Useful applications to install

In the previous post, I mentioned how and where to obtain a Developer’s Certificate for your N8. This allows you to install any unsigned application downloaded from the Internet that was developed for the Symbian (S60v5 or ^3) platform. Hence, the number of applications that can potentially be installed on the N8 has increased substantially. Applications which I have found useful (and worth checking out) are mentioned next.

JbakTaskMan – An unsigned, but powerful task manager developed by Juriy Bakunin. Once installed, this application auto-runs and is triggered by a long (2 second) press of the menu key:

  • Provides up to 24 customizable quick launch buttons for applications, documents, phone numbers, SMSs and e-mails. Tip: I have added all the programs useful for managing the phone such as the App Manager, Themes, USB, WLAN Wizard, Settings, Smart Installer and Device Updates.
  • List of all applications installed on your N8 with a quick search by name to run.
  • Amount of memory each running task is using as well as a list of the capabilities used (up to 21 in total).
  • Customizable rules for each application that allow the program to auto-start, be killed when sent to the background, killed by a memory clean, control the duration and intensity of the back-light.

Some programs do not close when exited, but remain running in the background consuming the phone’s memory (or RAM). Examples include the Contacts, Calendar, Clock, Logs and Mail apps. Create a rule with JbakTaskMan to kill each of these apps when closed or when the Memory Clean function is run. Visit the developer’s website for more information or Google “JbakTaskMan review”.

Mobile Guard – A signed system utility developed by NetQin. Once installed, this application auto-runs in the background and is packed with features:

  • Single button press to send an SMS to incoming caller that you’re busy and will phone back later.
  • Call filter to blacklist and block unwanted (and frequent) callers.
  • Backup – backup (and restore) contacts to server or external microSD card (F: drive).
  • Boot Manager – list of applications which auto-run, with the option to disable.
  • Clean Spam – delete system cache files and installation logs.
  • Web Manager – keep track of monthly Internet usage as well as list of applications utilizing the phone’s GPRS/3G connection.

Although Mobile Guard has other features, I’ve mentioned only those which are very useful. The Safe Mode option, which closes all non-essential programs currently running should not be executed until all the bugs are fixed. Visit the developer’s website for more information.

ActiveFile – an unsigned file manager developed by Alie Tan. Once installed, this application provides a host of useful file browsing and system features:

  • Dual panel – file management with 2 panels (similar to Total Commander).
  • Full file management with copy, move, rename, delete, make directory, make file, file properties, and set attributes.
  • Compress and decompress file using GZIP format.
  • Modify the attributes of both files and directories.
  • Search through a folder and all sub-folders.
  • View running processes, display system information and backup SMS’s.
  • Capture screenshot and save it to a file in JPEG, GIF, BMP or PNG  format.
  • Memory monitor tool (for memory-leak detection) and battery monitor.
  • Built-in Hex Viewer and Image Viewer.

The N8 version of ActiveFile (v1.44.4) was released on the 19 January 2011. I first discovered ActiveFile two years ago when I installed it on my previous cellphone (Nokia N82). The difference in capabilities between the three versions is as follows:

  • Basic – NetworkServices, LocalServices, ReadUserData and WriteUserData.
  • Extended – as above, plus PowerMgmt, ReadDeviceData, WriteDeviceData, ProtServ, SwEvent and Location.
  • Manufacturer – as above, plus AllFiles.

The AllFiles capability allows ActiveFile to read and write to most of the phone’s system folders (excluding /sys and parts of /resource). ActiveFile has access to the /private folder which may contain sensitive information for installed apps such as saved passwords and configuration files. Hence, altering a program’s files directly can cause incorrect behaviour and in the worst case, stop the phone from working. For more information on each of the other capabilities, visit Nokia’s Forum.

I downloaded the version with Manufacturer capabilities, signed it and tried to install. The error “Requested application access not granted” occurs on installation. I then downloaded the version with Extended capabilities and signed it. This version installed with no error. This problem is easily explained as my Developer Certificate obtained from the OPDA website provides 17 of the 20 capabilities, and excludes three capabilities (AllFiles, DRM and TCB) which can only be granted by device manufacturers such as Nokia.

The sisContents PC-based utility which I use to sign Symbian^3 applications can also be used to check which capabilities are requested. Click on the Contents button and then right click on ActiveFile.exe. Select View details to list which of the 20 capabilities the program may use.

I have tested the extended version of ActiveFile and found the following bugs:

  • Options – Misc – Phone info: does not work
  • Options – Misc – Network info: does not work
  • Options – Check for updates: reports a new version is available
  • Options – About: reports last modified on 10/03/2010
  • Options – Settings – General – Ask on exit: does not confirm program exit
  • Options – Settings – Battery monitor: 1 second interval is too small, suggest 5 s
  • Options – Tools – Start battery monitor: reports -1 as level
  • Options – File utils – Find: spelling of sublfolder
  • Options – File utils – Compress: change colour of file or rename to .zip to indicate file is compressed
  • Options – File utils – Encrypt: not working as file is visible in Hex Viewer

The folders on the C: drive which are visible with ActiveFile include:

  • communities-pics
  • data (this folder only viewable with Nokia File Manager)
  • Predic
  • Ravensoft
  • resource
  • System
  • temp
  • tmp
  • Tnp (Track and Protect – location of camera images)
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