_4_0_3rdEd.sis) on your phone
  • Install the script shell (PythonScriptShell_1_4_0_3rdEd.sis)
  • Next, run Python from your phone and click "Run Script" to execute the code that you've just sent
P.S If you don't already have Python installed, click here to get it for your S60 3rd Edition phone.

I hope you see how easy it is to make your own programs using Python. The code examples given above are enough to get one started. Anyway, happy python-ing!

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December 16, 2007

Be Back Shortly!

Hey All! You may have noticed how intermittent and irregular my posting has become in recent times... courtesy of a gargantuan workload that has kept me busy all this while. Infact, I don't even remember when I last posted! *grumble*

Anyway, things are finally back on, stick around for just a couple of more days and I shall return with something novel. For those curious, I've been working on the Flashlight script with the latest release of Python, and things do look good so far... :)

Thanks for stopping by everyone! Until next time!

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