HTC Touch Pro – TouchFlo 3D

While one of the main reasons why I got a Windows Mobile devices is that I can fully customize it, the default set of software that came with the HTC Touch Pro is definitely above and beyond what HTC has previously released with. The three that come to mind are TouchFlo 3D, Opera 9.5 and YouTube.

Let’s face it – while the Windows Mobile platform is extremely pragmatic, it is just plain old boring. It looks, feels and acts like the Windows desktop. To give Microsoft some credit, it was the differentiator between Palm and itself. The strategy was to bring a subset of the desktop to a mobile platform. The end result is what we have here. Along comes iPhone to change the mobile space altogether. So this is where TouchFlo 3D comes in.

TouchFlo 3D is a very slick implementation of a dashboard. At the bottom of the screen, you have a menu bar which you scroll around with by pressing your finger down and sliding across with it. Some people love it and some hate it. I am in the former camp. It has a total of 11 modules; each with it’s own gesture and animation.

You start at the Home module with your time, missed calls and next appointment. It’s a simple view of what’s going on now. With a flick upwards, the clock gets smaller and you see more appointments. Usually around 3.

Next is the Favorite Contacts module. It is basically a speed dial and looks like a Rolodex. Flicking up and down basically flips the Rolodex. Pictures are added automatically if your contact is associated with a photo in the addressbook. Unfortunately, the photo stored by Pocket Outlook is very small and gets grainy when it gets displayed by TouchFlo. Apparently the workaround is to associate it with a local photo instead.

The messages module gives you access to your sms messages. The flick up and down lets you flow through your incoming texts. Tapping on a message brings you to the threaded text message view in native Windows Mobile 6.1. I like the fact that through the menu screen, I can reply and delete messages right from there. To me, this is one of the more complete modules in TouchFlo 3D.

It’s a completely different story for the E-mail module. I like the envelope and that it only gives a summary of the message. There are tabs on the right hand side that you can select the appropriate account and flicking the email up and down scrolls through your messages. What makes no sense for me is that the interactivity expected is to create more e-mail accounts. I would have expected that you would provide the most frequently used functions at this level. Creating new email accounts just isn’t it. When you click on the email, it takes you back to the email but you can’t really delete it. To delete an email, you click on the Inbox and then delete it from there.

I love the fact th
at they have integrated Opera directly into the Today TouchFlo 3D modules.

The music module is another frustrating implementation. It’s pretty but does not work the way I would have expected it to. It lists all of the music on your device by default which makes
sense. I would have expected it to limit my view to only music on my playlist once it’s been selected. It doesn’t seem to do  that.

The picture module is well thought out for me. It lists all of your photos, you flick through them to scan them and clicking on it takes you    to the full screen version on your photo. What’s neat about the photo is that moving your finger around the circle zooms in and out of the photo. Definitely full featured and intuitive in my books.

The weather module is simple and elegant. It is the one module that shows off how gorgeous the screen on the TouchPro really is. The gestures are simple – flick up and down to sroll through cities you’ve selected. The animation is very slick. My favorite is the rainy day one. It starts off with your screen looking like it’s been splashed with rain drops followed by a wiper wiping the screen. It’s just something you have to see in person.

Settings screen is not particularly interesting. Only thing I really use it for is to access the the comm manager and the program launcher launches programs. The program launcher is limited to 18 applications which is plenty. You can further access other programs by hitting the soft key that says All Programs.

For the Windows platform, TouchFlo 3D is phoenomenal. Yes, it can be gimicky but so is the iPhone. TouchFlo 3D is by far the best looking interface to date for Windows. What it suffers from is that it is a layer on top of the native Windows UI so it suffers from some overhead to load it up when it first starts. It also comes down to a crushing reality when you have to launch other Windows apps when
TouchFlo 3D is implemented as a Today Screen plug-in. Once Windows Mobile launches, it then loads TouchFlo 3D making it a very long boot up.

TouchFlo also seems fragile to me. I tried playing with the tweaks that I found on the web and kept running into “manila.exe” failures often. I then decided to re-flash the ROM and it’s been more stable ever since. I have only run into problems with Dashwire with TouchFlo. The failure for the most part is not catastrophic but it is annoying. For some reason after it crashes, it kicks in the home screen whenever you have to type something in a text box.

Many people have said that after a while, I would get rid of TouchFlo. Assuming that it doesn’t crash as often as it has been doing, I like the interface. It is actually intuitive and simple to use.

Sent from my HTC Touch Pro®

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