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3 Free Tools for Tracking your Lost Laptop, Smartphone or Tablet

I recently wrote about the lessons I’d learned from losing my laptop computer, and the measures I’d taken to ensure my devices and data were protected going forwards.

I was lucky enough to have my laptop returned to me, but what would happen if I lost a mobile device such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet?

Take it from me when I say that when you lose a device, your first thoughts turn to ascertaining whether the device has been accidentally lost, or actually stolen.

Fortunately there are a raft of Tracking and Anti-Theft software available – and in many cases, free of charge. The caveat with all of these methods is that they’re dependant upon an active Internet connection being live. If you have a continuous 3G signal – great, you’ll be on-line most places. But if the device is Wi-Fi only then you’re reliant on the device being actually connected to a Wi-Fi signal.

With that in mind, here are the three free tools I’ve installed on my mobile devices to track them in the event of a loss.

Prey Project

Prey Project LogoThe Prey Project is a lightweight, Open Source (i.e. free of charge) application that is available to install on any PC – Laptop, Netbook or Desktop, Apple Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Linux or Android device.

The application is quickly downloaded and installed, and using a single e-mail address you can protect up to 3 devices for free. There is also a Pro version available that allows you to protect many more devices and beef up your security further.

In the event that your equipment is lost, you visit the Prey Project Web-Site and through the Control Panel report your device as missing. Over the next twenty minutes, Prey then tries to communicate with the device and send you back a report via e-mail that highlights the devices GPS location, any Wireless networks found nearby and if available, a photograph taken using the devices webcam.

You can also perform actions such as set off an audible alarm on the laptop, display an alert on the devices screen (such as a message with your contact details) or lock the laptop keyboard – only to be unlocked by the password you specify.

When I lost my laptop I was fortunate enough to have Prey Project installed on it, but the laptop was never connected to the Internet so I never received a report. Once I’d got my laptop back though, I watched as within a few minutes of being connected on-line, Prey Project e-mailed me with me GPS location of my laptop (with me at home!) and a screenshot of me in front of the laptop. Prey Project is not fool proof, but you never known when you might need it!

 

Find my iPhone

Find my iPhone LogoThe Find my iPhone service is bundled free with any iPhone or iPad, and for those running iOS5 using iCloud, it’s bundled in.

In short, once installed upon your iPhone or iPad, you can use any other iOS device to find it and protect your data.

You can track your device using GPS to show a Map Location, and you can remotely play a sound or send a message to the device – regardless of whether it is muted or locked.

You can also remotely lock the device, and if you choose, remotely wipe the device protecting your data.

If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad – go and grab the free Find my iPhone app from the App Store now and set it up. It’s very, very useful.

 

Android Lost

Android Lost LogoMuch like Find my iPhone for iOS, Android Lost for Android Smartphones is a free tool that once installed enables you to remotely track your device, lock it, send messages to it, or remotely wipe the data from it.

But Android Lost also allows you to do many other things, such as take a photograph using the forward facing camera, use text to speech to make your phone say a message out loud (“I am lost! Please pick me up!”), notify you when the SIM card is changed, send a list of incoming and outgoing calls from the device via e-mail, forward your calls, erase any attached SD Card, read the phone status (to show Battery life, IMEI, SIM Card ID and more) and send commands via SMS from other mobile phones.

It’s hugely powerful, and as it is free, is an absolute no-brainer for any Android owner to install on their device.

 

Conclusion

In this blog post I’ve just covered PC, Apple Mac, Blackberry, Linux, iOS and Android devices – but as a former Windows Mobile and Windows Phone owner, I know there are similar tools for those platforms.

I’ve got Prey installed on my Laptop, Netbook, Android, iPhone and iPad, as well as Android Lost on my HTC Sensation, and Find my iPhone on my iPhone and iPad. Overkill? Maybe – but the overheads of these tools are so low, that there’s not much downside to installing multiple tracking tools on the same devices.

The key here is to install these apps and tools *before* you need them, because as I’ve already found out, whilst you think it’ll never happen to you – it’s very easy to lose a mobile device!

Tomorrow I’ll be writing about the measures you can take to ensure your precious data is safe in the event of a lost device.

 

My Mobile Phone Experiment, Part Two – Thoughts on Windows Phone 7

After recently saying goodbye to my HTC HD2 Windows Mobile 6.5 device, a few weeks ago I started an experiment. Grabbing a SIM Only Deal from mobile carrier, Three – I would, in turn, use an iPhone, a Windows Phone device and an Android device for a few weeks at a time each, using them in anger as my sole device for day-to-day activities, both business and leisure.

You can read about my original motivations for this experiment here.

You can read part one of this experiment – my thoughts on the iPhone here.

A couple of weeks ago, I put my iPhone away in a drawer (more on how long that lasted, later…) and thanks to my friends at Staffordshire University, got my hands on a shiny new HTC Pro 7 Windows Phone Device.

HTC Pro 7 HandsetNow as I’ve stated before, this experiment isn’t about the handsets themselves – it’s about the mobile Operating Systems. Which is just as well, because the HTC Pro 7 is heavy and felt like a throwback from 2003.

The reason it’s heavy is it has a built in QWERTY keyboard. I used this keyboard once during my time with the ‘phone… and then went back to using the on-screen keyboard – which is excellent, even for use with my “pound-of-sausages” like fingers. As somebody who bemoaned the loss of a QWERTY keyboard when I moved to touch-screen only devices, I’m shocked at this – but I found sliding the keyboard out and using it much more hassle than simple typing quickly on-screen. The mechanism for sliding the keyboard out and using it felt awkward and a touch delicate too – I was fearful of snapping the keyboard off.

That side note apart, let’s move onto the real reason for this experiment – to find out more about Windows Phone 7 (or WP7 to its friends).

I liked the interface, which consists of a number of customisable “tiles” on the home-screen (or Start screen, to use official terms) which you easily add or remove. The tiles are, for the most part, “live” – meaning that they reflect at a glance information – number of e-mails waiting, number of SMS messages unread, and in the case of the “People” tile (your mobile phone contacts) constantly rotating between mini photos of all your contacts. You can add just about anything to your home page as a tile – you simply “pin” a web-page, contact, application or anything else to the page. It’s a neat interface and one which I liked.

Jumping right in, setup of the device was very simple.

Firstly, you absolutely need a Windows Live ID to use this device. No problem here, as I already have a Live ID I use every day.

Charging is done via a USB cable. Thank goodness. Can we all standardise on USB please? (I’m looking at you, Apple).

Connecting to a Wi-Fi signal was simplicity itself, as when WP7 detects a new Wi-Fi signal it gently tells you so in it’s notification area at the top of the screen. Unlike Windows Mobile 6.5, it does this is a non-intrusive manner though. You’re aware of the info, but if you choose to ignore – you can.

Once you’ve setup a number of Wi-Fi signals in different locations, WP7 automatically and seamlessly connects to them as you move around. What’s more, leaving Wi-Fi turned on all the time didn’t seem to hammer the Battery life too much. I got a full day out of the ‘phone without having to re-charge. Very impressive.

My e-mail is hosted with Microsoft BPOS Hosted Exchange and Google Mail, and both of these were easy to configure through the e-mail connector. I have more than 2,000 contacts in Exchange, and these were synchronised extremely fast – I liked how WP7 gave me status updates on the progress of synchronisation too.

Windows Phone InboxUsing Google Mail, there is no support for additional features such as one-touch archiving of messages in the WP7 e-mail interface (as there is on the iPhone) and no ability to “send as” as alternative address. There was also no Google produced App for GMail either.

There’s no consolidated e-mail inbox, which I enjoyed using on the iPhone. Apparently, this feature is coming in Mango. Remember that phrase, we’ll be using it a lot.

But overall the e-mail interface was a pleasure to use. It’s clean and bright, it allows easy scrolling through messages – I happily used it day-to-day to read and reply to e-mails. My only irritation was that after replying to an e-mail, I was dropped back to my inbox – which meant if I wanted to delete the e-mail I’d replied to – I’d have to open it again to do so.

Incredibly though, there was no support for Microsoft Exchange Tasks or Notes. This was an active feature in Windows Phone 6.5, so this is a step backwards in my eyes. When I asked around about such integration, I heard a phrase that I’d become very familiar with during this experiment – “It’s coming with Mango”. Mango being the next update for WP7, due mid-September 2011. Much more on that later…

The SMS client was easy to use. It provides threaded SMS conversations, so you can easily see who said what to who and when. I didn’t find any way of forwarding SMS’s to new recipients though, and deleting all the messages from certain recipients (in my case, Spam SMS) left their details on the SMS screen but with zero messages underneath. Odd.

The Calendar was decent, and it was nice to have my upcoming appointments shown on the Home screen – a feature badly missing from my iPhone. No ability to categorise Calendar appointments as say, personal or business though – a feature WinMo 6.5 again used. There was the ability to flag Appointments as “Private” though, which I use a lot.

My two favourite features of WP7 were the physical “Back” and “Search” buttons.

The Back button allows you to step backwards through the last applications you used. So if you’re reading a web-page and an SMS comes in, you can read the SMS, then press the back button to return to your web-page. At least, you could if WP7 supported multi-tasking – which to my amazement, it didn’t. Well, not for every application anyway. Many of the “native” applications, like E-Mail, Contacts and Web Browsing *did* support multi-tasking. But many others, like Twitter and Facebook, didn’t – so if you were reading Facebook and then read an SMS that came in, when you wanted to return to Facebook you’d have to load the application from scratch.

When I asked around as to why multi-tasking wasn’t supported, the answer I got was, surprise, surprise, “It’s coming in Mango”.

The Search button is context sensitive, so if you press it from the home screen it’ll pop up a Bing web search box. If you hit the Search button in the Contacts screen, it’ll allow you to search all your contacts. Use it within Marketplace, and you can search for Apps. Very useful.

Windows Phone 7 is quick in use. I saw no lags at any time, and no applications crashing either.

At this point I’d been happy to use WP7 but had seen no “WOW!” features. The closest I got to this was the Speech Recognition. Press and hold the Start button, and after a few seconds you’ll be prompted to speak. Say something like “Call Richard Tubb, Mobile” or “Open Facebook”, and low and behold WP7 will action your request. I was pleasantly surprised to find this worked for all my contacts, and all my applications – even 3rd party installed apps – regardless of how unusual the name was. Very impressive indeed!

There is integration with Xbox Live from WP7, which I was looking forward to seeing. Sadly, I was distinctly underwhelmed. Apart from my Xbox 360 avatar and contact list appearing on my ‘phone – I couldn’t see what was cool about it. I’m told there are games that you can carry from your Xbox to WP7, but I asked around and nobody had used them. The games I did play were fun, but I didn’t see much evidence of being able to share the gaming experience with friends. Clearly, I didn’t “get it” – but I’d be open to taking a second look if somebody could help me to understand the features.

Windows Phone Lock-ScreenThe music player aspect of WP7 is very good, it just works and works well. I liked that when playing a tune and locking the ‘phone, the Lock Screen allowed you to pause or resume the tune and adjust the volume. Neat.

Talking of the lock screen, I loved it! As well as displaying my next calendar appointment, at a glance it showed me how many outstanding e-mails and SMS I had.

There are some lovely integration surprises throughout WP7. For instance, the camera (which was excellent on the HTC Pro 7, and had a Hard Key to wake up the camera and take shots) is connected to Windows Live Skydrive, so you can upload snaps to store in the Cloud, and keep private, share with certain friends or everyone. There is also integration for photos to send directly to Flickr, or e-mail. There was Facebook upload support too, but I never got it to work – but this was easily circumvented by using a Facebook e-mail upload.

Whereas the iPhone requires you to open specific apps to get to information, with WP7 you had access to information through multiple avenues. I like this a lot. An example would be that Contact entries show the person’s latest Facebook status update (Twitter integration coming in, you guessed it, Mango) their FB photos and a link to Bing Maps to their home or work address.

Bing LogoThat’s twice you’ve heard me mention Bing now. It’s no surprise that Microsoft have made their own search engine the default for WP7, but I saw no way of changing this to another Search engine of your choice. If you don’t care for Bing, WP7 isn’t for you.

Likewise, I’ve mentioned Windows Live Skydrive but there is no support for Windows Live Mesh (that I’m aware of) and to use Dropbox requires a Paid-For 3rd Party App. For this test, I found myself having to e-mail myself certain files to get them on the WP7. Yuck.

Which leads us onto the sticky (and I’d find out, emotive) subject of Apps.

I’m of the belief that nowadays, a Smartphone without Apps is merely an expensive Mobile ‘Phone. 3rd Party Apps make a device so much more than just a ‘phone – and it’s this feature that makes so many people fall in love with Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android O/S.

The good news is – the WP7 Marketplace is a vast, vast improvement over WinMo 6.5 – for a start it has a good variety of apps, and they are much easier to find.

Microsoft are very proud of the fact that the Windows Phone 7 platform got to 25,000 Apps faster than Apple’s iOS, and twice as fast as Android.

The trouble is, WP7 is still a distant 4th behind iOS, Android and even Blackberry in the minds of 3rd party app creators.

Skype LogoThis statement is going to open up an absolute storm of protest from Windows Phone fans, but I’d argue it’s true. There is no Skype, many of the popular Zynga Casual Games (such as Words with Friends) are not available on WP7. The Time Out travel guides can’t be found. The Trainline and Laterooms app isn’t available. I could go on. This isn’t an iPhone vs WP7 comparison, but it’s undeniable that many, many of the 3rd Party Apps that made me fall in love with the iPhone and overlook its failings were not available on WP7.

The fact is, there are simply not as many apps as iOS and Android, and the apps that are available feel more expensive. The abundance of free and 79p apps on iOS make it more likely you’ll explore new apps. Games and apps on WP7 marketplace tend to be £3 and upwards. This price difference made me reluctant to casually buy interesting looking apps as I would on iOS. That said, there are a lot of “try before you buy” trial options for Apps – but I’d still argue apps are overpriced compared to iOS and Android.

It’s at this point that my fun with Windows Phone stopped. I’d decided that it was a functional but unspectacular device. If I was marooned on a Desert Island (that inexplicably had Wi-Fi available) then I’d happily live out my days with WP7 as it does everything I need a business device to do, but none of the exciting stuff that my consumer facing iPhone friends had.

I missed my Apps, badly. I got bored of WP7. I put it down, and found my hand creeping to the iPhone. I couldn’t go without my apps for a fortnight.

For a few days during this experiment, I’m ashamed to say I returned to my iPhone to get my fix of all the stuff I was missing on WP7.

If this was a movie, I’d fade the screen to black at this point…

… before the black screen brightens again and you see me using a Mobile Phone, and it is a Windows Phone 7 device!

Determined that I wasn’t giving WP7 a fair shake of the stick, I sought out advice from the very passionate Windows Phone 7 community (My thanks to Andy Parkes, Richard Gibbons and the many other folks in the Windows Phone 7 Community who helped me get to grips with WP7! I appreciate your help!)

To my surprise, I was pointed in the direction of a plethora of Apps that would help me make more of WP7.

imageI found 7PassFree, for my KeePass Password management. MoTweets for my Twitter use. BBC News Mobile (a 3rd Party app, not affiliated with BBC News). Last FM for music. Poynt and Yelp for location services. Graphic.ly and the DC Comic book reader. An Amazon Kindle e-book reader. FlashCards for learning from, and many games such as Pac-Man DX, Pro-Evolution Soccer 2011 and others.

My Smartphone became Smart again. I could use it to do more than make calls, browse the web and read e-mails. I could use it to do all that consumer stuff that has become so important to me nowadays.

I even used it to fire off an e-mail to my friends at Staffordshire University asking if I could possibly keep their handset for another week or so to do some more testing!

My conclusion with Windows Phone 7 is that it’s a great platform which I could see myself using, but it needs to mature. Ask any WP7 fan and they’ll argue that the iPhone and Android went through these same troubles (lack of multi-tasking, lack of 3rd party apps) before they fixed them – but my response to that would be. Yes, they’ve fixed them. They are fixed. Am I supposed to cut Microsoft, a behemoth of IT, slack because they were late getting to the party?

If I had a straight choice between an iPhone and a Windows Phone 7 device today – right now – then I’d be hard pressed not to choose iPhone.

imageHowever… that phrase “It’s coming in Mango” does have some merit to it. Many of the 3rd Party App developers I’ve spoken to have promised versions of their apps when Mango arrives. Mango will fix the multi-tasking issue, and add Twitter integration. Mango adds MS Exchange Tasks and Notes support. Mango brings some *very* cool Speech Integration tools with it. What’s more, Mango has been RTM (Released to Manufacturing) and so should make it to the market by mid-September 2011.

Today though, here and now – I couldn’t see myself using WP7 over iPhone (and I suspect, Android – which I’m testing next). It’d just be too frustrating.

I’d be very interested in getting hold of a Mango device when they are released and then using it in anger. A Samsung Omnia or another thinner, lighter, sexier Windows Phone may improve my view of WP7 further – I’ve simply no need for the HTC Pro and it’s bulky QWERTY keyboard.

I suspect, I *strongly* suspect – that if I did this experiment again in 3 to 6 months time, once Mango has been released, I’d end up saying Windows Phone 7 would be my platform of choice.

But I’ve still got an Android handset to play with. Thoughts on that coming soon!

 

How Smartphone Users See Each Other

I’ve had a ton of feedback from iPhone, Android and Windows Phone fans about my blog post on my Mobile Phone experiment.

I was wrong when I said that this reminded me of the days of the Atari vs Commodore “format wars”. This is much more intense! People are *really* passionate about their mobile ‘phone O/S of choice!

Alistair Forbes, General Manager at GFI Max sent me this cartoon (courtesy of www.csectioncomics.com) which I think sums up what people really think of other Smartphone users! Smile

 

How Smartphone Users See Each Other

 

For what it’s worth – two days in to the first phone of the experiment (an iPhone) and I’m *loving* the wide variety of apps, but am getting irritated by the flaky Bluetooth support and relatively poor battery life. More soon…

 

Microsoft to kill off Windows Mobile 6.5 Services


Microsoft Windows Mobile LogoI wrote earlier this year about my decision to stick with the Windows Mobile 6.5 platform for the short-term. It serves my purpose, and I’ve no been compelled to upgrade.

Well, the writing is now very much on the wall as Microsoft have started retiring WinMo 6.5 services. Yesterday, I received this letter from Microsoft:-

“Shut-down of Windows Marketplace for Mobile Web Site and My Phone Service Notification

June 8, 2011

Dear Windows Mobile 6.x customer:

Microsoft will be discontinuing the My Phone service for Windows Mobile 6.x. We will also be discontinuing the Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site. Because you may be affected, please review the details below:

Windows Marketplace for Mobile Web Site To Be Discontinued

The Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site at http://marketplace.windowsphone.com will no longer be available starting on July 15, 2011. After July 15, 2011, you will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications for Windows Mobile 6.x phones via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site.

The Windows Marketplace for Mobile service will continue to be available on your phone, however. You will continue to be able to browse, buy and download applications for Windows Mobile 6.x on your phone.

My Phone To Be Discontinued

On August 7, 2011, the My Phone service will stop saving content from phones to the My Phone service. If you rely on the My Phone service to back-up the content on your Windows Mobile 6.x phone, you will be affected.

Starting on August 7, 2011, Microsoft will begin moving your My Phone content to Windows Live SkyDrive. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s free online storage service that helps you access and share your files such as photos and Microsoft Office documents. Contacts, calendar entries, text messages and photos will be moved to SkyDrive for you. Once moved, you will be able to access this content by logging into SkyDrive using the Windows Live ID that you used to register for the My Phone service.

Other content types, including videos, music, documents and favorites will not be moved from My Phone to SkyDrive for you. If you want this content, you must save it from the My Phone service to your local PC.

On October 6, 2011, the My Phone web site at http://www.microsoft.com/myphone will no longer be available. On this date, you will no longer be able to log in to the My Phone service to access your content stored to the My Phone service. Microsoft will continue to store your My Phone content for one (1) year. Physical copies of your content can be shipped to you upon request until October 5, 2012.

Take Action

To learn more about the My Phone service shut-down, including information about your content moving to Windows Live SkyDrive and how to save other content to your local PC, please visit this web site:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2557520

Microsoft is committed to making this transition easy. In the meantime, we want to sincerely thank you for your use of Windows Mobile 6.x.
-The Windows Phone Team”

Well – Windows Mobile Marketplace I won’t miss at all. It was woeful, and only had a few hundred apps – you were always better off using Handango or similar sites to find new apps.

Microsoft MyPhone I actively used, but thankfully won’t miss thanks to using the awesome free Lookout Mobile Security – which does the same job, only better.

So if I won’t miss those services, why the irritation?

I guess because in both cases, it’s disappointing that Microsoft have pulled these services when there are plenty of WinMo 6.5 users still actively using them.

My own WinMo 6.5 handset, a HTC HD2, is only just out of contract – and I know many others who have similar handsets and are still under contract to their Mobile Network Operator and so unable to upgrade to newer devices and Operating Systems.

I am, of course, not surprised by this move and indeed I understand that Windows Phone is now very much Microsoft’s focus, but in my opinion this sort of move doesn’t engender loyalty or trust.

I’m also a little bit sad that after so many years using the Windows Mobile platform, that my next ‘phone will more than likely be a non-Microsoft O/S.


5 awesome Windows Mobile 6.5 Apps you may not be using


Windows Mobile LogoIn my last blog post, I wrote about my intention to stick with the Windows Mobile 6.5 platform on my HTC HD2 mobile phone for a while yet. Yes, I know the end is nigh and WinMo 6.5 is a dead O/S – but if there isn’t a compelling reason to move to another platform yet, why change for the sake of change?

It appears I’m not alone, as I received more than a few Tweets and messages from other Windows Mobile 6.5 users who are doing the same and not upgrading until they feel compelled to do so.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few apps for WinMo 6.5 that I’ve stumbled upon in the past few months and which have made my day-to-day Windows Mobile 6.5 experience even better.

moTweets

Screenshot of moTweetsFor accessing the Social Networking site Twitter, HTC’s in-built “Peep” application for the HD2 is fine. But I’ve noticed it slows down the ‘phone when running scheduled updates from Twitter, and is none too rich in the features department. Panoramic Soft’s moTweets is a vastly superior Twitter interface. There is a free version, supported by advertisements, and an Ad-Free version which is only a few pounds in cost.

Featuring an efficient interface that is easy to use and customise, moTweets supports multiple Twitter accounts, support for URL shorteners (such as Bit.ly and TinyURL), uploading media such as pictures and videos, geo-tagging Tweets with GPS co-ordinates, and providing easily searchable Twitter topics, users and lists.

I love the way that moTweets touch-screen interface allows you to access all the relevant info within a Tweet (Users, URL links, Hashtags, etc) simply and easily.

I couldn’t live without moTweets now – and if you’re a WinMo 6.5 Twitter user who is not using it, I’d urge you to try it out!

 

Opera 10

Opera 10 ScreenshotThe HTC HD2 comes with both Internet Explorer mobile and the Opera 9 web-browsers as standard. Both are fine browsers, but for the best browser experience on WinMo 6.5, why not download and install the feature rich and free Opera Mobile 10 browser?

Featuring a much slicker and faster interface than IE or Opera 9, with a “Speed-Dial” home page, I’ve found Opera 10 simply a great browser to use. With multiple (and easily navigable) tabs for web-browsing, and a feature to compress downloads (useful if browsing whilst outside your standard data tariff, say, whilst roaming abroad) it feels clean and snappy in use.

It also has a feature to synchronise settings (including open pages, speed-dials and search engines) between Opera on different phones and on your Desktop PC.

There are a lot of other features worth investigating too – but suffice to say, once you download and start using it, you’ll not look back.

 

Sprite Terminator / Lookout Mobile Security

A bit of a cheat here – as I suggest two apps with a common theme.

Sprite Terminator ScreenshotThe first – Sprite Terminator – I’ve been using on my Windows Mobile devices for many years. Costing just a few dollars, very simple to setup, and unobtrusive whilst running, Terminator runs in the background on your WinMo 6.5 device and stays quiet until you need it.

If you lose your ‘phone, or worse, it gets stolen – Sprite Terminator comes into its own. From any paired ‘phone (you can either set Sprite Terminator to accept SMS from any phone, or specific pre-paired and trusted phone numbers) you can send your ‘phone a specially worded SMS message containing a specified password and a command, and without the ‘phone acknowledging it has received an SMS (you’ll hear no beep and it won’t show on-screen) you will receive an SMS message back with a URL link to Google Maps with the latest GPS location of the ‘phone, a list of recent calls the ‘phone has made, or you can remotely lock or even wipe the ‘phone via SMS. Very powerful indeed!


In the same vein, but with a slightly more friendly web-interface for owners and a richer feature list, Lookout Mobile Security provides a free version that installs on your WinMo 6.5 device and then runs quietly in the background. Providing protection from Viruses, Malware and dodgy app, Lookout Mobile Security also provides a backup feature – regularly backing up the contents (Call List, Pictures, Videos, SMS – just about everything) of your ‘phone to a secure web-storage facility.

Lookout Mobile Security ScreenshotJust like Sprite Terminator, if you lose your ‘phone then via the Lookout Web site you can send a request to locate it via the ‘phones GPS function. Once you’ve found the device, there are two very cool features.

The first is Remote Wipe – effectively nuking your device to protect the valuable and confidential stored data. Some users of Microsoft Exchange will already be familiar with this feature.

The second is SCREAM! If you suspect your ‘phone has been stolen, you can send a remote command that once received by your ‘phone, causes it to emit a full volume high pitched screaming sound that will un-nerve the thief and cause more than a few stares. Smile

Personally, I run both Sprite Terminator and Lookout Mobile Security on my HTC HD2. I’ve noticed no performance reduction in doing so, and they give me peace of mind should I ever lose or have my HD2 stolen.

 

File Explorer Extension

File Explorer Extension ScreenshotsA small free app from Japan, but one that once installed, you’ll be stunned you managed to live without it!

File Explorer Extension does what it says on the tin and extends the File Explorer included with Windows Mobile 6.5 to includes some very cool features that you’re left scratching your head as to why they weren’t included in the O/S originally.

For instance, it allows you to open files with a specific application – great for occasions when you want to study a .HTML files code within Notepad, for instance.

There is a picture preview function, you can view the properties of a file, there is an improved explorer interface, the ability to easily copy and move files between folders – basically, all the things you’re used to doing on a Desktop PC, but are inexplicably missing from Windows Mobile’s native file explorer.

A no-brainer install – go do it!

 

MagiCall

MagiCall Screen shotHave you ever wanted to filter unwanted telephone calls or SMS to your mobile phone from certain people or organisations? If you ‘phone your network provider, they may tell you it’s impossible, or that they can do it for a certain ridiculous fee. MagiCall from Mobiion allows you to create a smart rule-based filter to block unwanted callers and SMS.

It’s hardly the most intuitive of interfaces, but it is very powerful! You can setup filters by specific telephone number or contact, performing a number of actions if this specified number calls or sends you an SMS.

For instance you could program the number of a nuisance caller, and anytime that person rings you – your ‘phone answers and then drops the call, all without being displayed on the screen of your ‘phone. Or you could give the caller a busy signal, or send them straight to voicemail without your device ringing.

For SMS, you could mark the SMS and read and move it to a different folder. Or delete it. Or reply back with pre-defined text. Basically, a number of different ways to deal with calls and SMS, from both wanted and unwanted callers.

As well as specified numbers, you can use it to block “Number Withheld” or “No Number” for those irritating overseas call centres calls.

There is a logging feature so you can check activity later if you choose, or in the case of malicious calls or SMS, just make them “go away”.

There is a 10-day trial of MagiCall and it costs $24.95 to buy. The first time it saves you being bothered by an unwanted call, it’s money well spent!

 

**

So there you have it – five (ok, six…) apps that I use on my Windows Mobile 6.5 device and which I think are very cool!

As a final note, and if you’re a HTC HD2 owner like myself, I have to point out the XDA Developers Forum which has a number of sub-forums with amazing advice and guidance for HD2 owners. I’d particularly draw your attention to the “Boost Performance Tips” thread, which contains a load of really effective tweaks for WinMo 6.5 such as increasing the number of tabs the Opera web-browser allows, enabling the HD2 to turn on Bluetooth automatically when connected to a car charger, and many others. Check it out!

 


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