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Installing games and applications

Installing games and applications

cdrom.jpgInstalling third party applications and games is a big part of smartphones and even many normal cell phones. Yet many people don’t do it, either because they don’t know how, or they only use their provider’s options. Here I’ll attempt to describe what it takes to add software to your device and the ways to do it.

The first thing to find out is what your device supports, and then how to get the software on the phone. Java is the universal language in mobile phones. Most phones support Java applets, and most applications are thus Java based. There are some devices who do not support them, such as most BREW devices which are CDMA phones on providers such as Verizon or Sprint in the US. Also some Windows Mobile devices don’t come with Java support but that can be downloaded from Microsoft.

On top of Java, smartphones have the particularity of using a real operating system, and being able to run native applications made for their system. Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry and Palm are the most popular devices. One particularity to be careful about for native systems is the version used. For example a Symbian S60v3 application will not run on S60v2 or on Symbian UIQ.

Once you’ve found out which types of applications your device supports, then you need to figure out how to transfer the application on the device, or if you can at all. If you have a locked device that came from a cellular provider, it may be locked preventing you to install third party software. The reason they sometimes do this is to make sure you only buy software through their online store and thus get more money from you.

Now that you know you can install applications, you have a couple of options on how to transfer the file. You can use Bluetooth, a USB cable or over the air (OTA). If your phone supports Bluetooth, and you have a laptop or a USB Bluetooth dongle, then that is the easiest way. You can make a connection with the computer and beam the file over using the PC client software. If the device or computer doesn’t support Bluetooth, you can get a USB cable and use the manufacturer’s software to transfer the file. Note that this can be a much harder option, and varies considerably between manufacturers. Also some manufacturers don’t make their client software freely available.

If local transfer modes fail, you can always install it directly from the phone as long as you have mobile web access. Note that this will cost you data usage unless you have an unlimited data plan. Simply go to the web site containing the application you want, or save the file on your computer then upload it to one of the many free online hosting sites, then download it from the phone mobile browser. The device should detect it and offer you to install.

Finding out how to install third party software can be tricky at first but is very easy once you know how. A last piece of advice would be to not download from untrusted sites, as it may contain viruses or pirated software. Here is a list of some popular software sites:

  • GetJar – Free and commercial Java software
  • Handango – Commercial software for Palm, Symbian, Blackberry and WM
  • PocketGear – Commercial Windows Mobile software
  • All About Symbian – Free and commercial Symbian software