DIY IMS with S60 3.0 applications

Hopefully a helpful guide to adding some useful functionality into your phone, while keeping the applications fairly integrated.

IMS stands for IP Multimedia Subsystem. and is a standard from which Internet services can be delivered to mobile devices. This appears to the end-user as services such as Instant Messengers, PoC (Push-To-Talk over Cellular), Presence and a few others.

When you start to think about the things I just mentioned being integrated into your phone, you might start to think 223great! now I can see what my friends are up to, and chat to them... all built into my phone!224. Well, not so fast. All the things I just mentioned are features which require infrastructure which the network operator implement, and at least in the UK, no services have appeared that enable any of them to work.

Luckily we have powerful 221Multimedia Computers222 in our pockets nowadays which can help us achieve at least some of the functionality provided by the phone IMS applications. My focus here is going to be on the cross-platform communication and synchronisation functions:

  • Instant Messenger
  • Presence
  • VoIP

Although these may not be done using one nicely integrated application, the individual features can be achieved. My mobile platform is S60 3rd Edition, but some of the applications mentioned may be available for other mobile devices.

Instant Messenger

This is the most common of the above features to find applications for, but there are (in my opinion) only a couple of applications that 221fit in222 with the S60 look and feel, while still doing their job.

My primary instant messenger is Agile Messenger, which is one of only 3 applications which I have actually purchased for my mobile phone. Agile Messenger allows you to connect ICQ, AIM, MSN, Yahoo and Google Talk services. It works very well as an all-in-one messenger.

There is a way to use the built in IM client to connect to messenger services. Yamigo offers a connection to ICQ, AIM, MSN and Yahoo while you connect only to their server. This seems similar to the way Jabber gateways work and can be effective, although I am a little curious to know how, as a user, I would tell which protocol Yamigo is using to communicate with a contact.

Presence

A new revelation for me, having installed Jaiku around a week ago, after trying Twitter over the last couple of months. Although Twitter seems to have been adopted by the majority, I have found that Jaiku not only has a slightly more appealing web interface, it has (more importantly) a real mobile interface.

The mobile application for Jaiku is amazingly well integrated into both the web service and the mobile phone222s other applications. So much so that the software can be left to run automatically in the background most of the time.

Idea: Both Twitter and Jaiku offer RSS feeds, and on the Jaiku web interface you can incorporate other feeds onto your page, so you could in theory use both Twitter and Jaiku together by giving the feed from one (your primary account) to the other (your secondary account), which would mean you would only need to keep one up-to-date.

VoIP

VoIP is another busy topic of late, and I222m by no means going to cover the whole topic here. Skype is by far the biggest VoIP service and also the one with the most recognition, luckily there is a couple of ways to access it from your phone. Other services offer a standard SIP server which you can connect the phone222s built-in SIP client to.

The first application I have seen is the official Skype client offered by Three. From seeing this, it looks exactly the same as the interface on a PC which is ideal, but I don222t like to be hooked in to one operator. Apparently it doesn222t call using the data services on the phone, instead it sets up a normal call, which is why the sound quality should be fairly high.

The other Skype application, which I have used is Fring. It222s currently in beta, and it at least works. It222s a bit of a slow interface, but it syncs your Skype contact list, allows you to see their status and call them, which is after-all the main reason to use it.

I haven222t tried Truphone yet as I need to update the firmware on my phone, but from the introduction video it looks as if it integrates very nicely into the phone222s interface. I will try it at some point, but the thing that222s not really convincing me is that only Truphone-to-Truphone calls are free, which means I have to try and convince my friends to first buy a new S60 3rd Edition phone, and if I succeed at that, get them to download Truphone.

The most integrated way to go about getting VoIP on your mobile is to use a real SIP service and use the built-in SIP client to connect. There are many SIP services to choose from, but I like Sipgate and VoIPtalk. Sipgate has a nice guide about getting a capable S60 phone connected. An advantage of this approach is that it uses the SIP standard which is universal for the majority of (non-Skype) VoIP services, but at the same time the flexibility of the standard would cause confusion for the novice user.

There222s no way to keep your SIP contact list synced in the same way as Skype does... sure you can sync your contacts with Outlook, but that assumes you have been able to create your contacts correctly in the first place and that you have shared your SIP addresses with each other.

Summarising the above comments I find it hard to suggest one approach that would suit all users. Of course having Skype on your phone would be very useful, but the application isn222t really ready for standard consumption yet. I would also love to suggest using the SIP client built into your phone already, but the use (if not the installation) would cause the majority of novice users to get confused and ultimately stop them being able to use it. Clearly more work needs to happen on this subject before it222s ready for everyone to use... good thing our mobiles are still capable of normal calls.

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About the author

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On weekdays I'm a Technical Lead at Comparethemarket.com, having previously been a Solution Architect at Nokia & Nokia Siemens Networks, creating creative software solutions for mobile operators around the world.

In my spare time I'm an avid new technology fan, and constantly strive to find innovative uses for the new gadgets I manage to get my hands on. Most recently I've been investigating Mobile Codes, RFID and Home automation (mainly Z-Wave). With a keen eye for usability I'm attempting to create some cost-effective, DIY technology solutions which would rival even high-end retail products. The software I develop is usually released as Open Source.

I have a Finnish geek partner, so have begun the difficult task of learning Finnish.


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