The default Windows Mobile user interface isn’t ideal for the majority of daily mobile working tasks – it depends heavily on the stylus (or is you’re using a Smartphone, the D-pad), a hardware keyboard and in some cases very good eyesight.
As such, several developers have taken advantage of this to introduce alternative user interfaces for Windows Mobile devices. Given that the platform (while under supported in recent years) is the most versatile of all the flavours of mobile available, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Key among these developers is Spb Software, who over the last few years have released a succession of mobile shells for Windows Mobile. The latest of these is Spb Mobile Shell 3 which is available as a free 14 day trial from Spb Software, full price $29.95.
Configuring Spb Mobile Shell 3
Spb Mobile Shell 3 is the most popular of the Windows Mobile user interface enhancements, mostly due to it being so user friendly, easily configurable and requiring minimal resources. Once installed, there are several things that you may wish to do – such as manage your contacts or organise your mobile desktop.
Finger friendly and capable of being used almost exclusively without having to resort to any Windows Mobile index menus or settings (other than Pocket Outlook screens), Spb Mobile Shell 3 offers a smooth and well presented layout of all of your vital mobile information. A three-screen-wide desktop allows for the effective arrangement of favourite applications, tools and contacts, while a variety of different functions (address book, calendar, settings and others) can be accessed via a carousel system.
The first thing to do once you have installed Spb Mobile Shell 3 is to setup your desktop. There are two choices of desktop:
- The standard “Professional” look that displays time, calendar, upcoming appointments, weather and any email/SMS/missed call alerts,
- The “Lifestyle” layout which can be configured entirely to your requirements.
Spb Mobile Shell’s Lifestyle desktop offers the three-screen-wide option, allowing email notifications, widgets for launching favourite applications and much more to be displayed at the required position and size.
For instance to add a widget of your favourite Windows Mobile game to your Spb Mobile Shell 3 desktop view, press the Menu button on the lower right of the display, go to Add Widget and browse Applications -> Games. Once placed on the desktop you can also resize and reposition the widget before confirming the addition.
A range of standard widgets are available to begin with, such as analogue and digital clock types, calendar, messaging notifications and it’s also possible to change your desktop background.
To do this, press the Menu button on the lower right of the display and select Change Background. From here you can browse through images in the Spb Mobile Shell folder on your Windows Mobile device and select an image that suits. If you have images elsewhere on your phone to use, they will need to be copied to the Spb Mobile Shell folder which can be found in the Program Files folder on your phone.
Alternative Spb Mobile Shell 3 backgrounds can be downloaded from the website – 40 alternatives from the included 6 are available offering a range of scenery.
Add a Contact and Manage Widgets
Adding a shortcut to one of your contacts is simple too – press the Menu button on the lower right of the display and select Add Widget -> Shortcuts -> Contact.
The required contact will then appear on your Spb Mobile Shell 3 desktop – but if they haven’t got a photo assigned you’ll just see an outline and the contact name.
As with all desktop widgets in Spb Mobile Shell 3, you can move the contact to a different screen of your finger friendly scrolling desktop display, and resize it.
To do this, open the Menu again and select Edit Layout. From here, select the widget you want to change – you’ll see that it is now highlighted with a heavy white outline and a down-pointing white triangle. Touch the widget you want to adjust – a new menu will offer options to move it to a left or right page of the desktop, to display a text label for the widget or to resize it.
Spb Mobile Shell 3 is a superbly configurable interface for Windows Mobile devices that completely re-states what it means to use a Windows Phone device.