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Cellphones Java Programming

Cell Phones For Easy App Development? 97

linnrose writes "When I purchased my current cell phone — a ATT/Samsung Sync — my primary reason for selecting it was Samsung told me I could install custom Java applications on it via USB or the microSD card; turns out they lied to me. I would really like to have a phone that is open enough for me to install simple Java (or whatever language; I'm primarily a C# developer) apps without having to download them from a server. And it doesn't have to be cutting-edge/feature-rich; gimme a nice color screen and good call quality. I'm thinking Nokia might have something useful, but I'm not sure. Any suggestions?"
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Cell Phones For Easy App Development?

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  • I'm a java developer and being able to easily write and deploy my own phone apps is exactly why I'm so excited about Android. It has a full SDK and Google promises that you can install your own software on your own phone!

    Go check it out...

    Clicky clicky [google.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tha_mink ( 518151 )
      If you roll in the Java world, then check out the Blackberry. It's really easy to develop for, there's a bunch of tools out there, and installing and removing apps is a breeze through the USB cable. (or a server for that matter)
      • If you roll in the Java world, then check out the Blackberry. It's really easy to develop for, there's a bunch of tools out there, and installing and removing apps is a breeze through the USB cable. (or a server for that matter)

        Has anyone done any development for the Blackberry on Linux? I use Eclipse for most of my development these days, and it looked like the only Blackberry Eclipse plugin/toolkit [blackberry.com] was an unfriendly Windows binary. Anyone have any better experiences with it?

        I'm not about to put together another machine or waste money on a Windows license just to develop cell phone software, especially when it seems that there's no specific reason why there isn't a readily available Linux port of their toolkit.

        Yeah, I'm just wait

      • Even though everyone @ the office but me has one, I always forget about Blackberry; thanks for the input
      • I'll concur with this. I installed many of my own test midlets via web download. The blackberry (even though I really hated it as a phone platform) is really dead-simple when it comes to running java apps.
  • More details please (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:50PM (#24783841)
    My current phone is a Sony Ericsson W580i. I can just upload those micro Java apps onto my phone via Bluetooth and they work.
    • I second that. I love my W580i.

      • by Simon80 ( 874052 )
        Third, having used a z520 for a long time. The only crippled features I can think of are the permanently enabled camera noise, an inability to send applications to other users from the games and applications folders (the copy in the "other" folder that was used to install a given app can be propagated just fine), and the standard SIM lock that any mainstream cell phone has.
        • The only crippled features I can think of are the permanently enabled camera noise

          In some markets where your phone is sold, statutes or regulations require "the permanently enabled camera noise" to counter invasion of privacy.

    • by willow ( 19698 )

      I'll jump in too for supporting Sony Ericsson phones as a simple phone development platform. They've an active and extensive developer site and it looks pretty easy to get simple apps written and installed.

      I did reflash the firmware on my branded w580i back to factory and it's much easier to work with now without all the vendor crap on it.

      Android may be the future but until then SE phones will satisfy my urge to tinker with simple phone apps.

    • I fairly anti-Sony at the moment - the rootkit debacle still gets me stirred up, and I've not had much luck w/ their phones. But I appreciate the input
  • All nokia phones (Score:4, Informative)

    by Simon (S2) ( 600188 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:55PM (#24783893) Homepage

    At least here in the EU, I don't know it it is the same in the US, but every nokia phone I bought (now I own a 6111) has had the capability of installing j2me apps from the memory card, vie USB or simply by copying them from the PC to the mobile over bluetooth.
    If you are a developer and would like to hack your mobile, maybe you could have a look at the Freerunner?

  • Sad to say it, but Windows Mobile phones are probably the most widely available "open for developers" phones out there. WM does have app signing, but every WM phone I've seen allows the user to easily override the signing function. It's basically "This app is unsigned, are you sure you want to run it? Yes/No" - The nice thing is that the phone *remembers* this answer until the app's hash changes.

    Most current Linux phones are heavily locked down (such as the Motorola MOTOMAGX based phones).

    Android based p

    • Re:Windows Mobile (Score:5, Informative)

      by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:13PM (#24784151)

      Sad to say it, but Windows Mobile phones are probably the most widely available "open for developers" phones out there

      First, why is it sad? Second, I have had extensive experience developing for Windows Mobile (alongside some poor slobs who were saddled with having to develop the same application for Symbian and Java). While I can say that I had a very positive experience, my compatriots were not so lucky. The tools (Embedded Visual Studio) were free. And as a big bonus, I was able to do 90-95% of my development on the desktop the same source could be built and run on a desktop Windows box and then, with a small smattering of #ifdefs, built and deployed onto either a pocket PC style (touchscreen with stylus) or Smartphone style target device. As you can imagine, source-level debugging an application in desktop Visual Studio is orders of magnitude more efficient than fiddling around with simulators or worse, tethered devices running in some sort of half-speed debugger mode under control of a desktop. I also dabbled with BREW (uggh) though not for terribly long. For my money, Windows Mobile is definitely the way to go if you want to develop applications for personal consumption.

      • by bfizzle ( 836992 )

        I figured a Windows Mobile platform would be a first choice as well especially with the op C# experience.

        • by ksheff ( 2406 )
          I would have thought that too. Based on a workshop that I attended, developing C# apps for Windows Mobile is relatively straightforward. The SDK is free, but you need the professional version of Visual Studio (I haven't tried SharpDevelop yet. The presentations and workshop materials can be found here: http://blogs.msdn.com/mobilitymetro/ [msdn.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sznupi ( 719324 )

      On Symbian you can also self sign.

    • Sad to say it, but Windows Mobile phones are probably the most widely available "open for developers" phones out there.

      Is there a good way to compile apps for Windows Mobile on Linux? Or on Windows without buying a copy of Visual Studio Standard or higher? (Visual C++ Express lacks the Windows Mobile SDK.) Is CeGCC arm-mingw32ce [sourceforge.net] any good?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've done development on Symbian and Blackberry products; advice for these: Run away, terribly fast.

    I haven't explored Windows Mobile due to it's serious speed stability issues on the two phones that I've had that run it, but it's likely your only hope for C#.

    If you can do C, Objective-C for the iPhone looks quite tasty (I've only browsed the source), and the Android platform is mostly here now, with some very tasty phones coming to major carriers this Christmas.

    So my advice would be that you need to decid

  • It's my understanding that anyone with a BlackBerry and the Windows desktop software can install Java (J2ME or J2ME+BBapi) apps on their BlackBerries via serial/USB.

    I know older Symbian devices could install via memory card as well (I had a Nokia 6600), but I've heard enough scare stories about newer Symbian revs to wonder if that's still the case.

    In *theory*, anyone with ActiveSync should be able to sync/install on a Windows Mobile phone. I've never used one myself, and the one person I know with a Window

  • Windows Mobile? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darkstorm ( 6880 ) <lorddarkstorm.hotmail@com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:01PM (#24784007)

    I have one of the Veriozon windows mobile phones, it has .net compact framework, and even compact sql server.

    I got it mainly because I could write my own c# apps for the thing. Visual studio even has a nice emulator built in.

    • Re:Windows Mobile? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rufus t firefly ( 35399 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:17PM (#24784255) Homepage

      I have one of the Veriozon windows mobile phones, it has .net compact framework, and even compact sql server.

      I got it mainly because I could write my own c# apps for the thing. Visual studio even has a nice emulator built in.

      I can't quite get over Windows Mobile's horrific interface design. I mean, if I wanted a small desktop, I think I could just buy one [asus.com]. It's not really designed to be controlled with fingers (opting instead for a stylus), and is a pretty huge pain to use. Not that some of the other entries in the mobile phone OS market aren't horrible ... Nokia managed to get around the finger problem recently with their menu system in Maemo [maemo.org], even though that's not really available for phones.

      Here's to hoping Android works better in "real life". Running it under Windows Mobile is painful at best.

      • by Darkstorm ( 6880 )

        Well, when I needed a new phone, I also needed a new pda (my sony clie is a bit old), so I got both in one. I actually use more of the pda functionality (like the calendar) since I carry the phone most places, while my pda stayed in my bag, or at home.

        I like it, and I can write apps for it.

        • Well, when I needed a new phone, I also needed a new pda (my sony clie is a bit old), so I got both in one. I actually use more of the pda functionality (like the calendar) since I carry the phone most places, while my pda stayed in my bag, or at home.

          I like it, and I can write apps for it.

          Problem is, you have to buy into the whole thing. You can't develop for Windows Mobile without a Windows desktop and a Windows development environment.

          Haven't had a Windows machine since 1999, and I'm not about to get one just so I can write apps for a phone. J2ME-based apps provide much greater market penetration, and hopefully if Android is adopted by enough companies, I can avoid the prospect of designing for either the iPhone or any WinCE hardware.

          • This one [sourceforge.net] looks promising. I might give it a try.

            If I can get that working with qt [trolltech.com] I'd be pretty happy.

            gvim + CeGCC + qt => good enough for tinkering with. (if it works)

      • by ksheff ( 2406 )
        Unless it's a PDA form factor device, I don't think the WM phones even have a touch screen interface. They use the little joystick button on the phone. www.pointui.com had made it look better at least.
  • No idea how useful this is for development, but Amazon is offering an unlocked Samsung I321N phone for $165 until 2pm PDT as a gold box deal. [amazon.com] It runs Windows Mobile 5.0, and since it's unlocked I would imagine you should be able to load apps onto it with no problems.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hard_Rock_2 ( 804967 )

      As a heads up it uses European frequencies, and only has the higher frequency for North America. Its fine for T Mobile which only uses 1900mhz, but if you use it with At&T you'll find it wont work indoors as much as other phones, which have both North American bands.

  • With Windows Mobile and PalmOS devices, you can install IBM's J9 JVM (you can buy it for six dolla online) and then code in Java. I think the current version lets you code in Java 5. Couple that with SWT, and you have a nice environment in Java that's pretty frickin' cheap, but not an iPhone.

    Failing Java+SWT on J9, I'd program for the iPhone (I'd do that before that, but I have no Intel based Mac :( )

  • Lots of Choices (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hard_Rock_2 ( 804967 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:14PM (#24784191) Homepage

    To be honest, I'm really suprised your phone doesn't let you just upload J2ME apps and run them, most phones (RAZR, etc) let you do it, some might require you buy a $6 cable, but its nothing serious.

    If you want more choices:
    1)Symbian based phones. You can run native C++ apps, and J2ME based ones. A popular example would be the N95.
    2)Iphone, although you'll need to go through the iTunes store or jailbreak it.
    3)Windows mobile phones, not sure which one to reccomend here.
    4)OpenMoko, although I hear this phone still needs a while to go before it becomes something someone will want to use as their primary phone
    5)Wait for an android based phones.

    However before purchasing new phone see if you can get a cable or modify your phone in such a way you can load java apps onto it, because I'm really surprised its that heavily locked down.

    • Yup; got the cable and it doesn't work. Samsung/ATT have this phone locked down; the only way to get an app on the phone is to download it from the web.
  • For C# / .NET code, Windows Mobile is the answer. Developing for it from Visual Studio is really simple, almost like for desktop Windows Forms apps, it supports remote debugging via USB and it has a emulator with many device profiles (different display and keyboard configurations).

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsmobile/default.aspx [microsoft.com]

    As for WM phones, HTC or Asus (a bit cheaper, I have a P750) make solid ones.

  • Nokia+Python (Score:5, Informative)

    by Masa ( 74401 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:26PM (#24784419) Journal
    A Nokia S60 phone (I have an E61) + Nokia S60 Python interpreter have been enough for my personal development needs. The nice thing is, I can develop Python applications on the road only using the phone itself.

    Information about the interpreter: http://opensource.nokia.com/projects/pythonfors60/ [nokia.com]

    The latest version is available at the Sourceforge: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pys60 [sourceforge.net]
  • You should check out the OpenMoko: http://openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com]

    I don't have one. However, at the linux users group I attend ( http://ale.freeshell.org/ [freeshell.org] ), a group of people who got them via one of the group purchase agreements came to last night's meeting. I was pretty impressed.

    It does cost $300 or $400 depending on what model you get, and then you have to get one of the cellular services that works on a sim chip thing.

    At least one of the guys at the linux meeting was using it as his daily phone. However he al

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tony ( 765 )

      The "sim chip thing" is GSM, which most places (T-Mobile, AT&T, etc) use.

      If you need it for day-to-day use, QTopia is stable and pretty. You can then develop using Qt, which isn't bad, as long as you like C++ (or you can use Python bindings or whatnot).

      If you want to explore, install the FSO image, and develop using Vala, which has a C#-like syntax, but compiles using an intermediate C step. It's fast, efficient, and not a bad language, even if it *is* modelled on C#.

      It has easy access to accelerometers

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by xhrit ( 915936 )
        i'll second that. I love my openmoko.
      • How many hours does a battery life last? I'm really interested in such a hackable device but i've heard it stands only up to 12h in standby...
  • RIM offers a Blackberry JDE for their phones. It looks slick and well integrated, and comes with an emulator and tons of samples. One caveat - I haven't actually built anything with it yet

  • Sony Ericsson K800i (Score:4, Informative)

    by aembleton ( 324527 ) <aembleton.gmail@com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:33PM (#24784553) Homepage
    I can load Java ME [wikipedia.org] apps onto my Sony Ericsson K800i [wikipedia.org] by using either the supplied USB cable, or via Bluetooth. Java ME doesn't provide all of the libraries that come with Java Standard Edition; so be prepared to work around the lack of Lists which is something that I have found frustrating about it.
    • Sony Ericsson phones provide the best J2ME support out there and put pretty much everyone else to shame in regards of supported APIs (check wwww.jcp.org), stability and speed. For development you can use NetBeans with the mobility pack, Eclipse with the MTJ (not really ready yet) or any IDE on any OS of your choice with J2ME Polish.
  • I have been personally bitten by this Samsung crippling "feature" too. Java apps/games can only be installed via a server/EDGE, not via USB or microSD or via Bluetooth file exchange. Samsung is the only manufacturer that does that, and I have my share of experience with many cellphones.

  • Linux based Mororola (Score:2, Informative)

    by alder ( 31602 )
    For instance, ROKR Z6 [motorola.com]. It connects to PC via USB as a memory card (one of the options). JARs copied over to the phone are installed with a single click ;-) Out of the box it has a little over 60M of free space with an option to add (up to) 2G micro-SD card.

    Phone is easily reflashable [modmymoto.com] including mods [bashorg.net.ru] that add telnet and FTP ;-)

  • I have a BlackBerry and happily code for it in Java. I use a Mac with VMware to run Windows so I can run the SDK's tools.

    - The device OS is itself written in Java, so your Java apps are not second class citizens
    - API is intelligently designed and easy to work with
    - Good API documentation
    - Simulator runs the actual OS code
    - Apps can be loaded using a USB cable
    - Apps can be debugged as they run on the device itself through that USB cable
    - SDK downloadable for free in a few clicks
    - Lots of people have Bl

    • I second this, and I've used everything. If you want to work with Java, this choice is a no-brainer.

  • by juanfe ( 466699 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:43PM (#24785643) Homepage

    If you're in the US, two general choices:

    Sprint will let you load pretty much any Java ME app that does not use protected APIs on your phone. For their CDMA phones, you'll need a special developer unlock to use protected APIs (easy to get). For their Nextel phones, you can sign any apps that use protected APIs using the iDEN SDK they have available. Visit their developer site (http://developer.sprint.com) and you'll find links to tools to do Over-the-air (or cable installs in the Nextel case) of Java apps on your phones.

    Pretty much any GSM phone with Java ME you can use to download apps over the air. AT&T does not make this difficult, and lets you download applications over the air to any of their Java ME capable phones. If the application uses a protected API, you'll probably have to get it developer enabled as well -- their developer website (http://developer.att.com) should help you with what you need.

    T-Mobile also has wide open phones for Java ME apps, as long as they're not using protected APIs.

    For Verizon, you're SOL.

    BlackBerry devices are all pretty open and you can install whatever you want on them as long as it's not locked up by your system administrator. The APIs are as rich as they come.

  • iPhone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday August 29, 2008 @02:10AM (#24790741) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, someone had to mention the obvious. But the iPhone is really great to develop for. Once you've learnt Objective-C, the whole dev environment is very good, and I've heard that from quite a few people, many professional software developers among them.

  • by forgoil ( 104808 )

    Sounds like a Windows Mobile device with .NET would be a choice then. Haven't ever tried them out myself (I'm very sick of mobile devices so I don't check them out really) and I have heard some bad and some good about WM, but it should be a good fit if you want the MS development suite and languages.

    • by juanfe ( 466699 )

      Most of the folks I know who've gotten WinMobile devices for the purpose of getting apps on them seem to be happy (with the exception of WinMobile SmartPhone (not Pocket PC Phone edition) users, who tend to be unhappy because the platform allows the carrier to lock it down) -- at least happy in that they can get applications they download of the interwebs on their phone.

      My experience is also that there are a huge number of fairly crappy/duplicative applications written for WinMobile, and that the good appli

  • Windows, Windows,Windows. If you are fed up with these try Windows

After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done.