As mentioned, the TouchFLO 3D interface sets the Touch Diamond apart from other Windows Mobile phones we’ve seen in the U.S. to date. In short, TouchFLO 3D puts a really cool user interface on top of the basic Windows Mobile functionality. There’s much more to it than just that, however.
TouchFLO 3D replaces the standard Today screen with a different Home screen that has several tabs at the bottom: Home, People, Messages, Mail, Sprint Music, Photos and Videos, Sprint TV, Internet, Weather, Settings, and Programs. You can tap to select any of the shown tabs, but since they do not all fit on the main screen, you can also drag your finger across the tabbed area to scroll through the icons. As you glide through the icons, a transparent icon and text appears to tell you which icon you are on. Whenever you like, the Home button will return you to the main screen or you can scroll to it using your finger.
On the Home screen, you’ll see a large clock, call history information, and upcoming appointment information. By simply swiping your finger up or down across the screen, you can minimize the large clock and reveal additional appointments, etc that don’t otherwise fit on the Home screen.
The People tab can hold 15 of your favorite contacts along with photos of each of these people. HTC provides generic silhouette photos, or you can use your own pictures from an individual’s contact listing or the camera reel. By tapping All People, you’ll bring up the standard Windows Mobile Contacts listing that is sorted alphabetically with HTC’s Random Access plug-in. This plug-in provides A to Z shortcuts on the right so you can scroll to a particular contact quickly.
On the Messages tab, you’ll see SMS and MMS messages with support for threaded text messaging. You can access different conversations by flicking your finger up or down across the screen. The Mail icon provides access to email accounts with snazzy graphics that show your email messages as letters coming out of envelopes. Here, you can scroll through messages by flicking your finger up or down across the letter.
Internet launches the Opera Mobile 9.5 browser and also provides easy access to the phone’s YouTube application. The YouTube application automatically displays a list of videos in Portrait orientation and then switches to Landscape mode when playing an actual video. While the phone does have a “Motion G-sensor” (accelerometer), its functionality is only accessible through some applications, and the YouTube app is not one of them. In other words, you can’t easily change the display of a YouTube video from Landscape to Portrait mode simply by rotating the display. There are also shortcuts to Facebook and MySpace from the Internet tab. Both of these links bring up the respective Web pages within the Opera browser.
Pictures and Videos lets you flip through albums from the main screen. You can also launch the camera and the camcorder from this tab. Tapping any image or movie lets you see that item in full screen mode. The accelerometer works within this application, so all you have to do is rotate the device to change display orientation. A slideshow mode is available that will automatically flip through photos in full screen mode.
The Weather tab provides access to current forecast information, complete with animated graphics. For example, if it’s rainy, you’ll see a little windshield wiper that cleans off rain drops. You can track the weather for up to 10 cities worldwide. You can also tap the lower left corner of the screen to reveal a 5-day forecast for the area.
In essence, the Settings tab is a shortened version of the standard Windows mobile settings Screen. This tab is divided into Sync Data, Sound, Wallpaper, Communications, Data, and About areas. Sync Data initiates synchronization. Sound provides access to sound profiles, ringer and system volume controls, ringtones, and ring types. Wallpaper is self-explanatory and controls your Home screen’s wallpaper. Communications lets you turn the phone, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Microsoft Direct Push, and Data Connections on and off. Data lets you change when to download weather settings, and About provides general phone information. An All Settings link in the bottom corner provides access to the full Windows Mobile Settings menu.
Finally, the Programs listing to up to 18 programs, with nine shortcuts displayed on a single screen. By default, the phone has shortcuts to Live Search, Sprint Navigation, Pocket Express, File Explorer, the OZ Instant Messaging client, and the RSS Hub application. You can remove any of these shortcuts, and of course, you can add your own to any of the blank spots. An All Programs link at the bottom of the screen provides a scrollable list of all available programs.
We really liked the TouchFLO 3D interface as a whole. It is smooth and provides easy access to most of the phone’s functions we use on a regular basis. In addition, this user interface is clean and overall visually appealing. In fact, it is sometimes easy to forget you’re using Windows Mobile when you’re immersed in TouchFLO 3D.