Touch Weather for Windows Mobile review

One of the things I miss most about the default HTC HD2 home page is the animated weather (below) that the HTC Sense interface provides. Not only is it pretty but it’s intelligent, using GPS to find your location and GPRS/3G to download the local weather conditions and forecast.

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Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 does have a weather gadget but it’s not as comprehensive as the HTC version: it doesn’t include Anstruther, St Andrews or Selkirk. Instead I have to rely on the ‘nearby’ forecasts for Dundee or Edinburgh, which are just not accurate enough.

Touch Weather

Last night I discovered another weather application Touch Weather for Windows Mobile, which is a gorgeous, animated (with video effect snow, ran and clouds) weather application that pulls in data from any of six, international weather forecast sites:

so you should hopefully be able to include most places you’d want; the application claims to provide weather for 50,000+ locations worldwide. I certainly found Anstruther, St Andrews and Selkirk using AccuWeather.

I never worked out where there is a limit to the number of towns you can store at once but I’m delighted that I can easily switch between my usual three.

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Free and Pro versions

The application comes in two versions: free and pro. The free version provides an animated weather forecast for the current day only.

For US$9.98 you can upgrade to the pro version which gives you a detailed daily forecast (morning, afternoon, evening and night) as well as a more complete, seven day forecast. While running the free version you can trial the pro version for 14 days.

System requirements

Touch Weather runs on anything from Windows Mobile 5 PocketPC and Smartphone to Windows Mobile 6, 6.1 and 6.5 Classic, Standard and Professional versions.

It also supports the following resolutions (in pixels):

  • VGA 640 x 480
  • WVGA 800 x 480
  • qVGA 320 x 240
  • WqVGA  400 x 240
  • SqVGA 320 x 320

Data

Typically the data download per location has been around 180 KB which shouldn’t cost too much on a GPRS/3G data connection, and you have complete control over when and how it updates: manual or scheduled (every 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours).

Backgrounds

One really neat feature is the ability to customize the background. Touch Weather comes with six built-in panoramic images, and the option to use one of your own. This appears to be set per location. So, in theory, you could use a photograph of the location you’re pulling in the weather forecast for.

Looking at the six default panoramic images it would appear that dimensions should be at least 800 x 480 pixels, although the largest is 1600 x 1200.

Video demo

Here’s a video demo on YouTube of the interface, albeit in Russian.

Conclusion

While Touch Weather doesn’t show itself on the phone’s home screen, or integrate with Spb Mobile Shell, and it doesn’t use GPS to automatically determine your location such inconveniences are a small price to pay for such a beautiful, customizable weather forecast application. I’ll definitely be upgrading to the pro version when my 14 days trial expires.

Looks like there is a version for Android now too.

HTC HD2 v O2 Xda Zest: screen size

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Last week I upgraded from an O2 Xda Zest running Windows Mobile 6.1 to an HTC HD2 running Windows Mobile 6.5.

As you can see from the screenshot above, comparing screen size, I installed Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 which I prefer to the HTC Sense today screen, partly because of my familiarity with it but mostly because Spb Mobile Shell offers far greater customization than HTC Sense today does.

This weekend will be a good test of the HD2 as I take it with me to Luxembourg. As I write this (in Windows Live Writer 2011, by the way) I’m copying The Lord of the Rings trilogy to my phone in WMV format to watch on the journey.

I’ll write up a full review next week after I get back in Blighty.

By the way, I used MacX DVD Ripper Pro for Windows to convert it to Windows Mobile-friendly WMV format—rather than Spb Mobile DVD which is what I had been using until this week—but that’s also the topic for another blog post, methinks.

Mobile phone forgiveness–how I reinstall my PDA

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What better way to begin Lent than by offering your mobile phone complete forgiveness? It was getting slower and slower, and last week I was needing to soft-reset it every day or two.

So, last night I performed what is now becoming a six-monthly hard-reset and reinstallation of Windows Mobile 6.1 on my O2 Xda Zest.

Installation order

I’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art now, and simply need to follow the instructions on my custom-made Excel spreadsheet which tells me what to do and in what order.

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I have 5 main categories of actions:

  1. Hard reset which includes setting the date/time, the O2 Auto Installer, selecting the correct O2 network package (pay monthly), uninstalling the default (and outdated) Spb Mobile Shell and Opera.
  2. Connect to PC which includes connecting to my PC using Windows Mobile Device Center, and setting up Exchange.
  3. Basic Setup which includes setting up the owner (which is used by some software when registering applications), regional settings, calendar settings (week starts on Sunday, show 7-days, show half-hour slots, show week numbers, do not set reminders for new items), connect to WiFi, backlight and power settings (battery: 5 mins; external power: always on), change my ring tones, and schedule ActiveSync (set to manual and no email push service).
  4. Essential software which is now Spb Mobile Shell, Spb Wallet, SK Tools (for the registry editor), Opera Mobile, Microsoft MyPhone (to backup online my files, texts, photos, etc.), Agenda One (for improved handling of Outlook Tasks), CoPilot Live, moTweets (although I haven’t installed it this time and MyMobiler (so that I can view my mobile phone screen on my PC).
  5. Optional software which includes Pocket e-Sword bible, MobiPocket (eBook reader), DivX Mobile Player (for movies), FourWinds mahjong, Spb Keyboard, A-Z (Edinburgh, Glasgow and London).

This time I have purposely not reinstalled any of the optional software. Most of it I don’t use on a day-to-day basis so I just want to see how I get on without it.

Regional settings hack

By default in the UK regional settings the long date format is either

  • dd MMMM yyyy (e.g. 01 March 2011)
  • d MMMM yyyy (e.g. 1 March 2011)

but there is no option for including the day of the week. However, I discovered that if I did the following I could trick Windows Mobile 6.1 (and I’ve used this hack with earlier versions of Windows Mobile too) into using the format that I wanted:

  1. Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings.
  2. Set Region to English (United States).
  3. On the Date tab select dddd, dd MMMM yyyy from the drop-down.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Reboot Windows Mobile.
  6. Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings.
  7. Set Region to English (United Kingdom).
  8. Click OK.
  9. Reboot Windows Mobile.

If you now visit Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings you’ll see on the Region summary tab that the long date has remained in the format dddd, dd MMMM yyyy (e.g. Friday, 11 March 2011):

20110311-mobilephoneregionalsettings

Custom ring tones

The other thing that I have to remind myself every time I reinstall is where to store custom ringtones. I have two that I use an old phone ringtone for my calls, and the ‘24’ CTU phone ringtone for my text messages.

Once the files are in place I go to Start > Settings > Sounds & Notifications > Notifications tab to set the ringtones.

Phone ringtone

I have a .wma file that I drop into \Windows\Rings\ on my phone’s internal memory.

SMS ring tone

I have a .mp3 file that I drop into \Windows\ on my phone’s internal memory.

Conclusion

And that is pretty much it. It took me about two and a half hours to do, including backing up old files and photos from my Micro SD card.