Review: Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 for Windows Mobile

Summary:One of the premier developers of Windows Mobile software is Spb Software House and over the past couple of years they have created a package that gives device owners complete control over customization of their devices. Today, we see the release of Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 and I have to say Spb Mobile Shell has completely replaced the HTC Touch FLO 3D interface on my T-Mobile Touch Pro2. While TF3D is a nice UI that most people will probably enjoy using, Spb Mobile Shell caters to us "tweakers" who like to fully optimize and customize our devices. This capability is a strength of Windows Mobile and as you can see in my image gallery and in the video walk through.

One of the premier developers of Windows Mobile software is Spb Software House and over the past couple of years they have created a package that gives device owners complete control over customization of their devices. Today, we see the release of Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 and I have to say Spb Mobile Shell has completely replaced the HTC Touch FLO 3D interface on my T-Mobile Touch Pro2. While TF3D is a nice UI that most people will probably enjoy using, Spb Mobile Shell caters to us "tweakers" who like to fully optimize and customize our devices. This capability is a strength of Windows Mobile and as you can see in my image gallery and in the video walk through below, Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 continues to improve and expand on the customization experience.


Image Gallery:Check out screenshots of Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 running on a T-Mobile Touch Pro2.
Image Gallery: 3D email viewer
Image Gallery: 3D carousel

Improvements in Spb Mobile Shell 3.5

I have been using Spb Mobile Shell 3.0 on my Touch Pro2 for a month or so and the main improvements and additions in this latest 3.5 release over the 3.0 release include the following:
  • Improved SPB Carousel design (e. g. added reflections and some additional interaction gestures)
  • Gravity sensor support in the SPB Carousel
  • 3D email viewer (similar to TF3D, but better)
  • 3D SMS viewer (with contact pictures)
  • New Add Widget dialog
  • Widget skin selection with preview
  • New widgets for Tasks, Picture Frame, Facebook Status, Twitter Status, Internet Search, and Birthday reminders
  • Option to have only one home screen (lifestyle or professional)
  • Option to change number of screens in lifestyle or professional layouts
  • Weather in Agenda
  • Improved design of most dialogs (popup menus, settings etc.)
  • Color themes support on Windows Mobile 6.5
  • Redesigned settings dialogs

Spb Mobile Shell is loaded as the default UI on the Pharos Traveler 137 and other Windows Mobile devices to provide an easy user interface for new owners. If it is not loaded on your device, you can try it out for 15 days for free or purchase it for $29.95. There are also some upgrade discount prices if you owned a previous version. The 3.5 upgrade is free for 3.0 owners too.

Favorite new widgets

While I like the idea of the email view in Touch FLO 3D, it has very limited functionality and shows you just a few lines of your email. The new 3D email viewer widget in Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 is much better, IMHO, because it gives you more of your email, lets you manage more aspects of your email right from the widget (reply, mark as read/unread, forward, and delete), and lets you much more easily switch between multiple email accounts (which most of us phone geeks have). I often delete emails after reading them or taking action and don't like having to manage these multiple times so this is a nice capability in Spb Mobile Shell 3.5. I would like to have the delete option available via tap and hold rather than the right soft key though.

I also like the new 3D text message widget that presents my text message conversations in contact organized fashion. Your last message with the contact is shown on the main widget screen, along with the contacts name and icon. You can reply right from the widget or tap it to jump into the WM threaded SMS program.

The new G-sensor enabled carousel is pretty slick and shows you how applications can be optimized to run fluidly on a Windows Mobile device. With the 3D accelerator setting turned on to "Yes" in the Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 system settings you can have fun with the carousel. This is easier to see in my video than trying to explain it so check it out there.

I primarily use the Lifestyle Layout in Spb Mobile Shell, but sometimes jump to the Professional Layout for viewing information in another manner. I was pleased to see Spb add widget support to the Professional Layout along with more layout editing capability.

Customization, usage, and other thoughts

I particularly enjoy the Contacts part of Spb Mobile Shell where you can setup speed dial photo contacts and then tapping on a contact gives you super fast access to SMS, MMS, email, and other numbers (home, cell, work) associated with each contact. Through just a couple taps you can communicate in a number of ways with that contact and I find it to be very efficient.

Twitter and Facebook widgets are provided and to use each of them you have to authorize Spb Mobile Shell to access these services. After authorization, you will be able to quickly update your status in either service right from your custom Spb Mobile Shell home screens.

I tried earlier versions, before 3.0, of Spb Mobile Shell and have to admit I was pretty overwhelmed by the customization options and it seemed like I could never figure out exactly where I was in the software. If you want an optimal user experience on your Windows Mobile device then I recommend spending some time with Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 because after initial setup and customization it can really provide you with an experience that lets you get to where you want to be quickly and more efficiently than using the default Windows Mobile UI system.

I tested this out on my new T-Mobile Touch Pro2, but according to the Spb website the software is compatible with the following devices:

  • Windows Mobile 5 Phone Edition
  • Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC
  • Windows Mobile 6 Classic
  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Classic
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional

Keep in mind that some of the 3D enhancements will not work unless the hardware supports it so while Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 will work on all of these platforms it may not have all of the features available.

Topics: Mobility, Collaboration, Hardware, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software, Wi-Fi, Windows

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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