Category Archives: Handheld and Mobile World

Fabulous Handheld Spider

I’m getting ready to go on vacation, so of course I checked out new games I can load onto my Pocket PC and bring with me. I’ve been addicted to Spider on my PC for a few years now, but never found a good implementation of it on a handheld until now. But Astraware has finally done it – made a version of Spider that’s actually playable on a handheld.

It’s hard to do – the screen is small, and you can’t use handy keyboard shortcuts for hint or undo like you can on a desktop. But they’ve solved the problem with a mode that shows all available moves, so you don’t have to go to the menu to see each one (why didn’t Microsoft do this in their version? It’s so obvious once you think of it), and an Undo button right on the screen. The cards are as big as they can be, and the stacks resize as they fill up.

This is a lesson in usability for handheld developers. (No, I’m not playing games. I’m learning about usability. Really.) There are 12 different solitaire games in the package, and it looks like the others are just as well implemented. Brilliant job, Astraware. And thank you – the flights and airport are going to be a lot more bearable for me now.

“Windows Has Left the Building”

No, I’m not quoting one of the Microsoft-bashing sites. It’s not from one of the articles that says Microsoft’s lost their vision, is years behind Apple, or will never catch up with Google. It’s from Microsoft’s site – in fact, it’s from the biggest graphic on Microsoft.com’s top page today.

Here’s a screenshot of the page, in case it goes away by the time I finish writing this. The top graphic says:

Ladies and gentlemen, Windows has left the building.

I’m delighted that Windows Mobile is being featured by Microsoft. Really I am. But that headline – even with pictures of Windows Mobile devices and screens behind it – just doesn’t seem to me like the right approach.

I may be wrong. I’m a marketing professional only in the broadest definition (I get paid for it), but I’m not an expert, or even close. And I’m sure that the Microsoft spot has was made by very highly trained, experienced, knowledgeable people, who know way more than I do.

But I still don’t think it’s a good idea. Anyone else? I’d be very interested in hearing what other people think.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

June/July IssueThe next time you head on over to your neighborhood newsstand, bookstore, or wherever you go to grab the latest copies of your favorite magazines, be sure to pick up the June/July issue of Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine, which recently hit the shelves. Just look for the fancy pictures of the iPhone and the new Sony XPERIA X1 on the cover. The issue takes a look at the new device and sizes it up to the Apple iPhone.

But wait, there’s more! If you flip on over to page 34, you’ll find a wonderful review of a little something we like to call eWallet. It’s written by none other than expert reviewer Clinton Fitch, whose Windows Mobile news and reviews can be found all over the web, including his own site ClintonFitch.com and the Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine blog.

What’s that you say? You can’t run down to the corner store right now, and you’re just dying to read the review this second? Well, you can click this link right here, and read Clinton’s full article on the magazine’s website. Whether you read it online or in print, the article is packed with information about all the cool new features in eWallet 6.0, tips for using the program, as well as some nice screenshots and a shout-out to our world class tech support. We’re all pretty excited about this review, but quite frankly, eWallet has been acting like a bit of a diva around the office since it came out. There’s talk of it moving out to Hollywood now to start its own reality TV show, but I think that’ll go away after some of the newness dies down. Let’s hope so anyway.

A big thanks to Clinton and the magazine!

Worst New Mobile Idea Ever

skunk.gifNTT Communications has announced a pilot test of its new Mobile
Fragrance Communication service
. Apparently this lets people download a “Fragrance Playlist” of recipes for specific smells, and then transfers the fragrance data to a dedicated device similar to a plug-in air freshener that is loaded with a cartridge of base fragrances.

I know it’s tempting fate to call this the worst new mobile idea ever – it’s like calling a movie released in January the worst of the year; you just know something even nastier will come out and prove you wrong – but if someone’s going to come out with something worse than this, I really don’t want to know about it.

If this takes off, I may as well go turn myself in to the nearest police station, because the first time someone sits near to me in a restaurant, plane or theater and starts broadcasting their favorite smell, I’m going to get violent.

No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke, I checked.

New Windows Mobile Site: My Today Screen

mts.jpgIt’s April Fools’ Day, but this isn’t a joke: there’s a great new Windows Mobile site officially launching today. It’s called My Today Screen, and is run by Doug Goldring and Tariq Bamadhaj, two people with a lot of experience in the area. Their mission is to:

provide users with an all-in-one resource for Windows Mobile, providing reviews, tips, guides, and other expert analysis, all designed to help you realize the full potential of your Windows Mobile device.

I’m delighted to see a new Windows Mobile site – it seems like lately there haven’t been many new ones, and at least a few of the old favorites have gone away. This one looks very promising, and they’re giving away over $1000 in total prizes this week, so stop by and check it out! Maybe you’ll win something!

Some Useful Mobile Info

pda.gifI’ve always thought that the kind of information people need – and the way they want to get it – when they’re using a mobile device isn’t really the same as on the desktop. While I very much like being able to get any kind of info on my mobile, without having to go through a non-standard browser, I also like being able to find specifically what I’m looking for, without going through pages and pages of options.

At home or in the office, I like the pages and pages of options, at least a lot of the time, especially when I’m doing research, comparing products, or looking for very complete information about something.

But on the road, unless I’m just trying to waste fill time while I’m waiting for someone, I usually just want the answer to a question.

Here’s one site that agrees with me. It’s a collection of some of the info I might need the most when I’m travelling.

I’m sure there are others, but I’m not having much luck finding them. Any suggestions?

The Apple Time Warp

First and only Newton Developers’ ConferenceCleaning out my Big Drawer of Geeky T-Shirts (the new one that came out of my recent Google visit just refused to fit), I ran across my original Newton Developers’ Conference t-shirt. I’m pretty sure there was only the one conference, and yes, I was there. As the shirt says:

A smart step for Newton.
A giant leap in technology.

And a long time ago.

I think that if Apple pulls off the iPhone/iPod Touch third-party apps the way they might (and I know that’s an “if”, not a given), they’ll do what they tried to do 15 years ago with the Newton – make a PDA that’s really mainstream. And, no,
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eWallet for iPhone

iphone.jpgYep, as you have already heard, Ilium Software is definitely supporting the iPhone. In fact we’ve planned to support it for quite some time, but until the SDK went public we wanted to keep it quiet. As I mentioned over at JustAnotheriPhoneBlog, we actually started work on eWallet for iPhone earlier this year and have made significant progress. It’s a very exciting opportunity for us because we’re big fans of the iPhone. We feel that Apple really “got it right” in their design and user interface and the SDK announcement proves that they’ve followed the same philosophy when it comes to the support of 3rd party applications.

With that said, I’d like to take a minute just to answer some of the questions we’ve been getting about the iPhone and our support of it.

1. Will you still support Windows Mobile?
Absolutely. Just because we believe in the iPhone doesn’t mean we’ve lost faith in Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile does a lot of things really well, and it offers users a lot of flexibility. It’s an excellent platform and you will continue to see Ilium Software’s products developed for Windows Mobile.

2. What does this mean for the eWallet Companion web application?
Nothing will change here either. We’ve had a fantastic response to the web application and the philosophy that drove us to develop the eWallet Companion remains true. People aren’t content to wait until they are sitting in front of the “correct device” to get to their information. People want their information available all the time, wherever they go, regardless of the device they have in front of them. The eWallet Companion does exactly this and for that reason we fully intend to continue supporting its development.

3. Will you be developing ListPro, NewsBreak, DockWare, etc. for iPhone?
We’re definitely developing eWallet for iPhone. As for the others, I’d say “don’t be surprised if you see a strong and wide-ranging iPhone offering from Ilium Software.” We’ve got a lot of great applications and we think all of them would make fantastic iPhone products.

4. Will you make a Mac version?
I’m not allowed to give you a definite answer on that one yet, but as some technical types might already know, the iPhone and the Mac run very similar software. I’ll leave it at that for now. :)

5. What about the Touch?
At this point I see no reason why we won’t offer our applications on both the Touch as well as the iPhone.

6. When will it be available?
We expect to have eWallet for iPhone ready for you when the App Store goes live in June.

7. Will you let me know when you have iPhone software?
Absolutely! Just fill out this form to let us know that you’d like to be notified when we have an iPhone version of the software.

Thanks to everyone for their interest! We’ve been getting lots of emails asking us about this and its very exciting to know that as you guys move to new devices you want us to come along! We’ll do everything we can to make sure that we’ll always be there to help you find and organize your most important information!

PocketGear for Sale

forsale.gifMotricity, the owner of PocketGear.com, Smartphone.net and a few other mobile software portals, announced yesterday that they’re restructuring their company, laying off about 250 people, moving their headquarters, and selling their portal sites. Here’s the complete story.

I’d thought for months that they were going to drop software – they were just paying way to little attention to it, but then I went through some calculations and decided it had to be bringing in too much money for that. Which goes to prove – once again – that my instincts are a lot better than my math.

So – any thoughts on who might take it on? Guesses I’ve already seen include nobody, Palm, Microsoft, SPB and Handango. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict Digital River (and this is just guessing, I have no insider knowledge whatsoever).

Anyone else care to take a guess?