The recent success of the Apple iPhone in the consumer market has created an interest in many Windows Mobile users to find ways to leverage the touch-screen interface of Windows Mobile Classic and Professional devices to gain a "finger-friendly" approach to interaction. HTC has introduced the "Touch FLO" approach with the HTC Cube and a specialized Today Screen, and other software vendors and developers have been experimenting with redesigned user interfaces. One such vendor moving to the forefront of this new user experience is VITO Technology. VITO has put together 3 specific applications in an attempt to "iPhone-ize" the Windows Mobile experience in FunContact, GoodWin and ZoomBoard.
In my first of 3 VITO product reviews, I found myself very impressed with VITO FunContact, which provides a "finger-firendly" interface to Outlook Mobile contact information. My next step was to try out GoodWin, a product that serves as a program launcher (and a bit more) using the same touch approach.
- Easy access to applications, settings and common functions;
- Large, readable text;
- "Wow-factor" screen animations.
Installation of GoodWin is very straight forward, with a desktop executable that installs the application in seconds. I encountered no issues.
Once installed, GoodWin is started from a standard application icon. When initially started, GoodWin presents a sort of "home screen" with current date and time, as well as indicators for battery, profile/volume and carrier. VITO once again has excelled in making these icons large and legible for the average user. In a nice bit of functionality, GoodWin also provides a "screen lock" function to avoid inadvertent screen touches while the device is in a pocket or holster.
As the imagery on the screen suggests, simply use a finger to touch and drag the lock icon and unlock the screen.
Once the GoodWin screen is unlocked, the main functionality of GoodWin is exposed.
GoodWin breaks down application launching into several main areas:
- The very top of the screen provides access to general phone information. You can press the power icon to see detailed battery information. Pressing the second icon allows you to change between ring, vibrate or silent settings. Pressing the signal strength icon will provide signal and carrier details. While all of these icons try to be finger-friendly, I must admit last "digitally-challenged" (read "large-fingered") people like myself had a bit of a problem here.
- The first set of buttons at the top of the screen provide access to commonly-used functions. You have access to SMS, mail and the phone. Unread messages counts are displayed if available. The clock icon will bring you back to the time and lock screen. All of these buttons were easily accessible to a finger touch and behaved as expected.
- The "Favorites and Running" section of the screen displays what it advertises; currently running applications and applications selected as "Favorites". For each of these applications, a simple press with your finger will switch to or launch the application. What is not obviously apparent, however, is that pressing and holding on an icon here (or in the general "Programs" section) will bring up a large and finger-friendly context menu. The menu options are sensitive to the application, and provide such options as "Run", "Close" or "Remove from Favorites". I found this menu to be highly useful when managing applications in memory.
- The "Programs" section provides access to applications installed on the device.Here is an area in which GoodWin shines, especially for people with a large number of applications. Each application icon is clearly displayed with a large and easily touched icon. Pressing and holding an icon brings up the context menu, allowing you to run, add the icon to favorites, close or even uninstall an application (if you had installed it versus a default device application). If you have a large number of applications, scrolling on the screen is performed by using a sweeping motion using your finger across the screen.
The scrolling animation was smooth on my device. As I mentioned in my review of FunContact, a small learning curve exists to make certain that you do not press on an icon (as thus launch an application). Within a matter of seconds, however, I was effortlessly scrolling up and down on the screen.
One limitation of GoodWin (in my opinion) relates to how it builds the list of applications for the "Programs" section. I am someone who commonly uses a file explorer application to create folders under the \Windows\Start Menu\Programs folder on the device. I then move icons from the Programs folder into these subfolders, thus making for less clutter in the Programs folder. Unfortunately, GoodWin does not leverage this organization, instead searching all the subfolders for applications and simply adding them to the "Programs" section. I would like to see some option in the future that would allow a user to honor this organizational method and allow for less scrolling.
- The "Settings" section of the screen provides access to the Settings applications for the device, again allowing for easy finger taps to launch.
- A menu button is located at the bottom of the screen, providing access to help information and a way of closing the GoodWin application.
From a usability standpoint, this was a minor annoyance when wanting to shut down GoodWin, as I had to scroll quite a ways to get to the button at a time where I simply wanted to close the application. However, the cool scrolling animation generally offset the extra work
Overall, the application performance was very good, and navigation to icons was fast and efficient. If I was not someone who used subfolders for application organization, I am certain the GoodWin would be a far faster way of launching my applications than the standard forms of navigation.
Pros and Cons
- Highly usable finger-friendly application launcher;
- Context menu provides faster access to certain tasks (application uninstall, for example) than standard methods;
- Nice animations and graphics.
- Program section does not honor use of folder organization of applications if it is used on the device;
- Closing the application can require significant scrolling to access the close function on the menu.
You can find out more about GoodWin and download a trial version at iWindowsMobile.com.
GoodWin does a really solid job of providing a finger-friendly interface for application launching and management. If you are looking for faster access to all of your applications and a sexy and "iPhone-like" interface complete with scrolling navigation, then GoodWin is a very solid option for your Windows Mobile device.