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REVIEW: IA Style Tools for Smartphone 2002
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 06.03.03 - 15:03:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 10301x
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IA Style Tools is a software collection for the Microsoft Smartphone which contains three applications: IA File Manager, IA Task Manager and IA Space Maker.
While a file explorer would be expected to be included into the Smartphone by default, it isn't part of the Microsoft Smartphone OS and therefore it's highly appreciated to have a kind of file explorer on the device. Task Manager and Space Maker are utilities which helps you to get more out of the limited hardware resources of the Smartphone as you still have to keep in mind that the Microsoft Smartphone 2002 is primarily a mobile phone and not a PDA and therefore it includes less RAM or storage space.

IA File Manager
This tiny application provides easy-to-use features for file and folder management with a look-and-feel similar to Microsoft's Windows File Explorer. It operates in Tree view or List View.

  • Tree View displays the entire file structure tree in the Smartphone.
  • List View displays the details of the selected folder.

Folder manipulation functions include folder creation, switching, deletion, move, copy, find files, refresh, Properties display and System Info display.

File manipulation features include deletion, rename, move, copy, association, shortcut creation, multiple files operations, sorting, Send via E-Mail, and more.

IA Task Manager
It lists all the tasks/applications currently running on your Smartphone. You can easily switch to and activate any (or all) currently running tasks or even more important terminate the tasks.

IA Space Maker
This makes it easy for you to delete specific categories of any unwanted data in internal Flash storage as you see fit, thereby letting you control the amount of space available. E-Mail, SMS, Speed Dial entries, Call History entries, and Voice Notes can be conveniently removed individually or entirely.

Device Information
More than just file browsing or task management, this feature provides general information about memory usage, battery power, and more.

Final Conclusion

IA Style Tools is a great set of helpful applications to use a Smartphone more convenient on one hand and to get more out of the whole hardware.
Since my first PDA I don't/can't live without a file explorer and this happens also with the Smartphone. Specially since ActiveSync is so limited on the Smartphone platform (it synchronize (Contacts, Calendar and Tasks) only a file explorer is highly recommended to move files from the phone to a storage card and vice versa. For instance last time in Seattle one of my fellow MVPs snapped a photo of me which I wanted to get in that second too. So he gave me the SD card of his camera and I copied it to my Smartphone. Without a file explorer I couldn't do that kind.
But also the overall functionalities of IA File Manager are pretty exciting and I like the way how it works with "Tree and List View". This is super convenient and gives you a fast access to any folders and files, perfect to use! The other functionalities like copy, cut and paste are more or less standard and expected in a file browser. However, changing the properties of a file including renaming it is pretty smart as well.
The only weakness I've noticed so far is the "send" functionality. While you can use IA File Manager to send any file as an E-Mail attachment (which makes sense pretty often instead of using MMS) I truly miss to send files by infrared as well. Here I would like to see an improvement for the final version!

Like we have seen on Pocket PCs before, also the Smartphone works with a kind of dynamic resource management and closing applications isn't part of applications by default. As bad as it worked on Pocket PCs before as bad it is working on Smartphones also. It could happen that you have a lot of apps running in the background which costs to much resources. Here IA Task Manager is a great tool to quit this application and to get memory back; but also to get a background application back to the foreground which is pretty handy, specially if you want to jump back to the Internet Explorer without getting the Favorites displayed again but the last page you've visited. All this works really good; however I miss a quit functionality for IA Task Manager anyhow. If you launch it, it's running all the time in the background anyhow.

IA Space Maker is a convenient tool to get storage space back in an easy and handy way. Just select which data should be deleted and you are done and you have this space back. The pre-selected data like Call History, E-Mail, SMS, Speed Dial and Voice Notes are pretty good but I even would like to see if it would also allow to delete the complete Contacts, Calendar and Tasks database. In that case you could give away your Smartphone without hard resetting it first which requires a bloody workaround on a Smartphone, compared to a Pocket PCs.

Overall I really enjoy IA Style Tools as it gives me back options and functionalities I've missed on the Smartphone platform. However, there is also some room for minor improvements to make this great collection of helpers even better.

IA Style Tools isn't available today but should be released right after CeBIT next week. It will cost $14.95 and should be application signed to be used with un-hacked Orange SPVs as well, which is an important feature from my point of view!

Overall the IA Style Tools collection impressed and satisfied me as it gives me the control of my hardware back!

Cheers ~ Arne

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