Mobile Minute news: Blackberry on Windows Mobile, free ZIP utility and more
RIM announces BlackBerry software for Windows Mobile
BlackBerry makers Research in Motion have announced plans to create a program that brings Blackberry software and services to devices running Windows Mobile 6.
The software will include email, phone, calendar, address book, tasks, memos, browser, instant messenger, and other applications developed to run on BlackBerries. Since the application will work like any other third-party Windows Mobile program, showing up on your screen as an icon you click to launch the suite, you'll be able to flip back and forth between the Windows Mobile calendar/email etc and the Blackberry suite.
The new program will enable push email on Windows Mobile devices (something you can already get for free through emoze), and allow companies to deploy software that will run either on BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices. You'll also have a more input methods than on a traditional BlackBerry, with support for QWERTY keyboards, 5-way navigation buttons, or stylus support.
Free ZIP utility
Windows Mobile developers CNetX have released ezyUnZip, a free program for viewing and extracting the contents of ZIP files. Since there's limited storage space on most PDAs, it's handy to be able to carry some documents around in a ZIP file to save space.
This isn't a full featured compression utility though. It's just for viewing files. If you want a program that lets you create ZIP files on your PDA, CNetX sells HandyZIP for $20.
If that seems a bit steep, you can also check out WinRAR 3.60 for Pocket PC, which is free, as is Total Commander, a file explorer program with the ability to create and extract ZIP files.
HTC to offer free Windows Mobile 6 upgrades
Jason Langridge reports that PDA manufacturer HTC has promised to offer free upgrades from Windows Mobile 5.0 to Windows Mobile 6 for their messaging based devices. That includes the HTC Advantage, the HTC TyTN, the HTC S620, the HTC P4350, and the HTC P3300.
Updates should be available from the HTC website starting later this month.
Vito releases AstroNavigator II
Vito Technology's AstroNavigator II is a Windows Mobile GPS application that looks up at the stars instead of down at the roads. While this might seem a lot less useful than most GPS applications, it's also a lot cheaper, at about $20.
The program shows a map of the sky above you according to your current position, time, and direction of movement.
There's information about each star and planet, which you can access by tapping or sliding your stylus across the screen.
SoftMaker working on new Office applications
The market for mobile Office applications is a lot hotter than it was a few years ago. While most users agree that Microsoft has skimped on the mobile versions of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, the company has added some improvements in Windows Mobile 6.
Still, it was rather exciting when DataViz decided to port its popular Palm office suite Documents to Go to Windows Mobile.
Now it looks like one of the best known 3rd party office suites is getting a few updates. SoftMaker already has full-featured word processing and spreadsheet applications for Windows Mobile. Now the company is working on a presentation application, a database program, and a macro and scripting application.
SoftMaker also recently added a photo optimizing program to its lineup.
PocketPCScreens.com is probably the easiest service I've ever seen for creating Today Screen themes for a Windows Mobile device. While there are any number of web pages with Today Screen backgrounds sorted by category, PocketPCScreens lets you choose a picture, adjust the colors, and determine whether you need a 640x480 or 320x240 theme all online.
There's a great selection of images covering everything from abstract computer-generated art to celebrity photos. When you're done adjusting the colors, you click "Download Theme," and the website will generate a custom theme for you to download. All you have to do is save the resulting .TSK file to the My Documents folder on your device, browse to Settings/Today and select your new theme.
To save space on your device, you might want to think about creating a My Documents folder on your storage card and placing the .TSK file in it.