Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Streets & Trips 2007 vs. Pocket Streets
I never understood why Microsoft kept creating new map file types with each new release of MapPoint/Streets & Trips that were incompatible with earlier versions of Pocket Streets. Now add one more data point to this sillyness. Microsoft stopped releasing Pocket Streets after the 2005 map editions. However, Streets & Trips 2007 can still create maps for Pocket Streets. The gotcha? It doesn't seem compatible with the version I'm running on my Windows Mobile 5 devices. Ah well. I really do need to find an affordable map applications for the Pocket PC and Smartphone that works with a Bluetooth GPS. Any recommendations?

Nokia N95
I finally saw the Nokia N95 smartphone up close and personal. And, it is quite a phone. The top (left in this phone) slides out to reveal the multimedia controls. The bottom (right on this photo) slides out to reveal a dialing keyboard. The lack of a QWERTY thumb keyboard is the only shortcoming to this otherwise remarkable looking phone. I wish Nokia had used an LCD soft keypad like Microsoft does in Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition devices and provided a pull out QWERTY keyboard at the bottom instead.

The web browser appeared to render much faster than my Windows Mobile Smartphone or Pocket PC Phone Edition devices. It uses a full-screen desktop-like view with a thumbnail navigation window that zooms in like the Microsoft Research Deepfish experimental browser does. Of course, the difference is that this is available in a production Nokia device. That said, the device is unavailable from carriers in the US at the moment. Navigation between applications seemed very crisp.

Speaking about applications, Nokia announced their Series 60 Web Runtime and Widgets for S60 phones today. I'll have more to say about that later.

Tellme By Mobile
Microsoft bought the telephony company (best known for its VoiceXML work and early telephone speech recognition work). Tellme announced Tellme By Mobile during a keynote demonstration at the Web 2.0 Expo this morning. This client side software provides some added features when using it with Tellme's backend voice server.

Couple of observations though. First, the service is only available to AT&T Wireless and Sprint PCS customers. The second observation is even more interesting for a Microsoft owned company though. Not being an AT&T or Sprint customer turned out to not be the main roadblock for me to try out this application. The problem is that I use devices based on Microsoft Windows Mobile which is not supported by the Microsoft owned Tellme application. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Doh!" So, if you are fortunate enough to own a supported phone (including models from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, and RIMM (as in Blackberry)), check out the Tellme application. It looked pretty impressive during the demo this morning.

A Few Thoughts on the Nokia Web Run-Time for S60
I saw a demo of the Nokia Web Run-Time for S60 (aka Widgets) this past Monday. It is an interesting development technology for the Nokia Series 60 (S60) based phones of the future (current S60 models will not support it). The idea is to leverage web developer skills to create applications for S60 phones. Applications are developed using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The source code is compiled, placed into a Zip file, and copied over to the phone for installation there.

It seems like a sure-fire way to encourage quick generation of new applications for the next S60 models. There are a couple of interesting issues though. First, given the inherent insecurity of most browser based applications, will the Web Run-Time create security issues for the S60 phones? Second, the apps are installed unsigned. This would seem to eliminate the possibility for those with restrictive mobile phone service providers from participating in the presumed burst of S60 applications. Finally, how will all those owners of current generation S60 phones feel about seeing cool new web applets appear that they can't use?

That said, I'm looking forward to seeing the S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 based phones appear with Web Run-Time. It might give Windows Mobile 6 and even the Apple iPhone a run for the money.

ActiveSync vs. Zone Alarm Revisited
Reader H.D. wrote: Just wanted to thank you for this post: ActiveSync 4.1 for Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 devices released. It might be old - but its just solved my Xda sync problem instantly. The MS site implied I was going to have to upgrade Zone Alarm.

Microsoft Windows seemingly unending exploits requiring firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, spam filters, and other security bandaids causes all kinds of problems for its users. My old (November 21, 2005) advice for getting ActiveSync to work with PCs running the Zone Alarm firewall seems to still have some useful information. If ActiveSync stops working, take a look at your various security options to see if one of them might be interfering with ActiveSync's network access.

I've found that after establishing a partnership between a PC and a Windows Mobile device, syncing wirelessly using Bluetooth seems to be more stable than syncing over USB for some devices (my i-Mate K-JAM locks ActiveSync when its syncs over USB but not over Bluetooth).