Motorola has been embracing Open Source lately, releasing their Java ME 3.0 implementation under the Apache license. Moto is also the leading producer of Linux OS phones although none are available in the US.
While it’s not Open Source, Motorola has also released iDenJAL. For the 24 million users on iDEN networks this means that loading Java games and applications just got a whole lot easier. This new tool allows anyone to transfer Java ME programs from their Windows 2000 or XP PC to any phone running the proprietary iDEN mobile phone technology. Most iDEN users are in the US on the Nextel network but there are iDEN carriers in 20 countries
Motorola produced the first commercially available J2ME capable phone, the i85 back in 2001 on the iDEN platform, but iDEN phones have always restricted the ability of users to load applications from anywhere except the carrier portal. There are many good games and applications on the Nextel portal particularly location aware ones using the phones’ built in GPS. What has been lacking is a way for users to load any of the great free and Open Source Java midlets. Which is kind of a shame as Nextel, including the Boost Mobile prepaid variant, have unlimited mobile web and data available for $10/month. Unlike many GSM phones, iDEN devices require no configuration to allow Java applications to connect to the internet, if you have a data plan everything just works!
Hacked, unauthorized versions of Motorola’s WebJAL developer tool have been available on the web for years and were and are used by the large iDEN hacker community. These tools are time consuming and difficult to get working and there are legal issues regarding modifying and distributing this copyrighted software. Open WebJAL is a polished, complete application that anyone should be able to legally install and use.
Download iDenJAL from developer.motorola.com/docstools/idenjal/openJAL/. It’s part of Motorola’s developer site but downloading this tool is open to everyone without registration. (Update: free registration is now required. I’ve mirrored the file here on WapReview where you can download it from with no registration required although it may not be the latest version). The download is a .zip containing a single file, IdenJAL.exe. Extract the file and launch it to install Open WebJal.
You also need a data cable. These are available on the web from eBay, and many other vendors.
iDenJAL is very easy to use. Connect the data cable to your phone – which should not be running any Java programs. Click the Connect To Phone menu item. I’ve found connection problems are rare with Open WebJAL. If you get the message “The phone is currently busy performing another operation…” it means that a Java application is still running on the phone. Go to the Java Menu on the phone and you’ll see the message “End all running applications”, choose Yes and then Finish and try connecting again. If you get “The application was unable to read the required phone information… ” disconnecting and reconnecting the cable usually helps.
To load a game or application, press the download button and browse to the location where you have saved the .jad and .jar files, double click the .jad and WebJAL will copy the game or application to the phone. It’s as simple as that. Unlike with some phones both .jad and .jar are required
So what can you load on your phone? Well here’s what I have on my Boost Mobile Motorola i855.
- Opera Mini 3.0 – simply the best mobile browser. It’s fast, loads almost any website even full sized PC sites and has an efficient , intuitive user interface. Download the Generic Basic version (the Advanced doesn’t work on iDen phones) directly from Opera. Update 26-Feb-2007: The latest released version of Opera Mini is 3.1 which fully supports recent iDEN phones. The Advanced version of 3.1 works flawlessly on my i855. Details here. Update 20-Oct-2007: Opera Mini 4.2 is now available and it works on iDen phones. Links to the latest version of Opera Mini in a format ready to install with Open JAL are on the download page.
- Google Maps 1.4.1 – Clear, zoomable maps and satellite images with traffic overlays and search for local businesses. You can read more about it at Google, but the version on Google’s page doesn’t work well with the iDEN phone key mappings. YoDude has a modified version that does.
- gMail 1.0 – short of a Blackberry, a gMail account and this app is the fastest and easiest way to read email on a phone. Download a version with iDEN key mappings from YoDude above.
- Mologogo – GPS enabled application that shows your location on a zoomable Google Map. You can share your location with friends who can follow you on their own phones or on the web. Mologogo does everything Boost Loopt does and it’s free. From Mologogo.com
Solytaire – great comerical quality Kondike Solitaire game. Download from Getjar.com which is a good source for all sorts of free, non-pirated games and apps. A minor issue with Solytaire is that you have to use the green Call key instead of the OK button to pick up and drop cards.
- Book Reader by TequilaCat – Lets you read plain text files on your phone. A simple PC interface loads text files into the application’s jar file. Book Reader can load very large files by splitting them into multiple .jars. Get it from the author.
- Notepad – Take quick notes on the phone, written by Motorola for free distribution. Available from Getjar.
- Calculator Suite – another freebie from Motorola. Basic and financial calculators, plus metric and currency converters. This used to be on Motorola’s site but now is hard to find. There are links to various versions on this page at HowardForums
DaizoAES – Secure password storage with web based backup and restore. From the author’s site. Update: the Dazio site and backup server seem to be down. You can still find the program on GetJar and it will work but you won’t be able to backup and restore.
If you’re not an iDEN user, all the Java programs mentioned, except for Mologogo, are generic enough to work on almost any Java ME capable phone.