Helio Diamant) When I first published my review of the Samsung
BlackJack, and told about my last visit to the US, I hinted that I was
planning to write a series of articles on my favorite Pocket PC
software running on a Smartphone.
As a veteran Pocket PC user, I have found, during the
last five years, the touch screen-based user interface to be a very
important part of my user experience, and for years never even
considered moving to a Smartphone without a touch screen. The change
began when I began noticing that most of my time with the i-mate JASJAR
(HTC Universal), I am using the keyboard and not the screen. Then I decided it
was the time to check how it goes with a Smartphone.
I bought the Samsung BlackJack in my last visit to the
US and began looking for software for it. For my surprise, my quest was
easy. Most of the software I was used to use in the Pocket PC was available
for Smartphones. The question then moved to the user experience Will it
be good enough? This is what I try to find in this series of articles.
I have chosen to begin with one of my favorites on the Pocket PC, ListPro by
. In the following you will see my notes on the user
experience, some screenshots and my conclusion about all of it.
The challenge in converting a Pocket PC application to
Smartphone is surely creating a User Interface that will be comfortable
enough to the one-handed button-only operation used in the Smartphone
platform, without the touch screen to which we are all used and without
removing from the software any of its functionality or ease-of-use.
ListPro is at the Pocket PC all I want in relation to
lists. I use it for packing lists before trips, for Supermarket lists,
tasks abroad, software to install after a PC format, etc. I would like to
find the same ease-of-operation in the Smartphone.
In the first screen, above, we can see the first
important point: all lists that were on my memory card from the Pocket
immediately opened on the Smartphone. Although this was expected, since
Ilium cares about compatibility in all platforms including the Desktop,
this is something I wanted to emphasize.
I opened my Supermarket list, and I see all the
departments of the store as I used to see before.
At this point, I would like to apologize for the fact
that all the screenshots are in Hebrew. Those are the real lists I have,
and the original article was written for my website which is all
conducted in this language. However, it is a good opportunity to say
that ListPro fully supports lists in other languages. In the case of
Hebrew, Arabic or Thai, it will not change the user interface into
Right-to-Left, but it will correctly display all the words in the right
This is the point in which the connection between
software and hardware begins to have effect in the user experience. You
can see above the Menu System of the software. It is fully usable
through the use of the scrolling wheel at the right side of the
BlackJack. I have also tested it with the MOTO Q and came to the
conclusion that any device that has a scrolling mechanism will be able
to operate the menus. On the BlackJack, pressing the scrolling wheel
will either operate the selection or open the submenu selected. In this
case, if I choose Expand Branch I will expand the contents of one of the
department like we see below:
Operation of the menus is very easy, everything is done
with the wheel:
Now, how do I update the flags and the checkboxes?
Easily as well. While the menu system is closed, the
wheel takes us from one record to another. When we arrive to the desired
record, we can use the gaming button in the top of the keyboard (the
multidirectional one around the OK button) to move around the fields in
the record. With that, we can stop at the "+" sign for Expand/Collapse
functionality, at the flag for flagging the item we want to purchase,
and at the checkbox to mark it has been done (in the case of the
Supermarket list, purchased). Standing at the desired field, we just
press the OK button to operate it.
As expected, we can also update the list in this version
of ListPro. We will use the update screen for that:
We can add or update records very easily, using the same
general rules for moving between records and fields.
It is quite strange for me to admit that I feel more
comfortable to operate ListPro in the Supermarket using the BlackJack
than using a Pocket PC like the JASJAR. While the operation is exactly as
easy as on the Pocket PC, it is quite a relieving experience not to have
all the public in the Supermarket looking at me and trying to understand
what I am holding in my hand. Besides, with the Smartphone I always have
one hand free for handling the products, and don't need to be all the
time putting the device in the Pocket and getting it back off it. From
this date, this is surely the platform I will use to manage my lists.
ListPro turns the phone into a much more usable tool. I
am sure there are those that will say they can do the same with Excel,
but in real time it is not the same. It is good to see a software which
is so fit to its platform that the only real usability point is how good
is the list you have created. I believe it is worth every cent of its
$29.95 list price.
Nowadays the only Smartphone sold in Israel is the MOTO Q,
and the software fits it like a glove. But I am sure that there are many
people walking around here with BlackJacks, or i-mate SP5s, or even the
new European Samsung S600. The software will fit them all. I don't
believe that nowadays I would compromise for a device without a full
keyboard, but I have checked and even in a device like that you will be
able to use your lists.
You can get all the details about ListPro for
Smartphone, download a trial version or purchase the software at the
Ilium Software website.
Helio Diamant is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Mobile and the founder and
Editor in Chief of "Pocket
PC Freak - Your Pocket PC Hebrew Site"