You don't need an Apple or Android phone to feast on tasty app treats. Nokia's Symbian-based operating system will also let you merrily gorge yourself on an app-a-palooza of downloadable delights. From social networking widgets to full-on office suites, they're all available from the Ovi Store, and many for little or no fee. Be warned, though: not all apps are suited to all handsets, so remember to check that your model is listed before you commit. Compatibility aside, here are ten of the best from the Ovi Store's current crop of offerings:
eBuddy Mobile Messenger
An essential download for virtual socialites everywhere, eBuddy works with just about every instant-messaging (IM) service on the planet, including AIM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook Chat, ICQ and more. It allows you to stay in touch with all your chums from the one app, wherever you go, regardless of what IM client they're using. There are plenty of other ways of messaging from your Nokia phone, but eBuddy is fast and simple. It also uses a slick, re-skin-able tabbed interface. There's no video chat, sadly, but you can send pictures taken on a camera phone and set your avatar with a photo from your handset.
Also consider: Video Chat (Free)
There are, of course, loads of useful reference apps available on the Ovi store, including several free dictionaries, encyclopaedias and translators. But few will drive members of the opposite sex wild in quite the same way as Elements Touch -- assuming the members of the opposite sex in question have a master's degree in applied chemistry, that is. Elements is a complete, interactive periodic table in your pocket, perfect for students and pub quizzes alike. Each element has its own Top Trumps-style fact sheet. Who knew, for example, that the boiling point of molybdenum was 4,612 degrees centigrade?
Also consider: Wikipedia Reader (Free)
This voice recorder app is designed like an old-fashioned tape deck and has the word 'droid' in its name. Yes, Class of 1977 -- this app is aimed at you! In fact, despite its retro appeal and simple operation, Recordroid is, technically speaking, a pretty nifty app. It can record in AAC, AMR, MP4 and WAV formats, and has the ability to add geotag and text-based metadata to your recordings. These can then be emailed, bluetoothed, MMS-ed or set as your ringtone. The free Lite version has a time limit of 1 minute per recording -- paying £4 for the full app relieves you of this restriction.
Also consider: YouTube (Free)
If you're not already familiar with this game in any of its digital or board game incarnations, you should probably be aware that it's ever so slightly addictive. At the start of the game you are given 21 Tetris-like coloured pieces and the objective of the game is to get all your pieces onto the board. The player with the highest score, rather unsurprisingly, wins. There are several game modes available. You can play against the computer or other human opponents on the same handset. Simple, strategic and suitable for short mobile sessions, Blokus is easily one of the best games on the Ovi Store.
Also consider: Cube Touch XXL (Free)
For anyone who wants something a little cleverer than your average, everyday map app, Locago provides a suitably Web 2.0 twist to proceedings. Basically what it does is combine map data with information from lots of other sources, including photos from Flickr, facts and figures from Wikipedia, local weather reports and user-generated content. Data sources are added in 'layers' on top of the map itself and you can turn individual layers on or off. If your Nokia phone has built-in GPS, Locago will work with this, too, and it's particularly well suited to touchscreen handsets. The free version is supported by advertising, but for the princely sum of £1.50, you can eradicate the ads altogether.
Also consider: META friend locator + (£1)
There was a time when speech recognition cost hundreds of pounds and required months of training to achieve anything even vaguely approximating accuracy. Now it's available on your Nokia handset for zero pence. Vlingo is a technically impressive speech recognition system with which you can dictate notes -- the full app (£3) lets you dictate limitless text messages, and emails, too. Perhaps the swankiest way of using it is looking up stuff online. Tell Vlingo to "search cinema times" for instance, and you'll be presented with a Google page full of relevant results. Vlingo's accuracy isn't always perfect, but it doesn't require any training and is both practical and perfect for showing off.
Also consider: Vlingo Plus (£3)
All phones come with some kind of built-in Web browser, but it's almost always slow, clunky and low on features. Optimised for touchscreen Nokias, Opera Mobile is a very nippy way of surfing the Web. You can make it even nippier by switching on the Opera Turbo option, which compresses content to make it faster to download. Opera Mobile offers miniature versions of features we've grown used to from desktop browsing, such as tabs and password management. There's also a highly intuitive 'long click' -- hold your finger down a little longer for context-sensitive commands, such as copying and pasting text or opening a link in a new tab.
Also consider: Skyfire Free Mobile Browser (Free)
There are plenty of dedicated apps available for mobile Tweeters and Facebookers, but Snaptu has had the bright idea of bringing your various social networking outlets together under one roof, along with several other news, weather and sports services and RSS feeds. Open the app and you'll see what looks like a selection of sub-apps. In fact, all that Snaptu is doing is providing a quick and easy way of accessing lots of Web-based data. But it's a great idea and it works really well in practice. In addition to the obvious candidates, you'll find everything from travel updates to TV listings, pub guides, Sudoku and more.
Also consider: Facebook for Nokia (Free)
Quickoffice 6 Mobile Suite
Your handset may have a rudimentary tool for taking notes, but the missing link on many smart phones is decent office software. And by that, we don't just mean a DOC or XLS file viewer -- we mean a proper document, spreadsheet and presentation creation and editing suite. Like, for example, QuickOffice 6. Those with smaller handsets may struggle to input text using the keypad, but if you're lucky enough to have a smart phone with a full Qwerty keyboard, you'll be able to knock up letters, budget sheets and more. The latest version of Quickoffice can natively save files in Office 2007 formats and even supports Excel charts and zip files.
Also consider: Adobe Reader LE 2.5 (£8)
The Symbian operating system used on virtually all Nokia phones is a wonderful thing, but it's probably fair to say it's not great at managing applications. So if you've ever seen a 'memory full' error message or want to close, kill or switch from one open app to another, you'll find Best TaskMan is much more powerful than your phone's basic, built-in task manager. Admittedly, not everyone will need to know precisely how much RAM each app is using or what background processes are operating, but if you want complete control over your Symbian mobile, Best TaskMan is by far the best (task)man for the job.
Also consider: Best Screen Snap (Free)