I have a Sidekick III which I heart. Anyone who spends any time with me in RL will inevitably be on the receiving end of a mini-coma from me while I fidget with it, answering txts and IMs and emails and refreshing my LJFL. It’s a very distracting device, and more accurately a “handheld computer” than a phone (especially since it’s horrible for phone calls).
Not mine, I wish! Photo by Charlieh313
The SK3 is also completely locked down and proprietary. I can add all the mp3s that will fit on my mini-SD card– and I have a 2GB mini-SD ($50!!), so that’s a bunch– but I can’t use any of them for ringtones. If I want to hear “The Sweet Escape” every time my boo calls, I have to download a much crappier, truncated version of it for $1.99. And I can’t run Google Talk on the Sidekick, because the web interface doesn’t work — no AJAX support — and T-Mobile isn’t in any hurry to implement a Jabber client (I suspect that supporting the open-source alternative to AIM, MSN and Y! might crimp those lucrative deals, although the Google/AIM compatibility deal has been in the pipeline for eons). [BTW: add AIM/MSN/Y! to browser or OS-based Google Talk with this tutorial.]
Furthermore, the applications available for the SK3 are highly tipped towards ultra-boring productivity software. There’s no iCal-friendly calendar software, no mycycle port, no weather widget that displays the heinously cold, near-arctic temperature next to the time. This is because every single licensed application for the SK3 has to go through some lengthy byzantine deal with either Danger or T-Mobile or, most likely, both; and then I have to pay $5.99 for whatever it is. There’s no SDK, there’s no way for you to buy apps from indie programmers or download them for free. You can’t download anything from the SK3 browser and install it on the handheld. You can’t add any apps to your mini-SD card.
And some of the things on the SK3 are almost hilariously broken in their non-usability. Say “Charlie” sends me a picture mail of his biceps. In my junky old Sprint phone, that was sent directly to my inbox. In my new, exciting, web-enabled, always-on Wifi SK3 world, I am sent a txt with a temporary password and a link. I click on the link, the web browser opens, it loads the page, I enter the temporary password (no cutting and pasting! No saved passwords!) and it shows me the picture. I can’t download it to the SK3 and I can’t send it to anyone else. I’m sure a smart dev could make a thousand million percent better picturemail application in two days.
This especially rankles because there are free web versions of almost every application out there. Besides GCalendar, 30boxes, RemembertheMilk, and the like, I can use Google Docs for Word and Excel (and soon PPT!); Fauxto for Photoshop, etc. But again, almost none of these work on the SK3 due to lack of Ajax support.
So what can be done? Here are a few things:
- Custom themes are super easy to download and install. Mine is Hello Kitty and it is too adorable. I have a Bathing Ape and a Chanel theme as well (yeah, most of them are geared to 15 year olds. So is the SK3).
- New startup IMified lets you work with Google Calendar, Basecamp, Moveable Type, etc. from AIM. AIM works fine on the SK3. This is a hacky hack, but it’s better than writing down all the things you need to add to G Calendar and then adding them later.
- Monitor the brand new T-Mobile official Sidekick Wiki. Maybe a user will post a non-authorized tip and you’ll get to see it before it gets erased.
Of course, one might say that spending $400 on a device that’s crippled for no good reason, really, isn’t very smart. And one might think that Danger would make more money releasing an SK3 SDK and opening it up to all the awesome creative people in the world than they will selling $2 ringtones.. but old-school business models like to compete through stifling innovation, as we all know.
I still love the SK3 and if Danger wants to send me one of those ltd ed. Diane Von Fustenberg jobbies, you know where to find me.