Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Diamond TIP: new menu for your home screen

Click to enlarge pictureIf you have used Windows Mobile 2003 or earlier, you will probably know what the "new menu" was and how useful it had been. For those who have not, it is basically a way to quickly create a new document (e.g. word, excel, note, email, sms) via a popup menu that is triggered by tapping on the text "New" found at the bottom of the home screen. (See screenshot on the right)

Unfortunately, this nifty little feature was removed from Windows Mobile 5 and up. (Thats a -1 for you Microsoft.) The good news is that useful features like this don't go away; they just get reintroduced via third parties.

Click to enlarge pictureThe first application that does this is called WM5NewMenu by a developer named Saman. It started out as a direct replacement for the old functionality but has now grown to be a very powerful and highly configurable utility that can launch pretty much anything that you can think of. (See screenshot on left. More screenshots here). Best of all, it remains a freeware even today.

It has served me well back in my 838 pro days but unfortunately, the look and feel just don't jive with the snazzy TouchFlo UI. As luck would have it, HTC had a similar feature called the "Action Screen" in the Touch model (+1 HTC!) and it has been ported over to the Diamond by the guys at xda-developers (+2 XDA Developers!)! So now, we get the best of both worlds; the new menu functionality in cool graphics!

Click to enlarge pictureClick to enlarge pictureThere are currently two layouts available; the first and original being the row layout (screenshot on far right) and the latest being the grid layout (screenshot on right) ala the upcoming HTC Touch Pro.

Personally, I like the latter better as it allows up to nine items instead of seven in the row layout.

Can things get any better than this? Yes! If you are like me, using a third party PIM (like the excellent Pocket Informant), you can customize Action Screen to launch the appropriate screens in your third party applications! In fact, you can even change the buttons and the related actions totally! For details, look here.

If you are lazy and just want to get it working with Pocket Informant, here's how:
  • New Note - Change registry value for the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\HTC\Biotouch\ActionScreen\APP_2\Path to \Program Files\WebIS\PocketInformant\PIAlarmNoteCreate.exe
  • New Appointment - Change registry value for the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\HTC\Biotouch\ActionScreen\APP_3\Path to \Program Files\WebIS\PocketInformant\PocketInformant.exe
  • New Task - Change registry value for the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\HTC\Biotouch\ActionScreen\APP_4\Path to \Program Files\WebIS\PocketInformant\PocketInformant.exe
  • New Contact - Change registry value for the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\HTC\Biotouch\ActionScreen\APP_5\Path to \Program Files\WebIS\PocketInformant\PocketInformant.exe

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