Having spent a week with a Pocket PC, I've been awoken to the realisation that there are a lot of hacks and applications that both Pocket PC and Palm users end up installing to improve their device. I also discovered myself without a clue of what I needed to make the Pocket PC that little bit nicer, a shocking glimpse back to the days when I unwrapped my first Palm and thought Well, this looks a bit dull, doesn't it?.
Luckily, those days are long past, but the least I can do is share some of my dubious wisdom with everyone. So what follows are a collection of applications I either use, or have used, on my Palm. Some I've thrown aside as they haven't fitted into my various processes I'm sure others will find them more than satisfactory, and likely complain about my own choices.
So, let's start with the launcher. The default Palm launcher is very basic, especially when it comes to expansion card support. Luckily, we've plenty of choices to fix this. My favourite is LauncherX, descendant of Launcher III, by the late Bozidar Benc. It was a product that came late to completion, and indeed was for awhile considered the Palm equivalent of Team Fortress 2, but it makes up for it by being fast, rock solid and a pleasure to use. Applications from your expansion card can be mixed in with everything else, the interface becomes drag-and-drop and there are plenty of customisation options.
Along the same lines we have 42086 Zlauncher, 10003 MegaLauncher, the venerable 8363 SilverScreen and the more task based 35019 Facer. Zlauncher certainly gets a lot of good press, and they all have trial versions available, so don't be shy about trying them.
In one fell swoop you've made your Palm (or your precious for our PalmAddict visitors) both look nicer and work nicer. Unless you're using a Tungsten T or T2. You poor souls will still have to dropping your slider for every little thing but not for long. Graffiti Anywhere will not only let you write anywhere on the screen, but it's free as well! Top that off with a program to allow you to access the silkscreen buttons such as SlideFree or 77962 SilkScreen. These both cost a small amount, but it's well worth it.
For many people the built in Calendar/Datebook and Contacts/Address Book are quite satisfactory. The major complaint is that they won't let you link items, for instance linking a contact to an account. You can either replace the applications, or use 78621 Relate. For those who want something new, the favourites are 1260 Agendus for the contact oriented people, and 31047 DateBk5, for those who prefer tasks. Once again, trials are available, so make sure you find what works best for you.
File management is something that Palm seem to ignore, despite the fact expansion cards make it very necessary. While some of the launchers (such as LauncherX) have a built in file manager, you might want something a bit more powerful. 15939 Filez is basic but free. If you want more, give 99024 MegaCom or 22921 McFile a try.
Unless you're a member of the RIAA, you're probably keen to play some music on your toy as well. RealPlayer is... adequate. And that's being nice. Luckily, there's a couple of skinnable options with Ogg support. 50657 AeroPlayer is solid and has no time limit on the trial if you use Oggs, but the player of choice appears to be 49377 PocketTunes. It has streaming support, takes advantage of virtual graffiti, lovely skins and there's a promise of WMA support in the not too distant.What's not to like?
Another application that's very handy is an electronic wallet somewhere to store passwords and Ids. 85663 eWallet runs on everything under the sun and has a desktop interface included. Otherwise there's 18976 SplashID (who also makes my finance package of choice, 16273 SplashMoney which you can also purchase as part of the 19141 SplashWallet suite.
Now all we need is something to help you spend money, and you can't go past 472 HandyShopper. It's free, frequently updated and useful for much more than shopping lists it's a rather nice tasks list as well. On that line we also have Progect, an open source project manager which is ever being improved. If Progect isn't enough for you, there are several commercial task outliners, such as 11514 ShadowPlan, 12533 Bonsai and 26579 ListPro (which I've reviewed and it certainly cuts the mustard)!
12533 Bonsai 3
I haven't even started to cover the huge array of useful software, but this should give you some great starters as to the first things I always ensure are on my device. A simple search at Handango is likely to turn up many more, and reading sites such as PDANews24 and PalmAddict is a great way to get tips on the best of the best. Enjoy!
Editor note: registered users can use our 15% Handango discount code when buying software listed on this article on Handango. Visit the discount page for more information.