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quickNet is a simple application designed to help you switch between the various radio modes available in your Symbian device. The premise is that it’s easier to launch an app, rather than dig through the menus and submenus of the Settings application. There aren’t any other applications like this around for Symbian, so read on to see how well it works in practice!
Switching off the 3G radio is one of those tricks which often pop up on lists of tips for how to increase your phone’s battery life. Whichever platform you’re using, this always involves drilling down through some level of menus. Third party applications can step in to ease the process. In Android for example, there are various home screen widgets that act as simple switches for phone settings which are otherwise fairly well buried in system menus.
In Symbian^3, users can switch between having GSM only, 3G only (aka UTMS) or having both radios enabled at once, “dual mode”. Once the Settings application is located, the user has to select Connectivity, and choose one of the previously mentioned multiple choices under the Network mode heading. Not a terribly painful process, depending on where the Settings application has been placed, but still enough steps to require a significant recall.
This is where quickNet steps in. Once launched, quickNet will cycle these radio modes for you, subject to a simple group of settings.
The warning screen with quickNet
When the application is launched, a warning and a countdown timer is presented. The warning states that after the timer elapses, the phone’s network mode will be changed. The user interface also has two buttons, “Switch” and “Settings”. The former triggers the network mode change before the timer to elapses. Unsurprisingly, the latter launches the settings menu.
There are three settings with which one can control quickNet’s behaviour. First off, there is a choice for which network modes quickNet will cycle between. Next is the timeout limit for auto-switching. Finally, there is an option as to whether the application shows a standard notification box to inform the user about which mode it has just switched into.
The settings menu in quickNet
I found the latter option rather bemusing, because one of my criticisms of quickNet is the lack of any sort of indication, before switching, of the current network mode. Therefore, the action notifications are the only way in which one can get information back from the application about the state of their radio circuits!
I am sure that some astute readers may well point out that all one needs to do is look at their phone’s signal meter to see the current mode. However, this is an imperfect way of reminding oneself of what the current radio mode was set to. For example, if the phone is set to dual mode while in a poor signal area, it will show a GSM signal only, etc.
Selecting which network modes quickNet will cycle between
Another, awkward facet of quickNet is that the Exit button is only shown in the settings menu. Therefore, diving into settings is the only way one can abort the auto switch countdown. Criticisms out of the way, I applaud quickNet for its intention. It is unfortunate there is no widget for this application. Having a home screen widget showing the current network mode, which would then cycle the mode with a single press, would have won top marks from me. As it is, placing the application icon in one of the shortcut widgets is the only way to trigger the application from the home screen.
A demonstration of the two ways in which one can launch quickNet. We would have much preferred to see a functional home screen widget!
quickNet is clearly at an immature stage, and I would hope, and expect, that the features I’ve mentioned here will form part of its development. You can buy quickNet in the Ovi Store for £1.50. I’ve struggled with whether I think this is a reasonable price tag. As things are, I’d have to say that if switching radio is something you regularly do, then do take a bet on quickNet. With the the condition that you get in touch with the author and nag for more features!
David Gilson for All About Symbian, 16th February 2011.