By February 14, 2009

Point UI Home 2 (beta) review

Home ScreenOne of our readers David Hush has been testing out the just released beta of Point UI Home 2 and has very kindly shared his experiences of this much improved software for Windows Mobile. David has been using it on his HTC Touch HD and these are his thoughts:-

First of all I downloaded the .cab from the Point UI website ( on my Touch HD using my t-mobile HSDPA connection (it’s only 500k!). Ran the .cab to install, changed my today plugins by deselecting Touch Flo 3D and selected Point UI and WOW! Read on for the full review.

Everyone I’ve shown it too has said the same thing. Wow! Is this realty a windows mobile device running this UI! Initial impression is excellent. On the Touch HDs screen the UI looks crisp and clear. The animation is smooth, fast AND immediate! Click on a button and the screen ‘fly’s out’ and a new screen ‘fly’s in’ rather like the iPhone in this respect.

The home screen is split into three areas when first installed. An applet area covering about half the screen at the top. An applet ribbon in the middle, and some buttons at the bottom.

Home Screen 

There are five applets included which are:

  1. Time, schedule and weather
  2. Messages
  3. World
  4. Tasks
  5. Pictures


Time, schedule and weather shows the current time (obviously), current weather for a location you specify and the first five appointments in you schedule. You can also press the area ‘tomorrow’ and it shows you (yes you’ve guessed it) your appointments for tomorrow. Pressing the other areas takes you to configurable settings (in the case of the weather), or opens the calendar (in the case of the appointments). Sadly, it opens up the default windows mobile calendar which kind of ruins the effect of the shiny animated UI, something that is repeated through other areas.

Weather Settings Home Screen Tomorrow

The messages applet shows you a preview of your first four messages, and can scroll through the accounts you have set up.

World shows you a map of the world, with a location highlighted that you can configure, and the current weather for that location. I don’t really get the point of this myself, but it looks kind of pretty so …

Tasks lists your tasks, although it’s not clear how they’re ordered, and Pictures gives you an applet that plays a slideshow of the pictures in a folder you can configure.

The applet ribbon shows the icon for the current applet displayed with the next and previous applets. You can switch through these by swiping on the applet itself, or pressing on the ribbon and choosing the applet you want. You can also enable extra applets here.

The buttons at the bottom are (left to right) call history, user applications, contacts and messages. Call history, user applications and contacts all open a further PointUI screen (with nice fly in and fly out animation) which continue the excellent look and feel. Messages opens up either the standard windows account chooser, or the last accessed account, again with the standard windows view.

Moving on from the home screen there are other menu screens that replace some of the items on the windows start menu. Programs, settings and a task manager can all be accessed using the left soft key, and are presented using a finger friendly scrollable view. The right soft key takes you directly to your complete list of contacts.

Programs  Settings1

Settings2 Task Manager


It’s worth noting here that there are two versions available, one QVGA/WQVGA and the other for VGA/WVGA. It’s noticeable on my WVGA Touch HD that there’s some spare screen real estate at the bottom of the screen, that presumably isn’t there on a VGA device. But, and here’s the best part about Point UI to my mind, the whole thing is customisable.

PointUI Settings About

Already there is documentation on the Point UI website, along with the example code for the picture viewer applet, to help people develop their own applets. These seem to be scripted in C, which is a fairly widely known language, so it shouldn’t be too long before there are lots of other applets available.

The biggest frustration with PointUI 2 is the same as with all the other UIs available, namely that it doesn’t take too long before you’re back in the standard windows UI, which looks like windows 3.1, and is not exactly finger friendly. Until that’s addressed, then there will always be frustrations.

When finger scrolling, the list moved a little too fast for my liking (as with other apps such as S2P), but that should be editable with a setting somewhere. Also, the signal and battery power icons are relatively small around the central home soft button. The windows mobile task bar at the top of the screen remains as well, and is needed for a few operations, although the Point UI website suggests they are working on eliminating the need to ever use this.

Also looking at the website, the upcoming pro version seems to extend a little deeper into the OS, and looks to have a front screen for your inbox – whether this continues to composing messages remains to be seen, but if it does, then this could be a winner.

Other functionality that feels like it’s missing (but is probably coming – this is still a free beta remember) includes:

  • A lock screen
  • Calendar/schedule replacement
  • Contact manager that is more than skin deep
  • Music player/media organiser
  • Comm manager
  • Phone profiles/settings
  • RSS Feed reader/twitter status
  • Easier way to customise, and more cities supported out of the box

Most of this should be either in the Pro version or relatively achievable by developing new applets. Also, the leaked WM6.5 shots suggest some of the standard WM functionality may be about to become more finger friendly.

All this eye candy comes at a price though. Point UI 2 takes around 13 – 15MB of RAM on my Touch HD – Touch Flo 3D is a mere 3 – 4 MB in comparison. I guess this is so all the graphics etc are quick to access. It didn’t cause me a problem – I was still able to watch h.264 mp4s and receive push mail whilst the app was running without any noticeable lag, but wonder if it will be an issue on lower specced devices (though the QVGA version will probably take less RAM).

All in all I found Point UI to be snappy, responsive, smooth and fast on the Touch HD. I will be switching back to Touch Flo 3D though (which I do quite like) but keeping an eye on this as once the Pro version becomes available, and we get some more applets developed, this could definitely be the UI that makes windows mobile usable again. At least until windows mobile 7 ….

by David Hush

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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