Coming to you live from CTIA…

By RJ Bardsley

This week I’ll be blogging from CTIA, the U.S. mobile industry’s leading conference. This show is particularly exciting from a media perspective, because there’s always a ton of very exciting product and technology news breaking.

OK – let’s get things started off with a little news from the big boys – specifically Microsoft. Microsoft today unveiled the long awaited Windows Mobile 6.1, the first major update release for the Windows Mobile 6 wave. Major improvements include a variety of new features and platform enhancements to increase productivity, improve the web surfing experience, and make it just plain easier to get up and running on Windows Mobile devices. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

A New Place to Call Home….Home Screen, that is…

With the release of Windows Mobile 6.1 comes a new plug-in based home screen layout. Microsoft is calling this user interface a Sliding Panel. Plug-ins will include clock, e-mail, calendar items, notifications (such as voicemail, missed calls, text messages), and Windows Live. If you’re a Windows Mobile 6.1 user you’ll also have the option to add in music and photos to that list. Here’s a sneak peek at the new homescreen courtesy of

view of wm homescreen from pocketnow

Threaded SMS

This might be arguably the most productivity enhancing element of 6.1. According to Microsoft, Threaded SMS enables messages between a user and a contact to be grouped into a thread for that contact. This enables phone users to view an inline thread of conversation while typing a new message. No more flipping back and forth between screens, and no more forgetting what you were responding to mid-text.

Zoom With a View

OK – full disclosure here. Zumobi is one of my clients, and one of my favorite mobile technologies to come out over the past year. So, I’m a little partial to the whole idea of a zooming user interface. That said, it looks like Microsoft has done an admirable job at bringing basic zooming functionality to its mobile browser.

Users can now get a “zoom” view while browsing Web pages in Internet Explorer Mobile, letting them zoom into particular parts of a Web page to improve readability and overall usability. The zoom feature offers five viewing sizes—largest, larger, default, smaller, and smallest. These are available in all three views— desktop, fit to screen, and one column.

More Goodies

There are a host of additional new features on Windows Mobile 6.1, including improved time settings, alarms, cut & paste functionality, auto complete for email, multi-select options, an improved task manager that lets users actively manage memory allotment, improved connectivity to open wi-fi networks, and a nifty Getting Started Center that helps first time users make the most of their devices. Bottom line – more cool, helpful stuff to make life on the road with a Windows Mobile device a lot better.

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