Mobile software Monday: Handy Tools Pack for S60 devices

Summary:I am working on getting Mobile software Monday reviews up and running here again on my ZDNet blog, but there are so many devices coming in that it is tough to find the time to write about all the great software titles. The Nokia E71 (see my full review) is where my AT&T SIM card can be found sharing time with my Palm Treo Pro and I truly enjoy using this mobile device. I was looking for an easy way to switch between applications rather than having to go back to the standby screen or into the main menu area and a few people recommended I check out Handy TaskMan from Paragon Software Group. While looking for this utility, I discovered the Handy Tools Pack for S60 3rd Edition devices that includes 11 titles in one package for US$129.95 (savings of 49% if you bought them all separately).

I am working on getting Mobile software Monday reviews up and running here again on my ZDNet blog, but there are so many devices coming in that it is tough to find the time to write about all the great software titles. The Nokia E71 (see my full review) is where my AT&T SIM card can be found sharing time with my Palm Treo Pro and I truly enjoy using this mobile device. I was looking for an easy way to switch between applications rather than having to go back to the standby screen or into the main menu area and a few people recommended I check out Handy TaskMan from Paragon Software Group. While looking for this utility, I discovered the Handy Tools Pack for S60 3rd Edition devices that includes 11 titles in one package for US$129.95 (savings of 49% if you bought them all separately). There were a few I decided to skip that I didn't find particularly necessary for my needs or desires at this time, but I'll cover 7 of them in further detail with screenshots in my image gallery and most shown in my YouTube video.


 Image Gallery:The Nokia E71 is a great device and I enjoyed trying out the Handy Tools Pack of software applications. 
Image Gallery: Handy Calendar
 
Image Gallery: Handy Taskman
 

11 utilities in the Handy Tools Pack: The following are the 11 utilities found in the Handy Tools Pack, along with their individual prices:

  • Handy Calendar, $39.95
  • Handy Safe, $49.95
  • Handy Clock, $24.95
  • Handy Weather, $19.95
  • Handy Blacklist, $24.95
  • Handy Profiles, $19.95
  • Handy Taskman, $19.95
  • Handy Expense, $14.95
  • Handy Converter, $14.95
  • Handy Calculator, $9.95
  • Handy Keylock, $5.95
  • I used all of them briefly to see what each had to offer, but the utilities I personally found useful for myself and tried out in depth were Handy Taskman, Handy Calendar, Handy Profiles, Handy Weather, Handy Keylock, Handy Converter, and Handy Alarm.

    Handy Taskman: As I mentioned earlier, this application was my main reason for taking a look at the Paragon Software offerings. You can actually pick up Handy Taskman by itself for US$24.95 and I think it is definitely worth this because it greatly improves your ability to quickly get around your device. The S60 operating system is very powerful, but with so much power comes a plethora of 3rd party application offerings so when you press the Menu key you are taken to your application area that can be overwhelming at times and take some time to get to the application you want to use. With Handy Taskman you can designate a press and hold of the Home button to launch the utility that then shows you your most recently used applications and those that are currently running (denoted by a small arrow icon).

    In this Task list you can use the Options>Lookup & start option to find applications not on the current list and launch them. Other options include closing the selected application, killing the selecting application, closing all applications, adding the selected application to your Favorites, viewing your memory details in a pop-up view, viewing the help menu, and accessing your Handy Taskman settings. Within settings you can choose the default view (task list, Favorites, or last used). The Task list can be setup to show running and recent or just running applications. Lastly, you can select what applications will be excluded from the Close all applications option. The close and kill abilities are nice options to have when you are testing lots of different software applications.

    Moving the directional pad to the right shows you a list of the Favorites that you customize for quick access. On the Favorites page you can add shortcuts to applications, contacts to initiate calls, and contacts to send text messages to. The icon next to your contact name clearly shows a phone for calls and an evelope for text messages.

    Along the right side of the display (at least on the E71 display in landscape mode) you will see the time and date, available memory on the device for storage and running programs and the availabile memory on your microSD card (if installed).

    You can also initiate the find and start function just by typing the first letters of the application you want to use. Handy Taskman is an essential application for S60 power users and I highly recommend it.

    Handy Calendar: I loaded this application and at first I was just going to remove it since the E71 already has an advanced calendar interface that shows your appointments on the right side of the month view calendar. However, after using Handy Calendar a bit more I found that it is a more powerful application and actually may be worth the price. Like the E71 S60 calendar your appointments and tasks appear on the right side of the month view calendar. However, in Handy Calendar the view looks a bit nicer and more polished.

    Using the Options menu you can enter new appointments, reminders, all day events, anniversaries, and tasks. Most of these entry screens have four tabs for the details (subject, location, time, date, etc.), alarm, notes, and recurrence. You can also change the view between month, week, day, and tasks. The Zoom options increase the font size for the text in the right panel.

    Settings include selecting your default view, viewing cycle, when the week starts, busy bar range, default alarm sound, and then ways that your month, week, day, and tasks views appear. Some of the new entry default options include setting the default time, alarm, start time, and synchronization method (public or private).

    The default calendar on the E71 is the best I have seen on S60, but even then Handy Calendar provides more functionality so if managing your calendar is important on your device you may want to give it a try.

    Handy Profiles: It is fairly easy to access profiles on your S60 device and change them with the use of the power button and directional pad. However, I often forget to switch from my standard mode to a silent/office mode when I go to work and my ringer goes off at the worst times. With Handy Profiles I discovered you can actually setup rules for profiles that automatically activate the profile based on your settings. You can also establish rules for calendar entries and locations. For calendar entries keywords are used in the subject, location, description, or anywhere to help define the rule. For locations, Handy Profiles gathers your nearest GSM cell tower information to identify the location for future rule usage.

    In the Handy Profiles settings you can specify what a short press (single) and long press (press and hold) launch on your device. You can select from Handy Profiles or your S60 Profiles menu for the short press and the same with the option to switch off for a long press.

    The functionality with the timed profiles alone is enough for me to recommend this application, but the usefulness of the other rule methods is just as useful for many people.

    Handy Weather: Unlike some areas of the country, the weather in the Pacific Northwest changes daily and can often change hourly with big differences in conditions between my home and my office (50 miles apart). I found the Handy Weather application to be one of the best I have seen on a mobile device with some excellent information provided in a nice layout. When viewing the current condition, you are given a graphic with some text that shows the general condition (cloudy, rainy, snowing) along with the daily high and low temperatures. You are also presented with the wind direction and speed, UV index, and humidity. You can move your directional pad right and left to see this information for five days (the current day and four days into the future).

    You can also view a graph of the five days with the condition icon and high/low temps, the current condition (give you pressure and visibility information), and also view a map of the weather forecast. The map view gives you a full view of temperatures around the US and Canada with the ability to go to full screen, rotate, or zoom in to certain areas. I spend most of my time viewing the weather in the default day view.

    Settings in Handy Weather let you setup when the auto updates occur (4, 8, 12, or 24 hours) and what the units of measure are that you want to see appear. You can setup what initial view you want to see when you launch the application too.

    Handy Keylock: One thing that drives me crazy about the Nokia E71 is that there doesn't seem to be an easy way to lock the keyboard quickly without having to use the power button and directional pad. Handy Keylock lets me setup an automatic lock timeout and also a quick two key press solution that lets me lock the device now with ease. I use the shift key and OK (center action button on the directional pad) buttons to activate the lock.

    For slider phones like the N95 and N96 you can also set it up to lock the buttons when you close the slide, which I actually think should be a utility that Nokia provides for these devices. Handy Keylock is a simple, but very handy utility.

    Handy Converter: I've been traveling overseas quite a bit these last couple of years and it is always helpful to have a currency converter along that helps you manage your money. Handy Converter includes a currency converter with exchange rates that can be updated to the latest figures with a wireless connection. The program also has conversion tools for clothes, length, weight, area, volume, speed, and temperature. These convesions are easy to use with drop down lists and easy to access entry fields.

    Unfortunately, you cannot customize or add any conversions in the program. I use long tons and short tons on a daily basis in my ship design job, but neither of these is available in the weight conversion utility. I actually found the program to be quite limiting for my purposes when it comes to measurement conversions since it offers just the basics. I do like it for the currency conversions, which is really its primary focus.

    Handy Clock: The default alarm utility on S60 devices is pretty basic and I was looking for something more useful and enjoyed using Handy Clock. Handy Clock gives you a World Clock (5 viewable clocks on one page), day-night map, quick calendar view, alarms, timers, stopwatch, and time log. All of these functions are quite useful and with all of my recent world travel I used the World Clock quite a bit. The day-night map looks great on the E71.

    The time log feature lets you log time spent on projects and as a project manager in my day job this capability can be quite handy. I'm not sure it is worth the individual price of US$24.95 though.

    I do think there are valid uses for the other applications, but I already use alternative methods for many of these functions. The remaining utilities include Handy Safe (electronic wallet/data management system), Handy Blacklist (block undesired callers), Handy Expense (keep track of your expenses and report on them), and Handy Calculator (better than the default calculator).

    Each application can be tried for 14 days so if anyone interests you I recommend trying before you by and think you will be quite happy with your choices.

    There is also a new product called Handy Shell that gives you 3 additional Standby screens (Today, Applications, and Contacts) and an advanced launcher. It looks a lot like a Windows Mobile Today/Home screen utility and looks to be quite functional. I downloaded the 14-day fully functional trial version to evaluate for a possible full review at a later date. It is available for US$44.95, which seems rather expensive for such an application.

Topics: Mobility, Apps, CXO, IT Employment, Software

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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