EDIT: On roughly December 1, 2008, Movamail (mentioned below) apparently went out of business/offline. It is still worth while to browse applications on getjar.com.
I’ve been using T-Mobile for about the last two years now. The last phone I had was a Motorola V360. My current phone is a K1, otherwise known as a KRZR (see below). Now, the chances that you have either of these two phones are slim. However, the odds that your cell phone supports J2ME (Java Micro Edition) applications are pretty good. If you’ve ever gone to play a game on your phone and have been shown the “Powered By Java” splash screen, then you can be pretty sure your phone is running J2ME.
For quite a long time, I’ve relied on needing a PC nearby to be able to browse the Internet, or more importantly, check my business e-mail. About two weeks ago I started searching around for a possible way of checking my e-mail from my phone, and hopefully be able to write messages too. I would have paid money just to get an app like this on my phone. Fortunately, I stumbled across a FREE app called MovaMail (below) which allows me to check my IMAP/SMTP account. And while I was searching, I came across Opera Mini (above). I found these apps (and hundreds of others) at GetJar.com. Both of these apps are free and the only other requirement is that your phone has Internet access. It is recommended that you sign up and pay the extra 5 or 6 dollars a month for the Unlimited MobileWeb Service (or equivelent from your own cellular provider).
Okay, let’s get these apps installed!
The first step is to visit GetJar.com and browse through their massive collection of applications that you can download from their site. The file extention of these apps is *.jar, although there are sometimes *.jad files. I am not sure what the difference between these two file types are, but I’ve leaned more towards using *.jar files. If one doesn’t work for you, try the other and cross your fingers.
For example purposes, visit this link to view GetJar’s download page for the Opera Mini web browser application. Click on the link they have shown for the jar file, and then save it to your computer in a easy to access location (like your Desktop).
The next step is to set your phone’s USB mode to “Memory Card” if it’s not already set to that, and then plug it in. This will cause your phone to mount as an external storage device with it’s own drive letter. Typically this is intended to be used for transfering pictures, videos and audio/ringtones to and from your phone. But we’re going to do something more…
NOTE TO WINDOWS USERS: The contents of your phones’ memory card include several hidden files and folders, so that when you initially plug your phone in, you will only see the “Mobile” folder, and within it, three other folders (Pictures, Video and Audio). In order to get all of the files to display, click (at the top of your file browser) Tools>Folder Options. Then click on the View tab. You should see the following:
You will want to make sure that “Show hidden files and folders” is selected AND UNCHECK “Hide protected operating system files” (as shown above). This will make all of the files and folders on your cell phone visible. Just be careful not to delete anything by accident (or you might “brick” your phone).
So now we can see everything. Here’s what the contents look like:
The folder we will want to focus on is the “kjava” folder. Double-click on it to open it up. Inside there will likely be a lot of other files and a few folders. No need to explore it, simply leave the folder open and find the Jar file you just downloaded. Copy and paste (or drag and drop, which ever you prefer) the jar file you downloaded into this folder. Once the file is finished copying, you’ll have to unmount/remove your phone by doing the following:
Once you’ve unmounted the phone, you can disconnect the USB cable. Now, open your phone and go to the “Fun & Apps” section, where you would normally go to play a video game. When you get here, you’ll see the regular list of apps you are already familiar with. There is a shortcut at the bottom of this menu that says “[Install New]“. Click on this, and you’ll see the name of the app (the jar file) that you just copied from your computer to your phone. Select it from the list. You may get a message that says, “This app is not signed. Install anyway?” Select Yes.
Once it’s finished installing, you’ll be asked if you would like to run it. Feel free to try out your new Opera Mini web browser right away if you’d like. While using Opera Mini (or any other application that requests Internet access) you will likely see a message saying “Use data network?”, with a URL shown, and the options: “Yes, Always Ask.” “No, Ask Later.” and “No, Never Grant Access.” This is effectively your phones firewall and java security settings just making sure that the application you’re using is supposed to be allowed access to the web.
There are a ton of apps (and games) available on GetJar.com that you can download, install and experiment with on your own time using the same installation procedure described above. Though you should be warned that some apps do not work with all phones.
If you’re technically savvy, you might want to visit modmymoto.com. Here you’ll find several forums pertaining to many different types of cellphones and discover other neat hacks you can do to your phone. Just keep in mind that you should be very careful when attempting to modify the software your cell phone runs on. As mentioned before, it can be easy to accidentally brick your phone.