A few months ago I saw a quick demo of ZenZui on a Windows Mobile device. The name of the company and client has been changed to Zumobi and the beta is now rolled out for initial public trials. Zumobi lets you access and share web-based content using a new zooming tile interface. Mary Jo Foley mentioned the beta availability a couple of days ago and I was given access to the beta program that same day. I loaded it up on an HTC Touch Dual device and recorded the short video clip below of Zumobi in action.
Zumobi reminds me a bit of the Widsets application I used before on Nokia S60 3rd Edition devices, but has a more structure layout and consistent user interface. The first day I loaded Zumobi, it was quite slow on my T-Mobile EDGE data connection, but since that time it has sped up considerably. As you can see in the video Zumobi give you 16 available tiles to add content to and then these 16 are broken up into 4 quadrants. You then zoom in to one of the 4 quadrants and have 4 tiles to choose from. At this time you login to your account online and "send" the tiles you want to try to your mobile device. You will then find these tiles in your Zumobi inbox and then you select it and select where to place the tile (shown in my video). In the future (labeled as coming soon when you try it) you will be able to select tiles right from your mobile device.
Tile content consists of news, games, Flickr photo viewer, small apps (like a tip calculator), shopping sites (Amazon), sports, weather, and much more. You can see a sample of some that I loaded in my video. The application documentation states that Zumobi updates your content throughout the day with their background synchronization and I'll have to check out the impact of this on battery life and performance. If you use Zumobi, make sure you have an unlimited data connection too.
One other aspect of Zumobi that makes it a bit unique is the social aspect of it. You can easily share your tiles with other Zumobi members or friends who don't have Zumobi yet (they get an invite to download Zumobi). While Zumobi is planned to roll out on many mobile platforms, it currently runs only on Windows Mobile non-touch and touch screen devices. BlackBerry and J2ME rollout is expected in the second quarter of 2008. THe listed devices have been certified by Zumobi, Motorola Q, Samsung Blackjack, HTC Dash, and HTC Touch. I have used it on the HTC Touch Dual too and it works fine. I am going to try it on my T-Mobile Shadow and HTC Advantage to see how it performs as well. At this time, you also need a U.S. phone number to run Zumobi.
Many of the company executives are ex-Microsoft employees and bring a wealth of experience to the company so I look forward to the future of Zumobi as it moves through beta and into a full release.