Customize your Windows Mobile interface - Mobile Minute
First off, I'm going to ignore some of the more popular programs like Wisbar Advance. It's an excellent program, but I wanted to highlight some of the free alternatives.
RE's Launcher and Unlocker (Shown above)
We mentioned RE's launcher and Unlocker last week. The controversial programs are designed to resemble Apple's iPhone interface. While there are several similar programs floating around, this one's intriguing because an intellectual property lawyer has decided to host the files on his site as lawsuit-bait for Apple. He's hoping to prove the program does not infringe on any copyrights.
Anyway, the program doesn't turn your Windows Mobile phone or PDA into an iPhone. Each of the buttons links to a program you've already got on your device. Click on "web," and Pocket Internet Explorer opens up. "Calendar" brings up your Windows Mobile calendar, and so on.
The source code is available if you want to customize the links, which might be necessary, as I found that many of the icons point to programs I don't have installed on my device.
Installation is pretty simple. All you have to do is copy about 4.5MB of files to your device. You can put them anywhere, even on a storage card. Then click the program to start Launcher or the Slide/Unlocker program. If you want RE's Launcher to pop up every time you do a soft reset, just create a shortcut and copy it to the Windows/Startup folder.
File FloatMe under the "because we can" category. It's a pretty nifty program that lets you treat each of your open applications on a Windows Mobile device a bit more like Windows on a desktop. But it's not particularly useful.
Sure, it's kind of cool to think that you can minimize, resize, and maximize windows on a PDA the same way you can on a desktop. But PDAs have tiny screens. There's not much need to see things like your calculator, web browser, or word processor in a smaller screen.
It's also a little tricky to get used to resizing the windows. Still, FloatMe's pretty cool if you want to be able to look at two windows at the same time. And the program's a nice proof of concept to show that you don't have to accept the default interface Microsoft has placed on the Windows Mobile environment.
Windows Mobile comes with a setting that lets you view upcoming appointments and tasks on your Today screen. But the plugins are rather sparse. The tasks plugin, for example only show you how many tasks you have. You have to click on the button to see what they actually are.
TodayAgenda is a powerful and highly customizable Today Screen plugin that lets you view detailed information about appointments and tasks. You can set it to work with alternate calendar programs like Pocket Informant or Agenda Fusion.
You can choose how many days worth of data to view, how many lines of data to display, whether to use word wrap, and whether to display public, private, free, or all day appointments.
TodayAgenda even lets you customize colors and fonts. This may be the only Today Screen plugin you'll ever need.
UI Tweaker is handy tool for changing the look and feel of your WM2003 or later device. It includes four modules:
- PT Explorer lets you easily locate all the Windows Mobile themes on your device and storage cards. Sure, you could just save them all in the same folder, but PT Explorer makes it easy to switch between themes if you're less than organized.
- TdyScheme Changer lets you change the color scheme on the Today Screen. You can change the color of text, the horizontal bar, the taskbar, and even the dots that pop up when you click tap and hold.
- SysColor Changer lets you change colors of your overall color scheme, not just your Today Screen. That includes the color of the scroll bar, title bar, window frames, menu text, etc.
- WM5Color Changer lets you, you guessed it, change color schemes on Windows Mobile 5.0 devices.
Tweaks2k2 gets all the attention when it comes to Pocket PC and Windows Mobile registry hacks. The commercial program has a free version with about 40 registry hacks, representing about a third of what you get with the paid version.
But there's another free utility called Pocket Tweak that's been one of the first things I've installed on my past 5 or 6 PDAs. While it's not as powerful as Tweaks2k2 by a longshot, Pocket Tweak has an easy to follow interface, and includes some very useful tools.
- Turn window animation on and off
- Edit file associations
- Change system and menu fonts
- Modify scrollbar sizes
- Choose which text input methods to display, and which to make your default
If you want to completely redesign the way your Windows Mobile device looks and operates, your best bet might still be to check out commercial applications like Pocket Breeze or Wisbar Advance. But if you're willing to spend some time playing around with the free tools available, you can dramatically change your device's user interface, often for the better.