New Xperia Panel SDK – OpenGL ES Support

Posted On: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A new version of the Panels SDK has been released and brings a major improvement; adding support for OpenGL ES! Yes, with this new version of the SDK, developers can add exciting 3D graphics to Xperia Panels by including a broad set of rendering, texture mapping, special effects and other powerful visualization functions.

The SDK also provides a graphics pipeline that allows free access to graphics hardware acceleration on the Xperia through the Panel interface.

Best of all, the SDK comes with new samples to get developers started with Panel development.

For more information or to download, head on here.

(Source: Xperia Blogger Relations Centre)


 

TouchFlo 3D (from Touch Pro 2) CABs now available

Posted On: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Have you been waiting for the new Touch Flo 3D cabs? Thanks to itje at XDA Forums, you don’t have to flash a cooked ROM onto your Xperia to get the new Touch Flo 3D experience anymore.

Although the cooked ROM is working perfectly, the CAB version of TF3D2 is reported to be problematic for most. From installation failing to errors on usage. So proceed with caution.

To download or more info, go here. Note: A lot of issues have been reported with these CABS – problems installing or problems starting. So do not download at the moment.


 

The next TouchFlo 3D experience – Comes to Xperia

Posted On: Monday, February 23, 2009

Update: Beta 2 of the cooked ROM has been released. Fixes the Contact tab issues and other minor bugs. It is by far the first cooked ROM that i am thinking of keeping!

You have no doubt heard of the new features coming to TouchFlo 3D in HTC Touch Diamond 2 and Touch Pro 2. Improvements and new functionality includes Facebook functionality, a deeper contacts integration, a new calendar tab, and most importantly, TouchFLO 3D now works in landscape.

To see the full list of changes, head on over to Pocket Now. Or to watch a demonstration of the new TouchFlo 3D on video, head on here.

When HTC showcased their new devices with the updated TouchFlo interface, someone at XDA Forums released a custom ROM for Touch HD that came pre-installed with it. Being the same resolution, i was expecting it to hit Xperia soon. And now, thanks to itje at XDA Forums, we have the new TouchFlo 3D ported onto Xperia. Head on over here for more information.

Note: This is not a final version of the upcoming TouchFlo 3D. I won’t recommend anyone to try and install a cooked ROM, so proceed with caution. (You will require to HardSPL your device in order to flash the cooked ROM)

I am in the process of downloading the cooked ROM and will be flashing it onto my Xperia real soon.

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Windows Mobile Congress 2009

Posted On: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

With Windows Mobile Congress 2009 in progress, things are getting extremely exciting. PocketNow has been extensively updating their site with news from WMC, head on over to their site and hit refresh every half an hour or so to get some new information. Below i’m going to highlight some of the stuff that you might like…

First things first: check out the Definitive Windows Mobile 6.5 Post-Release guide at Pocket Now.

Next, check out the introductory video of Windows Mobile 6.5 that was shown after Steve Ballmer’s keynote. To watch the entire webcast which features an on-hands preview of Windows Mobile 6.5, head on here.

And below is a demo of Windows Mobile 6.5 on HTC Touch Diamond 2! FYI – HTC CEO announced that those who purchase HTC Touch Diamond 2 and HTC Touch Pro 2 will get an update to Windows Mobile 6.5 for free!

The question i would like answered by Sony Ericsson is whether or not we will see Windows Mobile 6.5 on Xperia (officially)?


 

Boom Blox – An Addictive Game

Posted On: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Last night i came across Boom Blox for Pocket PC by Electronic Arts. The aim of the game is to solve puzzles by blasting and moving blocks in colorful 3D levels. Slide on ice blocks, blast blocks with bombs, bounce off springs, and more to level the playing field in this brain-twisting puzzle game. Featuring forty levels, the game offers the ability to create custom levels and post them online directly from your windows mobile challenging other players from around the globe with your dynamic puzzles or simply play other gamers’ creations and rate their work.

Blast ‘em with Boom Blox! To get the game, go here. The game is WVGA compatible – both in landscape and portrait.

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SPB Mobile Shell 3 – Raising the bar

Posted On: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SPB Mobile Shell has been one of the most used UI replacement application. Fast and sleek with smooth animations and the ability to easily create themes for the shell made it popular among all users of Windows Mobile users who wanted to escape the Windows Mobile interface or wanted an alternative interface for their device.

Recently SPB announced SPB Mobile Shell 3, and we finally get a small demonstration of what the new version has to offer. Beware all UI developers, the bar has been seriously risen! SPB Mobile Shell 3 is not only as smooth and sleek as before but it now includes tons of customizations, features, and way cooler animations. The question on my mind at this moment is; will SPB release a SPB Mobile Shell 3 Panel? I seriously hope so, but i doubt that it will come for free. :)

Check out the videos below…


 

Microsoft My Phone – In Action

Posted On: Monday, February 16, 2009

Microsoft’s My Phone portal is a backup service that helps Windows Mobile users by providing them a simple solution for backing up their personal information. The data is easily retrievable in case they have to hard-reset their mobile or purchase a new device.

The portal went (some-what) live yesterday for the public where they can register and be informed of when the beta becomes available publicly. Though there is no indication of the when it will actually be available publicly, however, during registration it also asks the user for an invitation code if they have one. Luckily for me, an acquaintance of mine was kind enough to get me an invitation code. And thus… here is an in-depth walkthrough of My Phone via a couple of screenshots.

After installing My Phone, starting up you get an introductory screen. You’ll be glad to know that My Phone is more than a contacts and calendar backup portal. It lets you synchronize your phone’s contacts, calendar, tasks, text messages, music, photos, videos, and other documents with your My Phone account. Could one ask for more? Wait! Yes! It also lets you synchronize your music, photos, videos, and documents from the storage card!

Screen01

After the introductory screen you get a license agreement. Read it and hit Accept.

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And then you set up your My Phone application by providing the windows live ID that was used to register for the My Phone service. (Note to all: this is registered to my account, and also is not a public beta. So i expect you to be patient and not send me requests to share the install CAB)

Screen04 Screen05

Next you get to choose whether you want My Phone to automatically synchronize every day (recommended for those with unlimited data plans) or to manually synchronize.

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Since i have my data syncing with my company’s Exchange Server account, My Phone does not enable synchronization of Contacts, Calendar, and Tasks. I can easily set it up later if i decide to end synchronization with Exchange Server. On the next screen i get to choose the data i want synchronized with My Phone – with only 200 MB per user at the moment, it doesn’t make much sense to synchronize Videos and Music… but hopefully we’ll see more space allocated to each user or the ability to purchase more space in the near future with the final release.

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That is all to configuring My Phone on your windows mobile device. You can now begin synchronizing your data with your My Phone account.

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The about dialog… :)

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And then, some screenshots of My Phone web-portal where you can easily access your backed up data and manage it.

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In conclusion i would just like to say that Microsoft My Phone service simply delivers the best solution. Enabling background synchronization, you can set it to automatically synchronize and never worry about loosing your precious data. My rating? A definite 5/5.

The only thing i would love to see in the final version is the ability select specific folders for Images, Videos, and Music files that are to be synchronized.


 

Windows Mobile 6.5 Beta 2 on Xperia

Posted On: Monday, February 16, 2009

When Beta 2 of Windows Mobile 6.5 hit HTC HD, it was given that it would show its face on Xperia soon. And the time has come. What is the difference between this beta over the previous one? It includes a couple of Windows Mobile 6.5 interface in raw format. I say raw in the sense that the interface though working is not optimized and is buggy, but it definitely gives a good indication of what is coming in Windows Mobile 6.5.

With Windows Mobile 6.5 being officially unveiled this week in the Windows Mobile Congress 2009, if it gets you excited enough, you might want to try out this beta. For me, i am going to try it out regardless of any announcements in the WMC. I’ll post my findings/xperiance with the beta 2 later this week as soon as i get the chance to flash it onto my device.

For more information or to download the ROM, thanks to itje at XDA developers, go here.

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4 new panels headed our way

Posted On: Monday, February 16, 2009

Sony Ericsson will be unveiling 4 new panels today in the Windows Mobile Congress. Finally a step in the right direction! But will they be worth it? You decide.

The panels include a Skype Panel which would probably bode well with any Skype users. Allowing you to easily call or IM any of your contacts easily, it promises to offer a pleasing UI.

The next panel is reported to be ‘On the road’. As the name suggests, this panel is specifically for when you are on the road providing you with bigger touch buttons and simplifying media streaming, GPS tools, and of course call management.

Another panel is by CNN which would deliver live news and weather directly to your Xperia. It will also feature access to CNN’s citizen journalism tool (i-report).

And finally the Mytopia panel. Poker or Bingo anyone? Yes. This will be the first gaming panel to hit Xperia. Well… i’m not entirely sure if it can be categorized as a gaming panel per se, since it is only reported to allow you access to the online bingo and poker games on mytopia.

No release date for these panels is announced yet, but are expected to be released sometime in late February or early March. For more information, head on here.


 

Delays…

Posted On: Monday, February 16, 2009

Xperiancers,

I wanted to apologize for not updating the blog in over a week as i was extremely busy with the job… however, get ready for some fun.

Windows Mobile Congress 2009 starts today and with it Microsoft will unveil Windows Mobile 6.5 which should drastically improve the interface as well as functionality of Windows Mobile devices. You have probably seen Windows Mobile 6.5 BETA screenshots around the internet and might also be aware of the beta being ported to Windows Mobile, are you excited about it? I guess the biggest question lingering in us Xperiancers’ minds is whether or not Sony Ericsson would release an official ROM for Xperia that moves us to Win Mobile 6.5 later this year when the retail version is released.

In other news, we definitely have a few panels heading our way. Not entirely what i was expecting, but it is a step in the right direction. And then there were a couple of utilities and software that i did test out in the last few days that i have been dying to talk about.

In short, definitely keep a lookout on the blog as i will try to post as frequently as possible. Adiós!


 

PointUI now available

Posted On: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hi all. Thanks to Johnny Boy (a reader of the blog) for the notification… PointUI is now available for download! And they supposedly have a Panel just for Xperia!

I’ll be downloading in a bit and will post in detail with screenshots later tonight this weekend. To grab it yourself, head on over to www.pointui.com.


 

Xperia Panels Competition comes to an end – What now?

Posted On: Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sony Ericsson content awards for 2008 have come to an end, and the winner of the best new Xperia Panel is SPB’s Traveler Panel!

This panel by SPB provides with a number of useful travelling tools including a currency converter, flight search, multi-time zone diary, and a phrasebook. Among other nominees were Evernote, Ping.fm, Mobisystems (for their English to Japanese dictionary), and PlusFourSize (for the Swedish operator 3’s panel).

Are these panels available? As far as i searched, neither could i find any mention of these on the respective company sites, nor were these panels located in the Panels section of Sony Ericsson’s Fun & Downloads page.

C’mon Sony Ericsson! Step it up. Where are all the panels that were supposed to be available? Maybe at-least support C#/VB.Net for the Panel SDK so that people can create panels with ease and quickly.


 

Resco Contact Manager – The Next Best Thing

Posted On: Monday, February 09, 2009

Xperia’s Dial-pad may look good, but the lack of functionality and the default Windows Mobile Contact Manager leave the whole experience quite empty. There are many alternative applications and skins to the default contact manager including Inesoft Phone, iContact, and a few others. In my opinion, IneSoft Phone has been the leader in the market with its easy to use Contact Manager that includes a profiler with a Today Plug-In. (For some screenshots of Inesoft Phone, check out my first post on the blog)

But now, the time has come for a change. Resco announced its Contact Manager application for Windows Mobile devices a couple of weeks back. And now, the beta is here. And the verdict is… it is simply one of the best (and fastest) contact manager application for Windows Mobile to be released.

Including Caller ID, SMS, Call History, Dial-pad, Favorites, a Contact Manager, and a Today Plug-In, the Beta release is far more powerful than most of the solutions out there and faster than any solution i have tested so far. (IneSoft is great in speed too, but would suffer from an occassional lag… Resco Contact Manager however has been working flawlessly since the moment i installed it onto my Xperia)

Works wonderfully on WVGA, in both landscape and portrait mode. Though it still needs a bit improvement here and there, which is understandable as it is a Beta release, but overall it is shaping up pretty great. Though the interface is sort of sleek and smooth, but hopefully we’ll see the ability to skin the interface too. To download the Beta, go here.

Update: PocketNow posted an in-depth review of Resco Contact Manager. Click here to be redirected to their site.

Some screenshots.

Since i had Bell UI running, i didn’t notice the Today Plug-In that came with Resco Contact Manager. Here are screenshots of the sleek looking plug-in taken after i turned off Bell UI:

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Move over TouchFlo, here comes the Bell Experience!

Posted On: Friday, February 06, 2009

Note: If you have installed the Bell UI onto your Xperia, then please share with all (via comments) the effect it has on the battery life of the device. For me it has come down to a full day of use with DirectPush, Wifi, etc. enabled along with Bell UI running.

FYI: I have been enjoying the Bell Xperiance since three days now and i have to say that it doesn’t disappoint. Though the media section’s links are all wrong, despite it is one of the best inteface out there, if not “the” best. And since day one, it has been running as smooth as it should. If anything, Bell UI is definitely getting me excited to get my hands on PointUI as soon as it is released.

To-date i was quite in awe of TouchFlo 3D. Okay so that is a bit over the top, but i seriously love the Weather tab on TF3D and slick animations here and there. But today i came across something known as the Bell UI or Bell Experience.

Bell (the Canadian company) announced a few months back that it would use its own innovative user interface, called Bell Experience, for its whole line-up of Windows Mobile smartphones. The so-called Bell Experience user-interface has been developed by Bell together with a well-known design company, PointUI. Yes! the same PointUI that is soon releasing PointUI Home 2.

In my opinion, Bell UI is far superior than TouchFlo 3D. This unique interface offers more than 60 ways to customize the Home screen using various combinations of 25 icons such as: headline sports, news, weather, horoscopes, email and more. The user can easily customize the main screen for quick access to features like live TV channels, music playlists, on-demand videos, radio channels, favorite contacts and applications.

Quote from Mark Arteaga’s Blog:

The Bell experience completely customizes the Windows Mobile home screen and attempts to make things a lot easier to access, improve the user experience from the standard Windows Mobile home screen and delivers content right to your Windows Mobile device. It also uses 'gestures' to slide content, scroll lists etc.

How does Bell display the content? They created what are called Bubbles, and with these Bubbles, Bell can display content selected by the user. It's a way to quickly access content important to you. Bell has developed this new user interface to try and promote Bell's Mobile Entertainment offerings services that they offer for example LiveTV for Windows Mobile. But they also have things like Headline News, Entertainment News, Business News and Music. The user interface also allows you to slide from bubble to bubble using gestures (sliding your finger across the screen) giving it a nice user interface effect.

You can easily customize what bubbles to show on your home screen removing any that don’t interest you. Furthermore, the Bell Experience makes accessing your applications and windows mobile settings easier than ever. For accessing applications you can either click the Menu button at the bottom to be presented with a grouped list of all the applications installed on your device such as Games, Photos, Email, etc. Or you could click on the favorite applications icon on the Home Screen and get a list of your favorite applications – which can be easily customized.

In a nutshell, Bell Experience takes Windows Mobile devices to a whole new level. It is definitely an eye-candy, but also a very powerful interface that showcases how flexible Windows Mobile is.

For more information on this new Bell interface, click here. For a thorough video demonstration of the interface by PocketNow, click here.

Excited? Wondering what this has to do with Xperia? Well… brace yourselves, the Bell UI is working beautifully on Xperia! I visited the XDA forum last night and noticed the line ‘BELL_UI 4.30 interface ported to vga & wvga device’ which got me excited enough to test it out. And it works flawlessly. No delays in animations. No performance hiccups.

The only two issues:

  • Wrong shortcuts in media.
  • Works in landscape, but back image is VGA. (look at screenshot below)

To download this awesome interface, go here. I love it more than TF3D – other than the weather tab! :)

Some screenshots…

And a screenshot of Bell Experience in Landscape…

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Power Button - Action Screen

Posted On: Friday, February 06, 2009

Smaberg at XDA Developers has released a 12-button action screen for Xperia for quick access to some of the basic tasks.

Installed to the main/phone memory, the action screen is automatically assigned to the Power Button. Invoked when the power-button is pressed for 3 seconds, it displays 12 quick-launch buttons:

  • E-Mail – Compose a new email message.
  • SMS – Compose a new SMS message.
  • MMS – Compose a new MMS.
  • Appointment – Add an appointment to your calendar.
  • Task – Add a new task.
  • Note – Add a new note.
  • Contact – Add a new contact.
  • Wifi – Toggle Wifi.
  • Bluetooth – Toggle Bluetooth.
  • Camera – Start camera.
  • Softreset – Restart the device.
  • Power Off – Turn off the device.

A very handy utility but the biggest drawback – doesn’t work in WVGA, does work but in 480x800 resolution rather than 800x480 (thus part of the action screen goes out of screen bounds. If you want to test it out, go here.

screenshot


 

Sunscape Lock for Windows Mobile

Posted On: Friday, February 06, 2009

Although Xperia provides the default Device Lock today plug-in, i never used it. Turning off the display was always good enough for me. Besides, the Device Lock plug-in didn’t appeal much when it came to functionality and looks.

But then last night i came across Sunscape. Sunscape is an open source lock application for Windows Mobile. Written in C#, it tries to allow the user to fully configure the screen locker down to the very last details as well as maintaining a small memory footprint and trying to be as compatible as possible with many different devices.

Sunscape includes an impressive set of features:

  • R2U (rub to unlock) and S2U (slide to unlock)
  • fully configurable interface (including graphics etc...) based on a documented XML file with configuration tool.
  • on screen display for time, date, appointments, alarms.
  • on screen display of battery, messages, notes, emails, signal, weather, etc...
  • uses pressure-points instead of "slide to unlock", future releases will include other nifty ways to unlock based on touch.
  • has a small memory footprint and triggers based on time and load opposed to OEM "backlight" triggers.
  • can hotswap portrait vs landscape, I.e., it will automatically switch to landscape or portrait mode on supported devices.
  • has separate configuration options for both modes portrait and landscape.
  • supports fully configurable full screen callerID and answer or reject by reaching a pressure point.

The default theme (Hooded Beauty) works good on WVGA. The Pipboy theme however comes with a fully compatible WVGA version. For more information and to download the Source+CAB, go here.

Some screenshots below (sorry for the low-quality capture, but the software i usually work with was having problems connecting to the device):

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New SMS – Mapping to a Soft Key

Posted On: Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thanks to Daniel Eriksson for the tip; if you want quick access to creating a new SMS then look no further.

You have no doubt noticed that assigning “Messaging” to a soft-key results in the messaging window to open – with SMS/MMS, email, and new email setup. You then click on SMS/MMS and from the menu select New –> SMS. Though not difficult to get to, when you need to SMS someone quickly it can no doubt be a bit annoying.

Mapping ‘New SMS’ to one of the soft-keys results in quicker SMS composing and a happier you. To do this all you need to do is create a Shortcut link to the tmail.exe file with the following signature:

“\Windows\tmail.exe” – service “SMS” –to “” –body “”

Then simply place the .lnk file to your ‘\Windows\Start Menu\Programs’ folder and assign the “New SMS” (or whatever the name of your .lnk file) to the proper soft key.

If you can’t get the .lnk file to work, then download it from here. (courtesy of Wensing at XDA Forums)

TIP: Placing the “New SMS.lnk” file into ‘\Windows\Start Menu\Programs’ will result it to appear in Programs screen. If you don’t want it to appear there, though you can use it to launch a new SMS from there as well, just set the hidden property of the .lnk file to true.


 

ShapeWriter now WVGA Compatible

Posted On: Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Today has been a good day. First i got my hands on an Alpha release of SkyFire that supports WVGA, and now Shapewriter!

If you remember my post about ShapeWriter and if you’ve been waiting for it to support WVGA, you’ll be happy to know that the guys at ShapeWriter have finally released a WVGA compatible version of their award winning keyboard.

ShapeWriter is the award winning keyboard solution for iPhone, which was recently released for Windows Mobile devices. The keyboard elevates touch screen devices to new levels of usability. Instead of “hunting and pecking” letters, single gestures on a touch keyboard produce an entire word. For example: a stroke that roughly connects the w, o, r and d keys is recognized by ShapeWriter’s intelligent algorithms as the word “word”. Experienced users can write much faster on ShapeWriter than on a conventional keyboard.

After having used this keyboard on both the iPhone and Xperia, all i can say is that this keyboard is simply amazing! I tried a couple of words and it barely missed any and always presented alternate choices if the automatically selected word was not the one intended. Give it a whirl, download here.


 

Xperia – Generic UK ROM Updated

Posted On: Sunday, February 01, 2009

Those Xperiancers who have the Generic UK ROM and have been holding out on updating their device in wait of the R2 release of the ROM can now breathe easy. Yes! Sony Ericsson has finally released the updated Generic UK ROM. Why the delay? No idea. I’m downloading the updated firmware now to move from the Vodafone UK R2 ROM to the Generic R2 ROM. To download, go here. (Thank you PavelX1 at XDA Forums for allowing easy access to these ROM files)