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COLUMN: My favorite Pocket PC Applications on the Smartphone – Today Ilium ListPro
Posted by Editorial - on Saturday, 05.05.07 - 11:53:17 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 15294x
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(By 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 Ilium Software. 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 PC and 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 direction.

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.

Final Conclusion

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"

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