Over the course of my years as a self-taught geek and a pro-blogger, I have used almost every smartphone platform that has ever been worth using (and I mean no disrespect but Bada OS never really cut it). I remember the days when Symbian used to rule all, when whatever offering it had up its sleeves was the industry standard. I recall fairly clearly the days when Windows Mobile was the ultimate in smartphone computing, and my XDA 2 being a source of constant admiration among my peers. Things have come a long way since then, with several game changing moves along the way that completely redefined how we viewed and used our phones, turning them into more than just communication devices and replacing pretty much everything else – PIMs, eBook readers, media players et al – but one thing that has remained constant is the primary usage of the device, and that is, a communications tool. And so, a smartphone can be a miracle for all I care, but unless it’s smart about making calls and sending text messages, there’s little to say about it.
That brings me to the second part of my dilemma, for which I made you read through the entire rant above, and that is, Apple’s iPhone. Don’t get me wrong – I love the iPhone. If I were asked, I’d probably say that it’s the best thing that has happened to geeks since microchips were invented. I feel that Android can become as evolved as it likes, but I’d still take the fruity bite of an iPhone over Google’s droid any day. However, for the life of me I cannot understand why Apple doesn’t enable T9 dialing in the native iPhone dialer app. I mean, how difficult is that, really? Even the most primitive phones – heck, even the feature phones – used to come with this basic necessity. Have you ever experienced how painful it is to lookup a contact using the Phone app on an iPhone before making a quick call? Since Apple hasn’t shown any love in that area, if you’re jailbroken, handyPhone can help.
This simple and free tweak exists for one reason, and that is to improve on the native Phone app on a jailbroken iPhone. The tweak has a toggle switch in the Settings app that, when enabled, will activate T9 input in the dialer, and PinYin input if you’re a Chinese user (the developer of the tweak is Chinese, I am guessing). That’s it – no frills attached T9 that will look up contacts matching your input and display them in an expandable list, making it infinitely easier to make calls on the iPhone. Oh, and if you’re a Chinese user, you can enable Area info as well, which will display the caller’s basic info based on area code (not tested here).
If you’re not interested in using T9 for a specific time period but don’t really want to disable it, there’s a helpful toggle added to the dialer as well which can control this for you.
handyPhone is one of those tweaks that make you thankful for having a jailbroken device, and make you wonder how you’ve lived so long without it. The tweak is available for free via the BigBoss repo over Cydia, and works well with iPhone 5s. Naturally, since it’s a Phone app centric tweak, it’s made only for iPhones.