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Paul reviews... iWindowsMobile Communication Suite

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Welcome to my review of iWindowsMobile communication suite from MoDaCo partner VITO Technology.

About the product

iWindowsMobile Communication Suite from VITO Technology is a bundle / suite of their products, including Winterface, FunContact, SMS-Chat, ZoomBoard and Weather. Individually those applications retail for $19.95, $19.95, $14.95, $14.95 and $0 (that is $69.80), so the Communication Suite price of $39.95 is comparably good value. (Edit: There seems to be an automatic 15% discount on the site at the moment bringing the total cost down to $33.95!)

So what are the applications like? Let's run through them in order!


The pitch...

Winterface is the Next Generation Shell for Windows Mobile comprising the options of a launcher, a task manager, and multitude of Today plug-ins. Winterface virtually replaces default interface of touch screen Windows Mobile devices and gives the user unprecedented freedom to easily lay out interface exactly the way they like it.

- exclusive interface constructor

- task manager & launcher

- informative lockscreen

icons display actual info: weather, tasks, emails, memory, and many other

In my words...

If I were to describe Winterface simply, it's an iPhone UI for your Windows Mobile. :rolleyes: Now, that's no bad thing, the square icon based iPhone UI is very popular and very effective.

Running on my Touch HD, Winterface gives me a 4 columns x 5 row interface (a non widescreen device will get 4 columns x 4 rows) with a large number of standard icons for core functions on the device. As on the iPhone, some icons have additional dynamic information - for example the email icon shows how many unread mails are currently on the device, the Settings icon shows current network etc. The interface skin is a black background with white icons.

There are multiple pages for icons, and icons can be added, removed and rearranged as desired. The iPhone comparison is very apt here - when rearranging the icons, they 'wobble' as on the iPhone, and the drag - move action is the same too. Again, that's no bad thing, it works well :) Your own icons can be added for favourite applications, favourites, files, contacts etc. - very useful!

Winterface can be launched either by the standard icon, by a homescreen plugin, by a predefined upside down 'V' gesture anywhere in the device or when you turn your device on. An added benefit at power on is that Winterface has it's own 'slide to unlock' mode to prevent accidentally activation.

So what's it like?


It's nice that it doesn't completely replace your standard device UI (i.e. I can still use TF3D / Panels etc.) and there's a lot to be said for the simplicity of a UI where you can just click one button and get where you want to be. The buttons I use most are of course Email, SMS, BT toggle, Camera... Ah yes, on the HD having a quick button for 'Camera' is a godsend. Launching the camera through the Start Menu or TouchFlo 3D UI is too long winded, so Winterface provides a good solution.

What could be improved?

I'd like to see a way to skin Winterface. Although the standard UI is OK, on high resolution devices it's not as pretty as it is on (for example) QVGA devices (due to the scaling) - and a skinning option could improve this. I mentioned above about the slide to unlock type functionality. Although this is nice to have, you have to slide a little bit too far to unlock, the sensitivity of this could do with being changed. Not a big thing to fix for sure!


The pitch...

FunContact is a Windows Mobile contact manager that brings iPhone experience to your Pocket PC. Now you can scroll a contact list just with a flick of a finger. The animated windows switching and sparkling interface with bulging tap-ready buttons make contact managing a real fun! The touch & feel principle of FunContact makes it a truly indispensable Windows Mobile contact manager!

- Slide finger to scroll contact list

- Keypad & T9 contacts look up

- Instant access to favorites & call history

- Complete replacement of Windows Mobile default contacts

In my words...

Funcontact is a finger friendly way to access your contact list. As well all know the standard WinMo contacts application is hard work to navigate without a stylus and this is VITO's solution. As well as your contact list, Funcontact also has Call History functionality, a favourites list and even a replacement dialler!

So what's it like?

Actually, it's very good!

Running the application gives you your contact list, with an A-Z list on the right hand side of the screen that you can run your finger up and down to scroll your contacts. As well as that, there is kinetic style scrolling in the list itself. You can sort contacts by first name (by preference), by last name (default) or by company name. A favourites list, the replacement dialler and your call history are one click away. The application itself has either a black or grey skin.

Clicking a contact in the list brings up details on that contact with easy links for calling, SMSing, viewing that contact in the standard Windows Mobile UI or even editing the contact in a more finger friendly UI.

What could be improved?

Not a lot really! Again i'd like to see customisable skins for the application and a sharper UI on higher resolution devices, but on the whole FunContact is a very solid product.


The pitch...

SMS-Chat is a Windows Mobile SMS messenger that organizes your SMS correspondence into threaded SMS conversations. This way you have a separate chat for every contact with whom you exchange short text messages. You can easily follow a conversation scrolling thru chats with a finger: all messages are grouped by date. Manage your mobile texting with a flick of a finger!

- Templates for quick answers, smilies :(

- Forward, resend or delete messages

- Active links and phone numbers, onscreen alerts

- multiple sms sending

In my words...

SMS-Chat is a good-looking SMS replacement application. It has a black skin (with a selectable grey skin) in the style of the other iWMCS applications, and has some cool features such as finger-friendliness and emoticons. It integrates with Winterface, the shell discussed above.

So what's it like?

It has some nice features.

When you compose a new SMS, you get a Fun-Contact style scrollable contact list, and features such as emoticons are things that we've all wanted to see in WinMo for a long time! I like the way you can set up your own SMS templates.

Of course, SMS-Chat is of slightly less value if you have a WinMo 6.1 device that includes threaded messaging, but the inbuilt client - even in 6.1 - definitely has room for improvement!

What could be improved?

There are a few things i'd like to see changed / fixed in SMS-Chat.

On a high res device the emoticons appear at half size. More strangely, there seems to be an issue in that messages you compose in SMS-Chat don't appear to show in the threaded view of the standard client, which is odd... i've raised this with VITO and they're looking into it.

A cool feature addition would be the ability to define SMS groups, which would certainly elevate the status of the application to a must-have!


The pitch...

ZoomBoard is a high-tech onscreen keyboard for quick and accurate finger typing on Windows Mobile Pocket PC. ZoomBoard provides three different types of zooming. Every time you press a letter ZoomBoard either provides an instant zoom-in on the keyboard area under your finger in a popping-up lens or zooms the whole keyboard. Sliding technology allows for accurate and quick text input!

- Slide the screen for accurate typing

- 3 convenient zoom modes

- SmartZoom option for smart typing

In my words...

ZoomBoard is a replacement input method that gives you a QWERTY - with a difference! As you press the keys a little 'zoom' window appears so you can verify you're hitting the right key.

So what's it like?

Neat, but probably not for me.

The keyboard layout is sensible and as a QWERTY it works well, the 3 different zoom modes mean you are likely to find one that suits you. A dedicated button on the keyboard lets you switch to different layouts for other languages.

What could be improved?

One of the downsides of using ZoomBoard is that you lose the predictive text ability you get with the normal QWERTY. It would be great to see this incorporated and perhaps even the addition of 12 and 20 key predictive text modes. 2 default skins are available, downloadable / custom skins and layouts would be a definite benefit.


The pitch...

Weather is a Windows Mobile software for getting weather forecast right on your device. It has intuitive and finger-friendly interface. In Winterface weather icon shows either the degrees of the first city in the list or the image that shows whether it is cloudy, snowy, windy etc.

- Weather for 100% USA cities & all major world cities

- Forecasting for up to ten cities at the same time

- Fahrenheit or Celsius temperature

In my words...

This is a simple (but free) weather application with a UI consistent with other iWMCS applications and support for multiple cities.

So what's it like?

Simple but effective.

The application is very finger friendly, has large clear graphics and shows the weather forecast for today and tomorrow.

What could be improved?

I'd like to see more colourful icons and the ability to have a 5 day forecast rather than 2 days. It's not clear how often the application updates it's forecast, ideally this would be configurable too. [Edit: It updates each time you enter the application, and every 90 minutes if you keep it open.]


At $39.95, the iWindowsMobile communication suite packs a lot in for your money, and as stated at the start, offers good value compared to buying the components individually. The degree of benefit you'll get on the whole does depend somewhat on what device you're using and what that has preinstalled. For example, if you are using an device that has pretty much zero crossover from the standard apps to what iWMCS provides, then that's slightly different from someone using a HTC device, which already has enhanced input methods, Weather etc. That said, even with the fancy UI replacements from companies such as HTC, there are few that offer the one click usability and access to common functions that you get from Winterface.

All of the applications here have a demo version available, so head on over to the Communication Suite page and give it a go for yourself!

Don't forget each component is available seperately if you find one particularly useful.


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The Winterface app is definitely something I would be interested in (even though it is blatently ripping off the functionality of the iPhone - no bad thing as you mentioned.) I certainly won't be hurrying to buy though if the design is not optimised for VGA (or WVGA for the Touch HD). It's got to be eye candy to get on my HD!

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I have 2 days left on the trial of the suite and I am trying to decide weather to buy or not. I am running it from the storage card on an (Orange) TyTN II with Mobile 6.1 and it is commendably smooth, stable and fast enough that you don't start tapping your fingers.

I haven't tried the weather application and like Paul I would probably not bother with the keyboard although I found that the predictive text did work.

The phone and calendar are fine, but I have a couple of issues with the SMS-Chat. I am not yet convinced by the threaded format that is now standard in 6.1, so Vito are up against it before I start. Having said that the programme is smooth and does what it says. My only complaint is that you can't seem to access the spell check or the delivery receipt option.

The main shell is again smooth and fast and the "slide to unlock" feature is excellent. It would be better if the battery status icon took you to the power settings; I had to add that icon.

The only real problem I had with the main shell is that I have my phone set to lock if not used for 2 hours and you have to enter the pin to regain use. The shell seams to recognise this and doesn't present the "slide to unlock" feature, but masks the pin pad with the shells "home" screen. It didn't take me long to work out what was happening and if you can remember where the buttons are the pin pad does work, the number buttons showing as you press them.

Finally something killed a fully charged battery overnight on three occasions over the last 12 days. After the first time I made sure all applications were closed but it still happened again. It would be unfair to blame Vito for this as it has happened four or five times before since I got the phone last March for reasons I have yet to determine, but not so frequently. It may be the Vito software is "touching" something within the OS that causes this.

Typing this has probably convinced me not to buy, but I will look out for and trial the next version.

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