Windows Mobile devices have been around for quite some time. It’s the whole “smartphone” concept that’s a relatively recent phenomenon. Nowadays folks are carrying phones that they use as PDAs, not PDAs that they can use to make phone calls. Inexplicably, instead of creating an interface that’s appropriate for a phone, Microsoft took the old standard PDA-style interface and slapped phone features on top to bring us the Windows Mobile 5 Phone Edition operating system that touchscreen smartphones now run. This makes these devices somewhat awkward to use on the go.
Spb Software has just released an application that understands that folks tend to use their phones one-handed, only reaching for the keyboard or stylus when absolutely necessary. It’s called Spb Mobile Shell, and it takes the best features of all of Spb’s most popular applications and combines them into a single, simplified package for $29.99.
The first thing you notice about Spb Mobile Shell is that it’s pretty. If you go for clean backgrounds with highly-rendered icons that look like they’d be at home on any Web 2.0 website, then you’ll love the Spb Mobile interface.
The “Now” screen lays over the cluttered Today screen with a simple view of what’s important…battery level, voice and text message indicators, signal strength, time and weather. It would be nice if this screen offered a view of available program and storage RAM, or the ability to select profiles (silent, vibrate, flight mode, etc.).
Behind this “Now” screen is a Today screen plug-in that includes a 5 day weather forecast, alarms and a simple launcher.
By far, the most useful aspect of Mobile Shell is the Spb Menu soft key which leads to large, easy-to-read and navigate icons representing those actions you’re most likely to take with your phone.
For example, under “Messenging” you can choose to create a new email and text message. “Internet” lets you navigate quickly to your Favorites or start a MSN Messenger session. All thumb-navigation friendly. You shouldn’t need that keyboard or stylus until you’re ready to type out your message.
If you’re looking for easy click-n-go navigation on your Windows Mobile 5 touchscreen phone, then Spb is on the right track with Mobile Shell. It may be a bit overpriced at $29.99, especially considering the fact that it’s 1.0 software with some missing functionality. The ability to integrate with popular PIM applications like PocketInformant and other customization features are still coming, according to postings on the support forum.