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Sunday, March 23, 2008

New SMS-Chat Threads Messages

If iPhone has proved anything, it's that there are a lot of what Robin Williams would call nose miners out there who enjoy using their index fingers for navigation among other things. It's what I'd call a picky bunch. If you are a Windows Mobile person who feels deprived, you will be glad to know that there is a whole suite of software introduced by Vito Technology that employs finger push navigation similar to the iPhone.

The latest release is SMS-Chat. If you are a Palm Treo packer, you already appreciate the virtues of threaded SMS messages and the convenience of having your messages all grouped together. That's what SMS-Chat will do for you. It opens up a whole new world for SMS organization and manipulation. But threading is not the only feature of SMS-Chat.

From within this application, you can easily delete, forward, resend messages, and add new contacts. You can also send the same message to multiple recipients, which I appreciate greatly.

When you invoke the program, all of your chats are listed in the main menu under the name of a recipient. You can scroll up or down the list using your finger to make the list glide like an air hockey puck. Select any entry and the whole thread of in and out messages involving that person appears. Tap on any message, a menu appears, and you can choose to delete, forward, resend, or cancel the message.

From the main, opening screen, tap the icon in the lower left of the screen to bring up a menu with the following options: About, Help, Language, Minimize, Exit, and Cancel.

To send a new message to a person in the list, select a name and just start entering text into the blue input panel at the bottom of the screen. When you're done, tap the envelop in the lower right corner, the message is launched, and a copy appears in the thread.

To initiate a new message to a new person, just tap on the icon with the pencil and envelop in the lower left corner and choose from the contact list. Your contact list will pop up in a new finger scrollable view, which makes it fun, but if your list is very long, you will soon grow weary scrolling and may wish to start typing in the person's name and let the predictive engine find it for you.

I was prepared to complain about the single line, blue input panel, but I soon discovered that it expands as you type to accommodate your text.

However, I am amazed that such a savvy developer as Vito would neglect to put in a character counter when the count is critical and there is a strict 160 character limit per message. I certainly hope a counter will be included in the next release.

I think it would be wonderful too if there were various ways that you could organize messages into groups by various criteria such as subject, date, recipients, color coding and so forth. Perhaps down the road Vito will make this possible too.

Depress the three bar red icon in the upper right corner of the screen to bring up a menu for adding recipients (as many as you wish), viewing contact information, deleting the chat, or cancelling the operation.

Push the arrow in the upper left, and you go back to the scrollable list of messages. And that, my friends, takes us back to where we started and completes the tour. Please be sure not to leave any of your valuables behind as you exit the vehicle.

SMS-Chat couldn't be simpler or more elegant, and it certainly adds important, missing functionality that has been seriously lacking in the Windows Mobile texting platform.

If you want to add this slick, new application to your pocket pal, just go to Vito's new site and download it. Try it out for 14 days free, kick the tires, and if you want to make it a permanent fixture, it will cost you $14.95. Be aware that Vito is very rigid about allowing only one license per application per installation. I tried to install it on a couple of my devices to test it, and I was out of luck. But that's only fair.

Note that this version only works on Windows Mobile 5/6 Classic and Professional models. If you have a Smartphone or Standard model, you are out of luck, which is just another reason not to have a non-touch screen device as far as I'm concerned.

Hey, while your visiting Vito's new iwindowsmobile site, check out its other offerings designed to make nose miners happy that include AudioNotes, FunContact, GoodWin, ZoomBoard, and AstroNavigator II, all of which I believe I've already reviewed.

Timothy Hillebrand, Ph.D. is a retired archaeologist and windows mobile expert who writes for Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine and several other publications. Visit his blog at

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