The problem: one hand or two?
If you donít already know it, in my opinion, the Pocket PC Phone Edition is the future of the pocket PC. The platform offers the best features of the Pocket PC and the connected capabilities that cellular networks offer.
However, there are two main things that hold people back from buying a Pocket PC Phone Edition. The first is the size of Phone Edition devices. Until recently, they were all quite large. The second thing that holds people back from buying a Pocket PC Phone edition is the lack of one handed operation. Typically if you give up a traditional phone, you give up one handed operation.
The Phone dialer on the Phone edition can be used one handed - providing you have a long thumb and remember the phone number. Yeah right!
Sygics Mobile Contacts is a contacts application that can be used to supplement or replace the built in contacts application and to a certain extent the phone dialer.
How it works
.mobile Contacts automatically maps itself to the contacts hardware key on your device when you install it. From there, you simply tap the contacts button and you can start working with the application.
The real beauty of this application is that you simply swipe your thumb up and down your screen of contacts to move through the list. Itís like the entire contacts list is a scroll bar and your thumb moves it up and down, as your stylus normally would.
The contacts list shows only the contacts name and their primary contact method (e.g. email, mobile phone, etc). This keeps the contact list easy to work through, and displays a good number of contacts per screen. The size of each contact is large enough to be able to easily put your thumb on to select. This also means there is space between the contacts which makes them easier to read when you are flicking through them quickly.
On a phone - the thumb is king
The main design guide that has been applied in .mobile Contacts is the ability to do everything with your contacts with one hand free. This is the way we use a normal phone and is the way we can use the dialer (when not distracted or driving), but is not the norm for a Pocket PC Phone edition in general Ė especially not in contacts.
You can select a contact by tapping it with your thumb. When a contact is selected you can tap and hold the contact to show a context menu which will allow you to dial their number, initiate an SMS message, send email, move to another group, edit, delete or add a reminder for that contact. In my daily experience, this is more than I need. All the options in the context menu are big enough to be able to tap with your thumb comfortably, keeping the experience.
Contact context menu
Getting through your contacts
If you have a large number of contacts, you can skip to those starting with a particular letter of the alphabet by tapping the jump button which gives you all the letters of the alphabet to tap on. Tap the desired letter and the list skips to the contacts whose surname starts with that letter of the alphabet. I found that sometimes, it was quicker to tap the letter after the letter I really wanted. For example, I have a lot of contacts whose surname starts with B, so if I wanted to call one of the contacts whoís surname started with Bu (e.g. my wife), Iíd be better off tapping C and scrolling back two contacts than tapping B and scrolling forward 20 contacts.
The Jump button
Another feature of .mobile Contacts is the ability to group your contacts. By default you have the ďAllĒ group, which includes all your contacts, the VIP group and the Family, Friends and Work Groups. You can tap and hold a contact and select Move to group to switch the group that the contact appears in. When you select move to group from the contact menu, another menu appears with the names of the groups. Again, you can just tap the group you want to move it to with your thumb to change itís location.
There are a couple of caveats with the group system in .mobile Contacts in my opinion though. The first is that a contact can only be in one group. This is not a big deal in my opinion, but may be for others. I know in terms of categories, I have a number of contacts who are in multiple categories. This introduces my second caveat with the grouping system. I would have preferred the application to stick with the traditional system of using categories. As it is, the application forces you to use a small number of groups, which have no bearing on the categorization you spent hours working to perfect.
I did actually find the VIP group useful Ė for no other reason than it has a very small number of contacts in it. However, I tended to spend much of my time in the ďAllĒ group, rather than really using the groups that are built in. Having said that, navigating through your contacts is a breeze and I found it just as quick and easy to use the All group than any of the other groups.
Finally, Because the grouping system does not leverage the categories capabilities of Pocket Outlook, any effort you put in to grouping your contacts is lost when you do a hard reset. In addition, there is no export/import or backup/restore functionality, so you canít move your groups to another device either. If you are a GSM customer and have the ability to switch SIM cards and phones quickly, you may find repetitive grouping a daunting task. I have not finished grouping all the 600+ contacts I have in my list yet, and frankly, I think it comes down to only grouping the contacts you are working with on a day to day basis.
But is it a dialer?
.mobile Contacts also has some of features of a dialer. For instance, you can see your call log, missed calls, incoming and outgoing calls listed. However, there is no traditional phone keypad, so you canít tap in normal phone numbers using the application.
I donít regard this as a major oversight, but I mention it here, because some people are looking for a dialer replacement. As such it supplements the default dialer, but does not replace it.
When the phone rings, there is by default no photo attached to the contact. However, after installing .mobile Contacts, when the phone rings, there is a photo attached to the phone alert notification window.
You can set the picture for a photo by selecting the contact, then selecting the picture button and choosing one of the predefined images. There are 50 predefined images, most of which are cartoons. These are professionally created images and are all very nice.
Unfortunately however, Sygic have not provided a way to attach your own images and while the selection of default images is reasonable, this makes this feature limited, but no completely impractical.
The application seems to take a while to start Ė I can only guess that it is because it is written in .Net as the start time seems to be consistent with the .Net initialization time on other applications. Once started, you really want to make sure it doesnít close. I use Pocket Plus and Iíve added .mobile Contacts to my exceptions list, so that it minimizes when I tap the X button rather than closing.
If you use a Pocket PC Phone Edition, this application is definitely cool. The interface looks professional, is intuitive and easy to use, and it seriously enriches your contacts experience.
I really like the ability to flick through my contacts with my thumb and this is easily the best contacts experience Iíve have on a Pocket PC Phone! It has earned a permanent place on my device!