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REVIEW: Spb Software House Spb Mobile Shell Update Version 1.5
Posted by Heinz Burkart - on Tuesday, 19.06.07 - 15:53:02 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 24427x
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Spb Mobile Shell is a program designed to simplify your daily job with your Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition and Windows Mobile 6 Professional smartphones. While sitting on top of the Today screen, you can reach the most important functions and programs with 2 taps only. It dramatically improves the standard user interface and adds features that most users expect from a modern PDA phone.
Spb Mobile Shell is basically a collection of all Spb programs, but with less functionality and therefore easier to handle and integrates a program launcher, a clock showing 3 time zones and the next alarm, weather showing of one preselected city and a quick phone dialer with up to 5 contacts.

All these features are well known from other Spb programs like Pocket Plus, Phone Suite, Time und Weather. These programs have a lot more functions but are therefore more difficult to configure.

Now, Spb Software House introduced Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 which includes a couple of new features and enhancements:

  • New design of the "Now Screen"
  • The "Now Screen" is now shown on a locked device
  • The next upcoming alarm is shown on the "Now Screen"
  • 3 simple phone profiles are included
  • The "Spb Menu" can now be customized
  • Today plug-ins from third party companies are now supported
  • 2 additional contacts in the phone tab
  • 10,000 cities are now integrated in the weather tab

Please note, that the following review is limited to the most important new functions only.

New Now-Screen
During the installation the user now has the selection between 2 versions of the "Now Screen". "Classic" is identical with the previous version and "Professional" can display additional appointments and alarms:

Spb Mobile Shell Install

The next 2 pictures show the differences between the 2 versions. The professional screen depicts more information. As mentioned before the "Now Screen" is now also displayed on a locked device:

Spb Mobile Shell Now Classic Spb Mobile Shell Now Professional

Depending upon the number of appointments and alarms, the screen is automatically adjusted. The following picture depicts two appointments. Mobile Shell has automatically adjusted the view and reduced the calendar.

In the options you have the choice if the appointments of the next one, two or three weeks should be shown:

Spb Mobile Shell Now

I choose the automatic view. In my experience this worked very well.

Phone Profiles
In the new version of Mobile Shell 1.5 you have the choice between three phone profiles. Well, profile isn't really the right word for it. You can decide between "On", "Vibrate" and "Off". This doesn't sound like very much, but fits perfectly in the philosophy of Mobile Shell. Easy functions that are easy to handle. For more you always can use the Phone Suite in addition:

Spb Mobile Shell Phone Profile

Unfortunately, changing the phone profiles isn't easy to find. Neither does there exist a program icon nor an icon in the options. The easiest way for me is to create an accompanying shortcut in the program launcher. To do this, follow these steps:

Click on the right symbol in the "Now Screen" (loudspeaker symbol).

Spb Mobile Shell Now Icons

Thereafter this icon Spb Mobile Shell Phone Profile Icon appears in the program list of Mobile Shell. With tab & hold and then Pin "Phone Profiles" this function permanently stays in the launcher.

Spb Menu Customization
In the options, you can now decide which icons should appear in the Spb start menu.

Spb Mobile Shell Cust Menu Spb Mobile Shell Cust Menu

Support of Third Party Today Plug-ins
The new version ob Spb Mobile Shell now includes the possibility to add third party Today plug-ins to the main menu and of course this is a very useful feature. In the picture below you can see the integration of Spb Backup:

Spb Mobile Shell Today Default

Of course, I have tested this with some none Spb Today plug-ins and found no errors so far. All plug-ins have been shown and closed without any problems.

Two additional Contacts in the Quick Phone tab
There is not much to say about this new feature. Just look at the screenshots below. However, those who want to have more features have to use the Phone Suite.

Spb Mobile Shell Phone Dial Spb Mobile Shell Phone Dialing

Editors note: Phone numbers of mentioned persons have been changed by the editors. Similarities to non-existing persons are partly intended.

10,000 more Cities integrated in the Weather Tab
To make the weather tab easier to configure Spb integrated 10,000 cities. Now nearly everyone can find his own city:

Spb Mobile Shell Weather

Problems Found
Programs without errors do not exist. Therefore, the user will always find things which don't work as described. It is important to know where these errors exist and therefore we are reporting about them here.

Tests were performed using the most recent versions of Pocket Informant and Agenda Fusion. Installation occurred prior to and following the installation of Spb Mobile Shell.

In Mobile Shell appointments can be directly opened from the "Now Screen". Contacts can be edited directly from the phone tab. Of course Pocket Informant or Agenda Fusion should be started and not the integrated programs.

However, I found an error exactly in this function. If you have installed a third party PIM program and click on the default calendar icon, it starts e.g. Pocket Informant or Agenda Fusion instead of the built in calendar program.

If you now open an appointment from the "Now Screen", the built in calendar is started instead of Pocket Informant or Agenda Fusion. From then on the built in calendar will also be started if you click on the default calendar icon. This occurs until you soft reset your device. This definitely requires improvement.

Final Conclusion

After nearly six months Spb has released an update of the Mobile Shell, which not only contains error corrections and small improvements but also additional functions. With Mobile Shell, Spb has once more shown that its products are constantly being improved and expanded.

Version 1.5 of the Spb Mobile Shell is free to all owners of the previous version. The full version costs US$ 29.95 but as always, Spb Software House also offers a free trial version.

All together, Spb Mobile Shell 1.5 is definitely a worthwhile update.

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