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Toshiba and SPB combine to improve the Windows Mobile interface


Guest deadphill
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Guest deadphill

Toshiba and SPB have teamed up to make a new front end to the recently launched Portege G810.

Working together, their goal it seems is to improve upon the windows mobile interface, much in the same way as HTC has tried to with the Touchflo and now TouchFlo 3D interface.

In the following quote from the announcement, it would suggest that rather than go the way of Apple and totally designing their intuitive interface for their iPhone, at this present time Microsoft are leaving it up to the OEM's and their partners to come up with their own alternatives.

From the SPB website:

Microsoft is committed to support a vibrant partner ecosystem and always delivers opportunities to create solutions that meet a wide range of Windows Mobile customers needs.

The Toshiba - Spb synergy is one good example of the rich benefits the Microsoft ecosystem secures to the market, where partners are able to complement each others strengths and deliver new innovative and rich experiences on Windows Mobile platform.

Its an interesting strategy, considering the shift recently in Smartphone OS's. Nokia buying out Symbian, and then releasing it for free, and then the upcoming release of Android from Google, compared with the pay for Windows Mobile OS which OEM's pay for and of course the wholey owned apple iPhone OS. I wonder in the future how they will feel about having to pay for a product that lacks in features compared to that of its opposition, especially if it is free?!

However, here are some screen shots from SPB of the plain WM6.1 screens compared to the partnership skins created:

03-Jul-2008_contact.png

03-Jul-2008_keyboard.png

03-Jul-2008_menu.png

03-Jul-2008_today.png

I think they are quite nice, but personally I'm not sure it compares with what HTC have done.

How do you think this compare to TouchFlo and TouchFlo 3D, or indeed is the iPhone style interface what you are craving for? Let us know your thoughts.

Phill

[Via: 4winmobile.com]

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Guest awarner (MVP)

Seeing how it works and feels in real life will be the challenge.

Is touchflo3D all it is really cracked up to be? Be good to see these two alongside the Samsung interface on the Omnia to give a real feel to the winner.

I wonder how long it will be for the other manufacturers to jump on the "iphone style" interface band wagon?

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Guest WearTheFoxHat

I agree with that.

Part of my search for the handset nirvana is:

A way to use the phone in a simple manner; check the time, be notified of SMS/email etc, reply to SMS quickly, use the phone feature. All of this with big buttons and large text etc. Simple to use while on the move, and don't need to stop for precise screen tapping.

BUT then, able to delve a level deeper and use it in a much more complex manner.

I suppose it's akin to the HTC Shift with SnapVue and the Full mode.

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Guest Damiantmc

Yeah, i've been using the SPB Mobile shell on and off for about a month now and I personally find it fantastic, much better to use quickly than standard windoms mobile!

Dunno how it'll comapre with touch flo 3d thou :D

Damian

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Guest Syphon Filter

Erm, it's basically SPB Mobile Shell and a skinned keyboard...what's the big deal? Mobile Shell has been around for ages...

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Guest Damiantmc

yeah but this is the first time its been incorperated as standard. Mobile shell is great, I know its been around ages but it increases useablity loads.

Don't get me wrong mobile shells not that new, its more the fact its standard rather than having to purchase it seperate

DTMc

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Guest deadphill

Hi guys

It was my first news post, and so I thought it was relevant to have something else to talk about instead of the touchflo on the diamond which is very much talked about recently.

I do think its relevant that Microsoft don't appear to be doing much, at least not on the surface, with their UI and the comments given by a representative go to show that at the moment they are happy for 3rd party's to lead the way. Perhaps that's how they will do it, in true MS style, take over that company that makes the best UI, and then incorporate it into their new windows mobile 7?

Cheers

Phill

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Guest Syphon Filter
Hi guys

It was my first news post, and so I thought it was relevant to have something else to talk about instead of the touchflo on the diamond which is very much talked about recently.

I do think its relevant that Microsoft don't appear to be doing much, at least not on the surface, with their UI and the comments given by a representative go to show that at the moment they are happy for 3rd party's to lead the way. Perhaps that's how they will do it, in true MS style, take over that company that makes the best UI, and then incorporate it into their new windows mobile 7?

Cheers

Phill

I meant no disrespect to you or your news post at all, sorry if it came across that way. I just dont really think that Toshiba putting SPB Mobile Shell really counts as innovation. It's like Dell installing Object Dock on their latest machines and making a big deal out of it. Anyone can do it.

What I find interesting is that since the iPhone came out (and to some extent before) people have been complaining that the Windows Mobile UI is outdated and difficult to navigate blah blah blah.

My take on this is that, while initially the WinMo UI might have been ok, it is indeed long in the tooth and could do with a breath of fresh air. But at the same time, the WinMo platform itself is solid and (relatively) reliable. Sure it has it's issues, it's a fairly complex platform compared to most mobile operating systems. But the platform is there, it has a full set of APIs and libraries. With that in mind, why are companies like Toshiba not following HTC's lead and developing their OWN kick ass UI's. Licensing a 3rd party app and slapping some customisation on it is all well and good, it gets the job done I suppose. But innovation it aint.

Now take HTC, on the other hand. They took a relatively big risk when they ditched their big distributors (imate, qtek etc) but obviously it was a calculated risk. But since then they have been upping their game consistently both with their devices AND their UI's. They have been developing and evolving their UI independantly, albeit taking direction from various other industry players (read: Apple and other simpler phone UI's). The home screen plugin, touchflo and now touchflo 3d. They have seen the light, sure the MS UI is shocking by todays standards...but the platform is there for the OEMs to do great things of their own. HTC is living proof of that.

So sure, Mobile Shell on a device is good but it's SPB's achievment. For Tosh to license and slap it on a device is just lazy on their part. HTC touchflo3d is taking the bull by the horns and producing something original and innovative.

Christ, I should work in marketing for HTC :D!!!

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Guest chucky.egg
but it increases useablity loads

As long as the device can handle it, so many devices seem to be under powered at the moment. Surely the 200MHz chip has earned its retirement by now!

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Guest Metoo
As long as the device can handle it, so many devices seem to be under powered at the moment. Surely the 200MHz chip has earned its retirement by now!

Mobile Shell 2 works fine on my 400MHz 9502, looks just like the pics on the 810 - and transforms the way I use it (plus it keeps me away from the awful D-Pad). It's much more responsive than HTC Flo - even the screen swipes seem more sensitive/reliable and animations faster. Maybe that's because the graphics are a bit less OTT than HTC's cube and the "lets try and be an iPhone" Manilla.

It's not just Shell though, the 810 also includes PocketPlus to give you the "flo" scrolling in most apps. However the Full Screen Keyboard sucks big style. What's the point of a keyboard if you can't see the page you're typing on? And there are inconsitencies with the products, e.g. the speed dials you put in the Favourites page are not replicated in the Today plugin, so you have to set everything up twice.

Not sure it's such a "first" though, didn't Eten bundle Mobile Shell (1.0) with some of their phones? And at the end of the day you've still got to deal with clunky WM underneath and Toshiba hardware. Have you seen the reports on battery life on this thing?

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Guest Syphon Filter
And at the end of the day you've still got to deal with clunky WM underneath and Toshiba hardware.

But that's the point, Windows is simply the platform.

Now don't quote me on this as I havnt seen the available API's first hand so I could be wrong, but seeing as HTC can read the messages and display them on tf3d I reckon there is one. Assume there is an API available for messaging (one of the devs, maybe Paul, could let us know if there is), the messaging app could be completely rewritten and skinned to work however you want.

HTC have gone half way IMO with the ability to display messages in tf3d, the next step would be that when writing a message you dont see the Windows side of it, just an HTC skinned and customised app. It's all possible but the OEMs have been lazy.

I don't know how big SPB are but with the way things are going and their obvious prowess at designing UI's and applications, I can see them getting bought out by an OEM in the not too distant future. Unless they are real grassroots guys and could resist a financially lucrative offer.

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Guest deadphill
I meant no disrespect to you or your news post at all, sorry if it came across that way. I just dont really think that Toshiba putting SPB Mobile Shell really counts as innovation. It's like Dell installing Object Dock on their latest machines and making a big deal out of it. Anyone can do it.

What I find interesting is that since the iPhone came out (and to some extent before) people have been complaining that the Windows Mobile UI is outdated and difficult to navigate blah blah blah.

My take on this is that, while initially the WinMo UI might have been ok, it is indeed long in the tooth and could do with a breath of fresh air. But at the same time, the WinMo platform itself is solid and (relatively) reliable. Sure it has it's issues, it's a fairly complex platform compared to most mobile operating systems. But the platform is there, it has a full set of APIs and libraries. With that in mind, why are companies like Toshiba not following HTC's lead and developing their OWN kick ass UI's. Licensing a 3rd party app and slapping some customisation on it is all well and good, it gets the job done I suppose. But innovation it aint.

Now take HTC, on the other hand. They took a relatively big risk when they ditched their big distributors (imate, qtek etc) but obviously it was a calculated risk. But since then they have been upping their game consistently both with their devices AND their UI's. They have been developing and evolving their UI independantly, albeit taking direction from various other industry players (read: Apple and other simpler phone UI's). The home screen plugin, touchflo and now touchflo 3d. They have seen the light, sure the MS UI is shocking by todays standards...but the platform is there for the OEMs to do great things of their own. HTC is living proof of that.

So sure, Mobile Shell on a device is good but it's SPB's achievment. For Tosh to license and slap it on a device is just lazy on their part. HTC touchflo3d is taking the bull by the horns and producing something original and innovative.

Christ, I should work in marketing for HTC :D !!!

No worries mate, none taken!

I agree, Toshiba are not exactly coming up their own imaginative skills to rectify fast what people are perceiving to be a problem with the WM OS. From everywhere I see on the net, Tosh seem to be making good devices and then failing badly on the implementation of the OS. I would imagine this is a first attempt to address this. Some could argue that Toshiba have not had the success and the exposure to the WM market as say HTC and therefore do not currently have the resources given to them to do this. HTC only make mobile devices, Toshiba's range is much bigger, so perhaps they dont lavish the same amount of money/energy at their mobile devices?

However part of the story for me was the fact that MS seem to be allowing and in fact encouraging the OEM's to develop the interface, which most would assume is up to MS. However there is the other side of the coin that says perhaps the OEM's should be doing this to fit in with the individual devices they release.

All of which I think is quite interesting, at least for a topic of discussion!

Cheers

Phill

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Guest Syphon Filter
...there is the other side of the coin that says perhaps the OEM's should be doing this to fit in with the individual devices they release.

That is exactly my point. They don't even need to go as far as having a different UI for every device they release. OEMs could create a generic device for their range or product families and just go with that. The point is, everyone is looking at MS and blaming the OS when in reality, if they really want to do something about it, the platform will fully support anything they may wish to do. This has been shown by companies like SPB and HTC, Asus and Gigabyte. These are starting to catch on and if the rest of the WinMo OEM community follows suit I think we have good things to look forward to.

It's too easy to build a device (these days all you need is an AIO radio chip, some processing power and a screen really), slap the WinMo OS on it and, in the words of Gordon Ramsey, be "DONE!" Then when people complain the GUI is crap to just blame MS.

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Guest Boinng

My problem with all of this (including Touchflo 3d) is I just hate this naff idea of running one interface on top of another, and "hiding" the actual UI that will always show through the surface in the end - when the "shell" inevitably crashes, or gets sent to the background, or fails to cover up some nuance or other.

Yes the WM UI could be improved, but until it is, that is the UI, there's no getting away from it - Touchflo, and SPB etc, are just applications running alongside it, trying to smother what the OS itself is trying to do and hide it all behind a pretty curtain. Silly.

I think things have to go one of two ways with WM7. Either they completely abstract the UI from the OS and its data, so the likes of HTC and Toshiba can genuinely replace the standard UI with their own (kind of like a really advanced theme), or they redesign the standard WM UI itself to bring it completely up to date, at which point all these little customisations and propietary apps will become redundant and unwanted by most people. I'm sure MS could manage that quite easily, if the will is there.

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Guest Syphon Filter
I think things have to go one of two ways with WM7. Either they completely abstract the UI from the OS and its data, so the likes of HTC and Toshiba can genuinely replace the standard UI with their own (kind of like a really advanced theme), or they redesign the standard WM UI itself to bring it completely up to date, at which point all these little customisations and propietary apps will become redundant and unwanted by most people. I'm sure MS could manage that quite easily, if the will is there.

It's pretty obvious (from the WinMo 7 screenshots) that MS are indeed updating their UI. But I think companies (mainly HTC) will continue to develop their own shells. Like I said, whats stopping anyone from creating better messaging/dialler/calculator/media/etc apps? The APIs are there and they do work. MS are not to blame if oyu ask me.

EDIT:

Why doesnt someone create LiteStep for WinMo!! That would totally kick ass.

Edited by Syphon Filter
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