One, perhaps two, of my dreams for an improved Windows Mobile phone experience came true this week. Finally there are good options for a really better photo display for incoming and outgoing caller screens and one of the replacement contact managers, which also supports thumbnails in it’s display, is starting to become really useful!
The caller id enhancer is EnCallio from NikaFX. I had the pleasure of giving some input to the developer during it’s creation and couldn’t be happier with the results.
The Contact Manager replacement is QDz, and although it is still a work in progress, it’s compatible with EnCallio and fun and fast to use!
At it’s core, EnCallio (Enhanced Caller Incoming/Outgoing) simply gives you the ability to have better screens with larger photos for your incoming and outgoing calls.
Nikolas Afxentiou, the programmer behind NikaFX, has designed a very elegant solution to one of the biggest complaints still existing in the Windows Mobile Standard marketplace. Older solutions were off the market, and PhotoContact Pro, the only current solution, is cumbersome and inflexible. EnCallio works so much better and it works WITH Windows Mobile, not just on top of it.
Basically Nikolas realized you could store better, larger, clearer pictures in the contacts database if you used your own routines to store the pictures. Windows Mobile’s routines for this make the images too small for anything but thumbnails and they compress the JPEG data far too much.
The next great step was making the templates for the caller screens in XML – the same design format used for the Home screens on Windows Mobile Standard. This means you can redefine your caller screens to have whatever design you want – you’re not just limited to the templates provided with the package. The XML files are easily edited by hand, but Nik has promised an easy-to-use Screen Designer that will make it possible for anyone to customise these! I created a few designs myself (one to match the T-Mobile Shadow and a nice, nearly full-screen, design that really shows off the power of EnCallio.
EnCallio also has a basic Contact Manger included to allow you to add larger/better pictures to your contacts as well as other features and options.
The second part of my dream was a better Contact Manager. The one included in EnCallio isn’t meant as a replacement for your regular Contact Manager. However, because Nik chose a Windows Mobile-friendly approach to his design, there is at least one full Contact Manager replacement that works perfectly with EnCallio.
QDz, from Nicque Freeware, is a Contact Manager that is a strong, and growing stronger, contender for the perfect Contact Manager.
It features thumbnail icons on your contact list and can, like the built-in contact manager, use the camera on your phone to capture a new image or select from images already on your phone to attach to your contacts. You can also edit the rest of your contact data. It also is using a similar method to bypass the flawed contact picture resizing/storage used by default in Windows Mobile and stores higher resolution/quality images that work just fine with EnCallio.
It has other features I’ve come to be fond of as well. Horizontal tabs that let you quickly and visually scroll through the alphabet to find your contact, a Favorites list of your most used contacts, and more.
It doesn’t cost a thing and it’s back in active development now.