Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Truncated Menus on Smartphones with Landscape Screens
Truncated Calendar Menu
When the first Windows Mobile Smartphones came out way back in 2002, they all had Portrait oriented screens (screens that are taller than they are wide). That changed with Smartphones based on Windows Mobile 5 (one generation ago) when Landscape (wider than tall) and Square screens emerged. For those of us who went from a Portrait oriented phone (SDA for me) to a Landscape oriented one (Dash in my case), this meant that some of the full menus we used to see became truncated. However, it doesn't mean that you have to scroll down to see those now hidden options. The Calendar menu, for example, only shows the first 6 items (see image above). However, if you know the number of the hidden option, you can still select it without scrolling by pushing the associated button number. Option 7 in calendar is go to today's date. So, you can just press 7 and it will do the right thing even though you don't see it on the screen.
Microsoft Live Search for Mobile
Live Search main page
Microsoft released a new version of Microsoft Live Search for Mobile. You can aim your Pocket PC, Smartphone, J2ME enabled phone, or even a Blackberry at... check on client compatibility. I didn't expect to like it. But, it is actually pretty good and looks useful (i.e., it will stay on my phone). I installed it on a Dash Windows Mobile 6 smartphone. My home town isn't covered by the traffic service. So, I selected San Francisco to see what it looks like (see screen cap below).
Live Search traffic page
My Mobiler: Control Pocket PC from the Desktop (Freeware)
MyMobilier Remote Control
My Mobiler is a Windows Mobile freeware utility for the Pocket PC (and maybe the Smartphone?). I tried it using a Windows XP desktop PC and a Windows Mobile 6 Pocket PC. You can see the Pocket PC's screen displayed on my desktop in the image above. It has a unique installation that starts it up on the desktop and then automagically installs the Windows Mobile piece and starts it running. This freeware utility can copy and paste text between the desktop and the Pocket PC as well as drag and drop files (haven't tried that yet).
HTC Advantage 7500 Photos Look Pretty Good
HTC Advantage 7500 sample photo
I've been interested in cameraphone photography since the first time I tried a Nokia 3650 cameraphone way back in 2003 (The Nokia 3650 GSM/GPRS Phone with Camera, Bluetooth, and More). I also wrote a half dozen of the hacks in the cameraphone section of the book Digital Photography Hacks (2004). But, I've always readily admitted that cameraphone photos were nowhere near the quality of even low priced digital cameras. You just can't compare a glass lens device to a (usually) plastic lens device. However, cameraphone photos have been steadily improving over the years and are starting to look pretty good. The T-Mobile Dash I use as my day to day phone takes decent photos in daylight conditions. I just started taking photos with an HTC Advantage 7500 (a Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone Edition with a 3 megapixel camera). So far, I'm reasonably happy with what I've seen so far (see a shrunken version of a photo from the camera above). I'm planning to perform more testing of the 7500's still photo and video capabilities over the next couple of weeks and will post photos here and on other sites.
Cameraphone Evolution: HTC Advantage Close-up Shot
HTC Advantage 7500 photo of Altoids tin
Most cameraphones (at least the ones I've tried over the years) have limited the kinds of photos I take. Outdoor shots in bright but not too bright sunlight came out best. Indoor shots were grainy. And, close-up Macro type shots? Forget it. One of my early cameraphones (the MPx220?) had a flashlight sort of flash. But, it was essentially useless for indoor shots. I've heard great things about the various high-end cameraphones available outside of the US (or outside of my budget like the Nokia N95) but have not been able to test any. So, it has been very interesting to take the camera part of the HTC Advantage 7500 (Windows Mobile 5, the WM6 based 7501 is out now) through some tests.

The photo above was cropped and resized smaller to fit this blog. But, it is otherwise untouched. The original 3 megapixel photo was taken indoors. And, I used the 7500's flash feature to light the Altoid can (I just discovered this Dark Chocolate dipped Peppermint candy last week :-) . The 7500's autofocus feature seems to result in photos that are much much better than the usual photos I get from other cameraphones. I hope lower end cameraphones start getting these specs and features soon.
All New MSN Mobile?
Like many of you, I received the mass email announcing the all new MSN Mobile found at...

But, after a quick look, I can't figure out what is new about it. And, despite all my complaints during a beta testing phase earlier this year, it still has way too much white space that forces me to scroll way too much on a smartphone. For some reason, many of the major portals have adopted the use of enormous amounts of white space in their mobile portals that forces me to scroll up and down a lot. Google went from a fast clean design to a scroll-a-lot design. Yahoo did this too for some reason. I thought their previous mobile portal was the best designed in terms of a small, fast, clean mobile UI. Is the same consulting team providing this awful advice for all of these redesigns?