One of my major beefs with Symbian^1, is the fact that it lacks proper threaded text messaging. On any other modern smartphone platform, messages are threaded and displayed as conversations, which is much more practical, fun and convenient. I don’t get why Nokia has chosen to keep the original, boring messaging style, or why text messages haven’t always been threaded on phones even before they got smart. Granted, Symbian^1 has the option to show messages in groups, but that only gives you a limited advantage.
In an attempt to remedy this drawback in the Symbian UI, I’ve been using a handy little system tool called Free iSMS, ever since it was an unsigned and barely functioning beta. For each new release the app has grown, and now with the newly released version 1.08 it has evolved into a great replacement for Symbian’s built-in text messaging. On top of that, the application is now signed, so it can be installed without any hassle.
When you first launch iSMS, the application will gather all your current messages, and you’ll be greeted by a view similar to that of the text messaging on Android devices. If you have pictures for your contacts, those will be displayed as well. Version 1.08 of Free iSMS introduces an interface that better integrates with Symbian 5th Edition’s native UI, gives you more room for customization and has MMS support. You can now also send messages to a recipient that isn’t already in your list of conversations, without having to go to the built-in messaging app.
Another nice feature worth mentioning is that Free iSMS has the option to display a stylish pop-up window with incoming messages. You can mark the messages as read straight from the pop-up, which is both quick and convenient.
The irony of Free iSMS is that it unfortunately no longer is free. In fact, the Free-iSMS v1.08 Business Edition will set you back $12: a price that might seem a bit too steep for some people. And the purchasing procedure will perhaps come across as less professional: PayPal via a hard-to-comprehend Chinese website, which might scare some people off as well. But I do think Free iSMS is worth its 12 bucks, and you will get all future upgrades for free (for your current IMEI). It’s a shame that such a great application isn’t available in the OVI Store, especially since the store is full of so many titles of lesser quality.
I haven’t encountered any glitches (the kinetic scrolling option doesn’t work), and personally I count Free iSMS 1.08 as one of the most valuable applications on my Nokia N97. There’s a (severely) limited trial version available if you want to give the application a try yourself. Just head over to the official website to grab your copy, and the full version of the software can be purchased here.
Update: The developer contacted me and pointed out that there is indeed a free version of the application available: Free iSMS 1.03 (unsigned) can of course still be used without any limitations.