For some weeks now, the xda is commercially available in the O2 countries Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland and since my exclusive preview from last year, not so much changed. Also because the xda is launched by O2 in every subsidiary, in general it looks equal everywhere, except the German one. That one comes with a Today screen plug-in called "Smart MenÃ¼" and parts of the Connectivity Suite. The xda Smart MenÃ¼ was developed closely by O2 Germany together with the German company V2R (Vision To Reality) while the Connectivity Suite is V2R's top selling configuration tool, which is also used by other network operators such as Vodafone.
The basic idea of the Start MenÃ¼ is to integrate more on the today screen than an information overview only. The Today screen is the best place to add additional functionalities like starting programs.
From the Smart MenÃ¼, the user is able to navigate through most of the standard Pocket PC applications as well as additional xda specific programs.
As you can see in the upper screenshot, above the standard Pocket PC information are additional shortcuts like "Office", "Tools" and others. This shortcuts are links which brings you to a new page with more options.
Additionally, O2 added some shortcuts to some major applications like the Pocket Internet Explorer or the WAP browser.
The idea behind the Connectivity Suite (CS) is to helps user setting up all its communication settings on an easy way. This means, that the carrier edition of CS is preloaded with all required information to setup E-Mail accounts as well as dial-up connections for CSD and GPRS and even HSCSD is supported. With its auto start routine, it installs right from a CF or SD card and the customer has to select the required parameters only.
Also included into the Connectivity Suite is a kind of Start Menu Light which integrates shortcuts to the most used Pocket PC online applications like Pocket Internet Explorer or Inbox, depending on the requirements of the operator.
The Connectivity Suite should become also available in a consumer version within this summer and can be downloaded from V2R's website.
It seems as the German product management at O2 really had a brainstorming when they've included the Smart MenÃ¼ into the German version of the xda.
A pre-version was already shown on CeBIT last year ;-) and was called "Offline Portal" at that time. Since this days, O2 went into the right direction by trying to give the customer the best user experience. Even if you are not a Pocket PC owner today, the Smart MenÃ¼ and the Connectivity Suite helps you to understand the O2 xda within minutes as it is simply "tap and run". Together with the Smart MenÃ¼, the Pocket PC typical Start button isn't required anymore - for preinstalled standard programs.
I hope to see the Smart MenÃ¼ available form V2R soon too and what I've heard from them, they are also working on a consumer version. Until this one is available, the German O2 xda Today screen is unique and O2 (Germany) did a real fine job!
Cheers ~ Arne
Related Links : [More Information]