Steve Punter has released PhoneBook Extreme, a Java ME replacement for the stock Contacts, Recent Calls and Call Timer applications on many of the Motorola phones used on iDEN networks like Nextel, Southern Linc and Telus. I've been a beta tester for the last month and can tell you that PhoneBook Extreme rocks. It adds a tremendous amount of functionality compared to the Motorola equivalents and is easier to use to as well.
The Motorola phone book on these phones is pretty basic supporting just regular and Direct Connect (Push To Talk) numbers and email addresses. Unlike most GSM phones there are no fields for mailing address or notes and phone numbers are displayed as a hard to read 10 digits without the dashes. The Motorola Call Log is also rather limited holding only the single most recent call to or from only 20 numbers.
Phonebook Extreme offers the following advantages over the native phone book and call log:
- Full text search of any or all fields in the phone book by T9 or number. The native phone book only lets you search by the first letter of a contact's name.
- Up to seven numbers per contact including multiple numbers of the same type (mobile, home, business) .
- Each number can have a "tag" or description field.
- The ability to specify a default phone number for each contact.
- Four text fields (addresses or notes) per contact.
- An expanded call log that can hold the last 20 calls to/from 50 contacts or numbers.
- A Smart Call Timer which distinguishes between free and charged calls. It knows that calls to 611 and * codes are free, that direct connect is billed by the second and phone calls by the minute. You do have to set it up with some information that varies from plan to plan like what day of the month your billing period starts on, when your evening and weekend free calling times begin and end, if you have free incoming calls and which contact numbers are free M2M calls. The Smart Call Timer can help you control costs by giving you accurate reports of how many minutes of each type (day, night/weekend and DC) you have used in the current billing period.
PB Extreme also comes with a mini web service that you can install on your PC. The PC service along with a data plan enables two additional PB Extreme features:
- Backup of your contacts, call logs and PB Extreme settings to the PC.
- Reverse directory lookup. This works with any phone number in your contacts or call log or you can key in numbers you are curious about. If the number is listed it returns the name and address which can be copied to the phone book with a single click. With unlisted numbers, reverse lookup will generally tell you the state or province and metro where the number is assigned. I use this feature a lot and find it very useful. It's fast, much faster than launching an online mobile or PC web reverse directory site plus I can copy it right into the phone book without keying.
As I mentioned, I've been beta testing this application and it's been a real pleasure to use; fast, attractive, extremely robust and reliable, a very high quality piece of software.
PB Extreme is available for download from Steve's site where there are also numerous screenshots and documentation. It's being distributed as fully functional shareware with no time limit. The suggested shareware donation is $10 which I consider to be a bargain for such a useful and well written application. It runs on all the Motorola iDEN Phones with 176x220 screens except the i930. Compatible phones include the i580, i605, i615, i760, i850, i855, i860, i870, i875, i880 and i885. You will need a data cable and Motorola's iDEN JAL loader to get PB Extreme on your phone. If you have one of these phones give PB Extreme a try. If you end up keeping it on your phone send Steve the ten bucks. We want to encourage him to write more great apps for these phones.
If the name Steve Punter sounds familiar it should. Steve's one of the first mobilists - his opinionated and always interesting mobile phone hardware review site will be ten years old in this year! If your experience with minimal computing hardware goes back to the Commodore 64 you might remember the word processor WordPro, the Punter Protocol for modem file transfers and PET BBS software all of which were writen by Steve Punter.