Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

WiMo Smartphone 2 and 8 Keys Browser Navigation
Scrolling through a long web page on a Windows Mobile smarpthone (Standard Edition) can be a giant pain using the up or down arrows on a navigation pad. However, you can (sometimes) use the 2 and 8 keys to page up and down (respectively) through a web page in Internet Explorer. And, yes, it works on smartphones like the Dash with QWERTY thumb keyboards instead of a conventional numeric keypad.
Note that the 4 and 6 keys do not scroll left/right as they do when using Operamini. And, it doesn’t do anything on a Pocket PC (Professional Edition) - presumably because you can use a stylus to quickly move through a page. And, this keyboard trick doesn’t work on all pages. The infamously mobile device unfriendly website inexplicably grabs the keys to use with their little used bottom of page menu section (this doesn’t happen with a desktop PC, btw).

The Problem with Video Podcasts on a Windows Mobile Device
Video, unless specially prepared, is often an unsettling experience on a Windows Mobile device. Although I’ve been using Ilium Software’s NewsBreak since its 1.0 release, I only recently tried the podcast retrieval feature added (I think) with their 2.0 release. I decided to try the video podcast since it was included in Ilium’s default list. The video podcast looked like an old stop-motion movie when viewed on an HTC Vox smartphone. So, I decided to try it on a Dell Axim X50v. Although this is an older device, it still has a fast CPU and video accelerator. Video motion on this was much smoother than on the Vox with its relatively slow CPU. However, the video and audio were out of sync.

Although I haven’t tried to view this specific video podcast on an iPod video, I do subscribe to other video podcasts on the iPod and do not see any video or video/audio-sync issues on that device.

OutSync Syncs Facebook Photos to Outlook Contacts Entries
Microsoft’s Mel Sampat released a free utility called OutSync that syncs your Facebook contacts’ photos with Outlook. The side-effect for Windows Mobile users is that the photos become attached and visible to contacts on a smartphone. Of course, I consider ActiveSync and WMDC so flaky that I refuse to add anything that might even slightly upset the delicate balance and duct tape that appears to keep sync working for me (some of the time, anyway).

You can watch a video demo of this on

Priorities 1 and 2 for Windows Mobile 7 Should be Fixing IE and ActiveSync-WMDC
I was just thinking about Mel Sampat’s clever OutSync that I blogged about yesterday. Microsoft obviously has some bright and talented software developers in its ranks. And, you know what? I think none of them should be involved in cutting a single line of code for clever stuff like OutSync? Why? Microsoft should be focusing its energies on just two problems: First, fix the horror that should not be named but instead has two names: ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC). This has been broken since Windows CE Services 2.0 (1.0 was actually pretty stable) for a decade now and needs to be fixed. Second, Internet Explorer. IE for Windows Mobile is damaged goods. Operamini gives a much better visual experience but suffers from its Java roots that creates a keyboard navigation problem for those of us who expect certains keys (like Back) to behave a certain way. Who know what happened to the Microsoft Labs SeaDragon project? It made a splash and then disappeared.

In the meantime, the Apple iPod touch is on its way to customers in the next three or four weeks. And, since a lot of Windows Mobile users already carry an iPod for their music and video, it isn’t much of leap to think some percentage (like me) will swap out their old iPod for an iPod touch and start playing with Safari on it. From what I’ve seen on the iPhone, it looks like a pretty good mobile browsing experience.

iPod touch Support Area Went Live

iPod touch Support

…website went live. And, according to Engadget, units are showing up in Apple stores. My unit still hasn’t shipped. So, I guess I won’t be playing with one as soon as those you who are buying off the shelf. In the meantime, however, the 85 page iPod touch manual is available on Apple’s website as a PDF download.

The good news is that the support pages are up. The other good news is that the touch is so close to the iPhone that Apple is essentially repurposing its web pages for the touch. The bad news is that Apple didn’t bother to take out iPhone related references to things like the EDGE network or even the word iPhone out of the documentation pages.