Today at Mobile World Congress 2009, Steve Ballmer along with mobile partners HTC, LG and Orange, unveiled the next generation of Windows phones which are running the new version of Windows Mobile software: Windows Mobile 6.5. In addition to the phones themselves, two new services were also officially announced: My Phone, which syncs text messages, photos, videos, and contacts to the web and Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a new app store that provides downloadable mobile applications accessible from both the web and phone.
The New Look of 6.5
The Windows Mobile 6.5 software features a brand-new home screen with improved touchscreen interface. The interface resembles a “honeycomb” with hexagonal tiles for each program – a UI that promises to be more “finger friendly.” The 6.5 software allows for “fat finger touching” on a resistive touch screen so you can make more precise touches without need of a stylus.
The new interface also lets you go directly to your voicemail, text messages, and email, right from the Lock Screen:
The phones also come with the latest version of IE Mobile which offers the ability to do more types of online transactions, thanks to its built-in Flash video player, Flash Lite, among other things. IE Mobile additionally offers pan and zoom capabilities that are accessed via touch as well as auto-complete suggestions for faster web browsing.
As for the services shipping with Windows Mobile, the free My Phone service lets you manage and backup your personal info from your device to a password-protected web service. This makes upgrading from phone to phone easier since data can easily be restored from web to phone. The service also provides a portal where mobile content – like personal photos – can be shared with others. My Phone is currently an invitation-only beta. (Sign up here).
Marketplace for Mobile
Perhaps the most exciting announcement, however, is the new Marketplace for Mobile which will ship inside all new Windows Mobile 6.5 phones. From here, you can search for and install applications on your device – over 20,000 are available. The Marketplace will be available from the PC, too, and all that’s required is a Windows Live ID.
Three of the first phones to run Windows Mobile 6.5 are the LG-GM7300, HTC’s Touch Diamond 2, and HTC’s Touch Pro 2. The Touch Diamond 2 features TouchFLO 3D, a sleek and compact design, and a large 3.2-inch high-resolution wide-screen display. The HTC Touch Pro 2 introduces HTC’s new Straight Talk technology, an integrated email, voice and speakerphone experience. The new phones will become available at the beginning of the second half of 2009.