Smartphone E-mail Application

Photo courtesy of © 2007 Microsoft Corporation

Flexible Interfaces

The core services on smartphones all tie in to the idea of a multi-purpose device that can effectively multitask. A user can watch a video clip, field a phone call, then return to the video clip after the call, all without closing each application. Or he or she can flip through the digital calendar and to-do list applications without interrupting the voice call. All of the data stored on the phone can be synchronized with outside applications or manipulated by third-party phone applications in any number of ways. Systems supported by smartphones include:


A short-range, wireless radio service that allows phones to wirelessly link up with each other and with other nearby devices that support it. This includes things like printers, scanners, input devices, computers and headsets.

Some varieties of Bluetooth only allow communication with one device at a time, but others allow simultaneous connection with multiple devices. To learn more, check out How Bluetooth Works.

Data Synchronization

A phone that keeps track of your personal information, like appointments, to-do lists, addresses, and phone numbers, needs to be able to communicate with all of the other devices you use to keep track of those things. There are hundreds of possible platforms and applications you might use for this in the course of a day. If you want to keep all of this data in synchronization with what's on your phone, then you generally have to look for a cell phone that speaks the languages of all of the devices and applications you use. Or you can go out and buy new applications that speak the language of your cell phone.

The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) is a collaborative organization with the mission to “facilitate global user adoption of mobile data services by specifying market driven mobile service enablers that ensure service interoperability across devices, geographies, service providers, operators, and networks, while allowing businesses to compete through innovation and differentiation” [Source: Open Mobile Alliance]. The OMA formed a Data Synchronization Working Group, which is continuing the work begun by the SyncML Initiative. SyncML is an open-standards project designed to eliminate the trouble of worrying about whether your PIM devices sync up with your phone and vice-versa. The project is designed so that any kind of data can be synchronized with any application on any piece of hardware, through any network, provided that they are all programmed to OMA standards. This includes synchronization over the Web, Bluetooth, mail protocols and TCP/IP networks.

SyncML allows data to be synchronized from a phone to PalmOS, Windows, Mac and Linux applications using Bluetooth, infrared, HTTP or a USB cable. The OMA’s SyncML site keeps a list of devices that are compliant with the standard.


A smartphone that is compatible with the Java programming language allows the user to load and run Java applications and MIDlets. MIDlets are applications that use a subset of Java and are specifically programmed to run on wireless devices. Java MIDlets include add-ons, games, applications and utilities.

Since there are millions of Java developers worldwide, and the Java development tools are freely accessible, smartphone users can install thousands of third-party applications on their phones. Because of the way the OS architecture of most phones is built, these applications can access and use all of the data on the user's phone. For example, if you don't like the photo caller ID that comes bundled with Symbian Series 60 OS, you can just find one that you like better.