What’s A Smartphone?

Imagine a wireless communications device that offers all of the popular digital PCS cell phone features you’d ever want or need, like a speaker phone, Caller ID, call waiting, voice mail, conference calling (three-way calling), the ability to store a vast phonebook of contacts, and the ability to manage your incoming and outgoing call logs. Cell phones with these functions aren’t anything special.

But this is just the beginning of what Smartphones are capable of. Instead of just storing dozens of phone numbers in their own built-in digital phone book (like most cell phones), Microsoft Windows Mobile compatible Smartphones allows you to synchronize data with Microsoft Outlook, so all of the related data stored on your PC can now easily be “synched” (transferred) to your handheld device using a program called ActiveSync (supplied with your Smartphone).

This includes, contact names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, appointments, to-do lists, and other important data. In addition to working as a fully-featured cell phone, Smartphones are also wireless Internet devices, capable of surfing the web, plus sending and receiving email.

You can also send and receive instant messages using popular services, like MSN Messenger, or utilize Short Message Service (SMS), which is compatible with many popular cell phones. Smartphones are also customizable and expandable. It’s possible to add dozens of different software packages and peripherals to dramatically increase functionality.

So, with a relative ease, you can fully customize your device to handle applications never before possible with a basic cellular phone or wireless data device. The following is a partial list of the functions a Windows Mobile Smartphone is capable of. As you read this list, think about how you’d utilize these functions and communications capabilities in your own life.

Some of the functionality you can expect from your Smartphone includes:

  • A fully featured cellular voice communications tool, with all of the features found in typical cell phones (Caller ID, three-way calling, call waiting, built-in phone directory, customizable ringers, etc.)
  • WirelessWeb surfing—access hundreds of specialized ‘Mobile Optimized’ websites that allow you to check news, weather forecasts and sports scores; track packages; look up phone numbers; get driving directions to any destination; obtain stock quotes and manage your portfolio; and get movie listings, etc. While these websites are designed for the smaller screens of Smartphones, you can also use the scaled-down version of the Microsoft Explorer web browser built into the phone to access almost any website.
  • Sending and receiving email
  • Text messaging (similar to two-way paging)
  • Instant messaging using MSN Messenger
  • The ability to transfer and synchronize data from Microsoft Outlook on your PC directly with your Smartphone. This gives you access to all of your contacts (names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) right on your phone
  • Appointment, scheduling, and to-do list management
  • Built-in calculator
  • Voice recorder (for dictation)
  • Windows Media (MP3 music and video player)
  • The ability to access and view Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and files using your Smartphone
  • The ability to add a wide range of optional software and peripherals

Smartphone technology is relatively new. As a result, various companies that offer these devices define them differently. Since this book is all about Smartphones compatible with the Windows Mobile operating system, here’s how Microsoft’s website describes these wireless communications devices:

“Microsoft Windows Mobile software for Smartphones opens a new chapter in mobile phone technology by combining the best of mobile voice and data communications with the best of personal information management software…. Windows Mobile introduces an entirely new mobile phone experience through the integration of smart software and small, stylish handsets….Included with Windows Mobile software are all the multimedia features today’s consumers expect, including instant messaging, the ability to send and receive photos, and Windows Media Player, which lets users listen to music and view videos. Windows Mobile software is also a great platform for games…Above all, Windows Mobile software is simple to use.”

For years, Microsoft has also offered Pocket PC technology. These are hand-held personal digital assistant devices (PDAs), some of which now utilize the Windows Mobile software and have built-in phone and wireless data functionality. These devices are also extremely powerful and are categorized as Pocket PC Phone Editions.

The biggest difference between Pocket PC Phone Edition devices and Windows Mobile Smartphones is that the Pocket PCs typically have larger screens (with touch screen capabilities), and in some cases, feature some type of small, built-in keyboard. Pocket PC Phone Edition devices are designed primarily for two-handed operation.

Otherwise, much of the functionality is the same. The Pocket PC Phone Editions are also similar to the Palm-OS based Smartphones, like the popular Treo 600 (which also requires two hands to fully utilize). Windows Mobile operating system is powerful, most people won’t need all of the features and functionality these devices offer, but as you become more proficient using the device and it becomes an important productivity tool in your everyday life, you will find new and innovative ways to tap the power of what your Smartphone has to offer.

If you already carry around a cell phone, two-way text pager, MP3 player, appointment book, personal digital assistant (PDA), digital camera, cassette recorder (for dictation), a phone directory, and/or a map to help you navigate from place to place when you’re driving, all of these items can now be replaced with one powerful handheld device.