Friday, November 21, 2008

AT&T HTC Fuze Review (Software Part II)

Author's note: If you find this article useful, show me some love and leave a comment at the bottom.

Update 11/26/08: Since posting this, many of the tweaks have been incorporated into programs or stand-alone cab files. One of the most comprehensive lists is here (link to XDA).

This is the third in a three part review of the AT&T HTC Fuze, based on the HTC Touch Pro. Part 1 was a review of the hardware. Part 2 was a review of TouchFLO 3D and included software. This review will include must-have third party applications and useful tweaks.

One of the reasons to have a PDA phone is to be able to add custom software. With that in mind, let me tell you about some of my must-have software. The best part about this list is that, despite having paid $350 for the privilege of taking this phone out of the AT&T store, I’m married cheap. All of the software on this list is FREE.

[Side note: Many of these downloads are .CAB files. To install them, copy the CAB file to your phone then tap on it using a file explorer. The phone knows what to do with the file and will walk you through the process.]

Microsoft .Net Compact Framework 3.5 – Unfortunate as it may be, much of the software you can download for your WinMo device requires this.

HandyShopper is a shopping list program originally developed for the Palm OS but has been quite successfully ported to Windows Mobile. It is extremely flexible and configurable so that you can have multiple databases and can use it for much more than just shopping lists. An entire community of users exists for this software and many of them have shared their custom databases. Its only shortcoming is that it pretty much requires a touch screen.

Google Maps on the mobile platform takes on an entirely new dimension. Even without a GPS receiver, GMaps can give you an approximation of your current location based upon which cell phone tower you are connected to. Add the GPS and it comes very close to turning your phone into a navigation system. Honestly, if GMaps was available with audible directions I would be willing to pay for a premium version – hint hint.

Windows Live Search Mobile (If you're browsing on your mobile, visit For once, there is a Microsoft product done RIGHT. This little gem allows you to literally tell it what you are searching for and where to search for it. Just press the speak button and say, “Chinese restaurants in Naperville, Illinois,” and it will give you a list of exactly what you asked for. Tap one of the entries and locate it on the map. It’s a fun trick to show friends at parties, too.

Tipster is a tip calculator. Maybe there are better products for this but this one is simple and it works. Type in your bill amount and it automatically calculates a 15% tip. Tap in the proper locations and you can increase the tip amount or even split the check.

I originally had a replacement weather app loaded on my phone but later found a tweak to add cities to the Weather tab, making this unnecessary.

GPSToday by GeoTerrestrial is a multi-talented program that a friend turned me on to that makes solid use of that GPS receiver in your phone. It is designed as a Today Screen plugin but can also be downloaded as a stand-alone app (for those of us that want to continue using TF3D). The GPSToday screen shows your coordinate position, closest address (essentially, the address where you are), the name of the contact closest to you (based on address), and current weather conditions. It also comes with tools that allow you to log your movements (haven’t figured out how to use the data yet but it’s cool), geotag pictures, and email your location information. You can also do location-based search and it has a compass and map view. It really makes having a GPS in your phone worthwhile.

LightSaber is useful for… well… nothing. It’s just a nifty app that shows off the accelerometer. It makes light saber noises as you swing your phone through the air.

Diamond TF3D Config (also available here) allows you to tweak the TouchFLO 3D interface. Among its many options is rearranging tab order or disabling tabs, installing themes so you can change the colors of the TF3D interface (I’m getting used to the grey so I didn’t use this), and customizing your date format. You can also enable some of the registry tweaks floating around such as boosting TouchFLO performance (all 4 that are currently seen on various message boards). And it has a handy section for rearranging the order of shortcuts on the program launcher. You can even, apparently, add your own tweaks to the program.

Diamond Tweak. I just learned about this one as I was finishing up this article. It is written by the same people who brought you Kaiser Tweak for the 8525/Tilt. It includes a HUGE multitude of tweaks and even enables scrolling using the D-Pad (swirling your finger around the center button) in several applications (individually selectable, requires a restart). It also allows you to easily disable the obnoxious startup sound. I literally just installed this so I don’t have the full skinny on it but so far it looks GREAT.

Update 11/26: A third configuration tool that is often recommended is Schap's Advanced Configuration.

Total Commander looks like a file explorer replacement but it also allows you to edit the registry and view files and locations that are otherwise hidden.

Why is it that Microsoft has not seen fit to update the graphics for the calculator application? It looks like a reject from Windows 3.1. The appearance of the built-in calculator app is the only reason I have installed a calculator replacement (I’m using MyCalculator but there are several others, even some specialized calculators).

My Mobiler is an absolute MUST for any tweaker. With My Mobiler, when your WinMo phone is connected to your computer via USB, you can open up a window to view and interact with your WinMo device. If that’s not enough you can also take screen captures and avi movies. The movies don’t work so well but all of the screen captures in this article were created using My Mobiler.
If you read any of the forums related to this phone (or any smart phone, for that matter), it’s never exactly the way you want it when it comes out of the box. Half the fun of having a smart phone is being able to personalize it… and boy can you personalize this thing. Here are some of my favorite tweaks (I try not to call them hacks but you can if you want to).

In their grand wisdom, AT&T removed the YouTube application that is part of the preinstalled software from HTC. Okay, they didn’t so much as remove it as they removed it from the program launcher. The application is still there, you just have to go find it. You can restore the YouTube application by using Total Commander to copy the link (YouTube.lnk) from the Windows folder into the Start Menu folder or the Programs folder, depending on where you want it to appear. Yeah, it’s that simple.

The threaded view for text messaging is really nice but they only give you space for to view one line of your text entry when replying. You can get more lines for text messaging simply by editing a file in the Windows folder using Total Commander.

While I was writing this article, someone figured out a way to add a city to the weather tab. It’s a small program that edits the file the weather app looks at. You just have to know the Accuweather code for the city you want to add. For US cities it’s simply NAMUSSTCITYNAME. For instance, to add Stillwater, OK, I used the code NAMUSOKSTILLWATER.

Tweaks I have enabled with the use of TF3D config:

  • Rearrange tab order
  • Rearrange programs on quick launch (as needed)
  • TouchFlo Performance 1, 2 & 4
  • Adjust date format
Tweaks I have enabled with the use of Diamond Tweak:

  • Disable fast sleep during calls (not sure how well this works)
  • Disable light sensor during calls (not sure about this one, either)
  • Ring without delay on incoming calls
    • I eventually disabled this one because it was causing the phone to vibrate and ring before the Caller ID could even pick up who was calling
  • Disable 100db sound limitation
  • Set phone sound volume to high (default is medium - not sure what it did)
  • Increase Bluetooth sample rate to 48000 (supposedly increases quality)
  • Disable startup sound
    • Now it just gives my a short beep instead of that OBNOXIOUS jet plane noise
  • Boost TF3D scrolling speed
  • Remapped the right soft key on the home screen to launch the camera
    • You can remap the left key, too
    • I have since changed this back to the default
  • Enable ClearType in landscape mode
  • Enabled touch sensitive wheel in calendar, call history, contacts, file explorer, programs, phone and Diamond Tweak
  • Turned off automatic display of the on-screen keyboard (not sure if this one is working)

I told you there were a lot of them. And there are a lot more in the list.

Registry Tweaks

Most of the registry tweaks you can use are listed here. Several of them are covered by Diamond TF3D Config and Diamond Tweak. The following are ones that I did on my own:

[NOTE: To edit the registry, open Total Commander and type \\\ into the address bar to see the Registry folder]

There are also a few more tweaks that I know about but haven’t implemented because, frankly, I either don’t need them or don’t care about them.

Enable the FM tuner – Requires having wired headphones plugged in. It uses the wire as the antenna.

Remap the PTT button - I will probably do this one at some point but I just don’t want to go through that much work right now. For the time being, the Body Glove snap on case I bought causes all of the buttons to be recessed so there is little chance of accidental activation.

POP/IMAP hotfix? – I honestly have no idea what this fixes.

Tethering – Apparently, tethering does not function properly, even though the sharing option is right there on the surface. I do not have a tethering plan and do not plan to tether my device so I’m just not going to mess with it.

There is a lot more software out there and a lot more tweaks that currently exist or that people will discover. If you know of any cool software (especially freeware) or useful tweaks not covered here, please feel free to leave a comment.

Update 11/24: I have yet to find any tweak, hack or program that keeps the display from shutting off while you're on a phone call.

Update 11/26/08: Since posting this, many of the tweaks have been incorporated into programs or stand-alone cab files. One of the most comprehensive lists is here (link to XDA).

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