Use Your Phone As a Desktop PC

 In Cool Web Apps, Software-Updates

Cross-platform apps such as Firefox Portable Edition, OpenOffice.org Portable, and Audacity Portable will give your phone full PC capabilities.

Mobile computing has long been dominated by laptop computers, but powerful new smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 4 and the various Android phones–including the new Motorola Droid X–are rapidly becoming the portable computing devices of choice. This shift, of course, is primarily due to the immense number of apps written for both types of phones.

However, a lot of tasks, such as word processing and Web browsing, are still more easily accomplished using the larger keyboard and monitor of a traditional laptop or PC. Consequently, most mobile professionals continue to lug around a bulky laptop in addition to their smartphone.

Here are some ways to take advantage of your smart phone.

1.USB Drive Mode

All you need is your smartphone, the USB sync cable that works with it, and the right selection of portable apps, as well as access to a desktop or laptop PC–even if it’s just as a guest.

First, plug your phone into the computer using the phone’s sync cable. Next, select USB Drive mode. This process should work with all operating systems, most smartphones, and any other type of phone that uses a sync cable. (If your phone doesn’t use a sync cable, you’re out of luck.)

Once the handset is in USB Drive mode, you can use the PC’s file explorer–or the Finder on a Mac–to browse your phone’s internal memory as if it were a flash drive. Now, you can install portable desktop apps and run them from your phone, saving all your settings and data to your phone’s internal storage.

2.Use Windows XP/Vista/7 Portable Apps

PortableApps.com hosts dozens of apps that have been “portabilized” so that they store all of their temporary files, cache files, and history on a portable drive (or phone). Software categories available on the site include office software, games, Internet apps, security tools, utilities, and multimedia programs. For example, you can run the Portable Edition of the Mozilla Firefox browser from your phone, saving all your bookmarks, preferences, and add-ons directly to your phone’s internal storage. It leaves no data behind on the host PC, and you don’t have to install anything on the computer.

If you’d like to work as if you were at your desk, try OpenOffice.org Portable. Another useful app is the portable, cross-browser RoboForm2Go, a password manager that is secure and encrypted. For another good source of useful portable apps, check out the Portable Freeware Collection.

3.Use Mac OS X Portable Apps

Mac users can choose from many portable apps, too, including the Firefox Web browser, Adium instant messaging client, and Thunderbird e-mail client.

FreeSMUG (Free OpenSource Software Mac User Group) has a goodly selection of Mac-ready portable apps. You can also find lots of apps on the SourceForge OS X Portable Applications page.

4.Use Linux Portable Apps

Linux enthusiasts who are smartphone users can get in on the portable-app action, as well.

Pendrivelinux is the go-to site for step-by-step tutorials that provide a multitude of portable options for many of the most popular distributions, including Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS.

Running a full-blown Linux OS like Ubuntu from your smartphone is probably the most powerful and customizable way to run portable desktop apps. You can access hundreds of software packages through the Synaptic package manager. Additionally, using portable apps allows you to create a system rescue option for disaster recovery.

On top of that, you can also run many Windows-based portable apps on Linux machines that have Wine (a Linux program that simulates a Windows environment) or Crossover (the for-pay, professionally supported version of Wine) installed. Your mileage may vary, but I have had success running PortableApps.com’s Firefox Portable Edition in Wine on Ubuntu 10.04.

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