In today's world, connectivity while traveling has become a necessity. Windows Mobile is a great platform; small enough to easily carry with excellent connectivity options. Although we have a good email experience with Exchange's ActiveSync Direct Push technology, the web browsing experience is not ideal. The Real Simple Syndication (RSS) protocol can provide the means to easily view published information without the formatting constraints imposed by web sites designed for desktop browsers. Ilium Software was one of the first companies to produce a full featured RSS application called NewsBreak. When NewsBreak was first released I jumped on it. It was a way for me to stay connected to my favorite web sites while I traveled with my Pocket PC. Ilium Software has recently released version 2.0 and I have finally had the time to try it.
The one major improvement I saw immediately was the attention given to one handed operation. When I use my Pocket PC to read I like be able to hold and control the application with one hand. Although you could use NewsBreak 1.x with one hand, the use of the Windows Mobile 5.0 soft keys in 2.0 have made one handed operation much more intuitive.
The other major improvements are the addition of audio and video podcast subscriptions and downloads. This feature provides the ability to download (automatically and manually) and view TV shows like the NBC Nightly News. I could use my SlingPlayer Mobile to do this but only in real time, the download feature allows you to listen or view when you want without the need to be connected (Think Tivo!). I know I am going to find this to be a very nice feature while traveling.
It took about 10 minutes to download the NBC Nightly News (113MB) over a WIFI connection to my SD card.
The two issues I found with RSS in general on Windows Mobiles are: Some sites only publish summaries and require you to go to their web sites to view the full article. The problem is that many web sites are not designed for mobile viewing. The second issue is that the Windows Mobile Media Player does not recognize MPEG4 video files. Both of these issues can be remedied by using a browser like DeepFish and a third party media player like TCPMP.
My wishes for the next version are:
- The ability to use a service like skweezer configurable by RSS feed when you need to link to the main web site that is mobile enable.
- The ability to specify which browser to use when accessing links. I know this is probably possible via a registry hack in file types, but an option would be nice.
- The ability to specify which media player to use for audio and video files.
Even without the inclusion of my wish list, this is definitely a worthy upgrade or a great purchase if you are looking for a full featured RSS reader for your Windows Mobile device. It definitely makes it to My Windows Mobile Application list.