July 19, 2010, 12:28 PM — 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.
Wouldn't it be great if you could ditch your laptop, carry just your smartphone, and still be able to work in a Windows PC (or OS X or Linux) environment when you need to? You can do that, with the help of portable apps. In contrast to phone apps--which are designed to run on the handset itself, using the phone's hardware and operating system--portable apps run on a host computer, using the computer's RAM and display, but they save all their data and settings to your portable drive (or your phone's internal memory).
Here's how to take advantage of portable apps.
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.
Finding Windows XP/Vista/7 Portable Apps