iPaq: Today Screen

One of the things I really like about Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, or whatever we’re going to call it, is the Today screen. When you’ve tapped all the little ‘OK’ or ‘X’ buttons in the top right, it’s the screen you end up with. It’s the default home screen, much like Palm’s ‘Launcher’. Because all the apps are on the start menu, though, it’s not a launcher. It acts much like the Outlook Today screen on the desktop Outlook, but it’s less of a disappointment.

The basic built in functions include today’s date, the owner information, coming calendar items, how many tasks you have active, and the number of unread emails. Tapping on each of these things takes you to the appropriate program – tap the unread mails item to go to Messaging, or tap an appointment to go to the calendar, for example.

I spent a while looking for alternative plug-ins to the calendar and tasks defaults, so I could jump from the plug-in to Pocket Informant rather than the basic Calendar and Tasks programs. The iPaq came with Pocket Informant in ROM, and it’s much more powerful than the standard programs. After trying a couple, and not really liking them as much as the nice simple standard ones, I discovered that I didn’t need an alternative at all – Pocket Informant had an option to take over links to the built in apps, and that applied to the Today screen bits too. One ticked box, and it all worked as I wanted it. Nice. Pocket Informant doesn’t do as much for Notes as it does for the other default apps, so it very sensibly leaves those links alone.

Too many Today screen plug-ins, or just the wrong plug-ins, are a good way to crash your Pocket PC.

My Today Screen, Today

That’s it as it stands at the moment. It’ll keep changing – I’m a fiddler. So, what’s different to the defaults? From the top…

  • The clock – it’s displaying the date as well as the time – see CTitanic’s excellent page of hacks. It involves fiddling with the registry, so if you’re not keen on playing to much depth, you may prefer buying his splendid Tweaks2k2 to do this sort of thing for you.
  • The meters – they’re almost the default – the iPaq comes with a version of RhinoCode‘s TodayPanel, but I’ve upgraded to the Pro version, since they’re doing a fairly irresistible offer for us 4700 owners. $9.95 for three useful apps. The screen capture program is what I used to get the screenshot above, so this article wouldn’t exist without this offer 😉
  • RhinoCode’s launcher – part of the same offer – just puts icons on the today screen. Click icon, launch program. Simple, good.
  • Theme – it’s from McDeb. There’s matching desktop wallpaper for the PC, too, so they look pretty sitting together 😉