Here’s the weekly summary of a mix of Windows Mobile and general mobile tech related items from my personal blog.
Reader Tip:Omega One 1-Calc Lite Free from Microsoft
In response to a rant of mine, reader Thomas R. Hall pointed out that Microsoft has made Omega One’s 1-Calc Lite calculator available free of charge. You can find it at:
Applications for Windows Mobile: 1-Calc Lite
There are separate links for the Pocket PC and Smartphone versions (registration required). Try it and let me know what you think of it. Good enough to replace the Calc-98 I’ve been using for years?
SMS Notifier for Pocket PC
Here’s an interesting Open Source-ish app for Pocket PCs based on Windows Mobile 5 and .NET Compact Framework 2.0. The project description reads: SMS Notifier watches for incoming calls that are missed (i.e. not answered). Depending on configuration settings it does the following things: 1) Send an SMS message to the caller (configurable contents), possibly containing also the end time of current appointment (configurable). 2) Adds an item to calendar (containing the caller info).
You’ll find a CAB file installer at the page linked above (Microsoft’s CodePlex site).
More About the Zune Phone: Part II
My old friend Frank McPherson and I have some minor differences of opinion about the rumored Zune phone. He posted an interesting op-ed-piece in his blog about the rationale for a Zune phone. I responded in my blog. And, he volleyed another set of discussion items. To summarize Franks original points:
- The Zune Phone is in response to the Apple iPhone
- Microsoft Voice Command is the secret weapon to counter the iPhone’s multi-touch feature
- Microsoft doesn’t need a Zune Phone. It just needs to make the Windows Mobile Phone better
Frank fired back with a follow-up blog titled: More About Zune Phone.
As far as I can tell, I think Frank and are converging towards mostly agreement. The only remaining issue is Microsoft Voice Command. Voice Command is a Microsoft add-on application for Pocket PC/Phone Edition and Smartphone that provides voice command faetures. In other words, you can use specific words to launch applications or dial a phone by saying a person’s name or the individual phone number digits. It is not a continuous speech recognition system that lets you, for example, dictate your weekly report into a text editor. Like handwriting recognition, voice command recognition is just too error prone and requires a change to the way you speak. Depending on your microphone, you may also have issues with ambient noise levels. It is not something you can trust while, for example, running through a busy airport and trying to reschedule a connecting flight. Voice Command is not going to be the killer feature.
In fact, the Apple iPhone’s main issue may be its own high price and its mobile phone carrier choice which for the past few years had its shares of customer relationship management issues as well as a relatively high data plan for smartphone.
The Zune is a non-starter. It has not even dented the iPod’s market share. I doubt if a Zune Phone will do anything more than reduce the market share of Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile phone devices. That said, after my own irrational exhuberance about the Apple iPhone, I’m beginning to agree with other mobile device observers that the Apple iPhone may implode on itself if its initial rollout is not handled properly this summer. It should be interesting to watch what happens to the phone market this summer.
Handwriting Recognition is Not Ready for Prime Time Either
My previous blog dismissed Microsoft Voice Command as a useful tool under optimum conditions (something one blog reader disagrees with). Those of you use use Voice Command regularly and successfully probably also disagree with me. And, that is fine. I’ll chalk that up to differing user experiences.
The more surprising thing that occured to me as I wrote a response to the Voice Command fan is that Handwriting Recognition has also failed. I’m somewhat surprised to find myself saying this since I often use HWR myself daily. However, I only use it for short entries (entering a short calendar appointment). It is too slow and error prone for taking notes at a conference or during some other information-rich (take lots of notes) meeting.
The real slam against against HWR is the move towards mobile devices with thumb keyboards (following the lead of the Blackberry and Treo devices). The lack of update on the Tablet PC may be another indicator that the good ol’ QWERTY keyboard (whether full or thumb sized) still rules the input of data into computing devices.
Jott.com: Speech to Text via Email
In case you missed Frank McPherson’s comment on my previous blog rant on both speech and handwriting recognition losing to thumb keyboards…
Frank mentioned a web service I had not heard of before: Jott.com (not to be confused with JotSpot which has a jot.com URL).
Founded by two ex-Microsoft-ies, this web service lets you call it from your mobile phone, transforms your voice message into text, and then emails the text back to you.
I’m tempted to try it except for one little problem… I’m always leery of giving out my phone number to any web service. The thought of a security breach that reveals all phone numbers stored by a service or an errant piece of software that starts dialing madly concerns me a lot (obviously). The Jott service requires you to provide your phone number. It probably uses Caller ID to identify you to determine which email address to send text of your voice message.
If you are less paranoid than me and have tried this service, let me know how it is working for you.
BTW, you can find Frank’s own blog covering mobile technology at: Pocket pC Hints and Tips.