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Comparing the user interfaces of Windows Mobile and Android
Summary
This article compares the user interfaces of Windows Mobile and Android operating systems. For easier comparison, the images are placed side by side.
 
Table of Contents

The Emulators

The Hardware Appearance

Figure 1. Windows Mobile and Android devices without keyboards

Figure 2. Similar sized Windows Mobile and Android PDAs without keyboards

The Start/All Menu

Figure 3. The Start/All menu on Windows Mobile and Android

The Programs

Figure 4. Applications on Windows Mobile and Android

The Landscape Mode

Figure 5. Windows Mobile and Android devices in landscape mode

The Games

Figure 6. Games on Windows Mobile and Android

The Web Browser

Figure 7. Web Browsers in Windows Mobile and Android

The Contacts

Figure 8. The Contacts application in Windows Mobile and Android

The Calendar and Maps

Figure 9. Calendar and Maps on Windows Mobile and Android

 

The Emulators

In both the cases (Windows Mobile and Android), the emulators have been used. For Windows Mobile, the Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC R2 Emulator is used. And for Android, the emulators from the SDK m5-rc14 are used for this comparison.

The Hardware Appearance

The pictures below show how the devices look side by side. The Figure 1 shows two devices without keyboards. They roughly have the same button structure at the bottom – four buttons and an up-down-side-ways move key cluster.

Needless to say, several permutations of the button structure/appearance will be there on the actual physical devices. And, some of these devices will come physical keyboard and others won’t.

Figure 1. Windows Mobile and Android devices without keyboards

Figure 1. Windows Mobile and Android devices without keyboards

Following figure compares similar sized devices. This comparison is between Android’s QVGA-P mode and the regular Windows Mobile emulator. In this case, both the devices do not have keyboards.

Figure 2. Similar sized Windows Mobile and Android PDAs without keyboards

Figure 2. Similar sized Windows Mobile and Android PDAs without keyboards

The Start/All Menu

The Start menu on Windows Mobile platform is the familiar menu that you would see in the Windows XP or Windows Vista operating systems. By default, it’s a series of small icons and text.

On Android (starting from the release m5-rc14), the All menu is a bit more dramatic. You can get to this expansion by clicking on ‘All’ button. By default you will see big buttons and the menu on the right growing as these programs are used. This is in contrast to a small Start icon in Windows mobile that hides whole bunch of programs.

Figure 3. The Start/All menu on Windows Mobile and Android

Figure 3. The Start/All menu on Windows Mobile and Android

The Programs

This is a slightly more apples-to-apples comparison between the display of Windows Mobile applications and Android applications. In this case, choosing the Programs from the Start menu on Windows Mobile has a display similar to the application listing on Android.

Figure 4. Applications on Windows Mobile and Android

Figure 4. Applications on Windows Mobile and Android

The Landscape Mode

In this comparison, the landscape modes for these devices are shown. Here the devices are ‘wider’, as opposed to being ‘taller’. For textual display, you would feel like there some extra space either on the right or on the left. This might be the preferred mode for some games. This provides more of a cinematic / TV-like display.

Figure 5. Windows Mobile and Android devices in landscape mode

Figure 5. Windows Mobile and Android devices in landscape mode

The Games

By default, Windows Mobile comes with games like Solitaire and Bubble Breaker. Similarly, Android comes with games like Snake on Phone and Lunar Lander.

Needless to say, the games on Android are trivial as of the release m5-rc14 release. These are basically small code samples. Undoubtedly, more will be available in the future. On the other hand, Windows Mobile has sophisticated games, partly because of its longevity.

Figure 6. Games on Windows Mobile and Android

Figure 6. Games on Windows Mobile and Android

The Web Browser

Windows Mobile comes with the Internet Explorer Mobile built-in. The Android comes with a browser built on top of the open source WebKit engine (which is the same as Apple’s Safari). Needless to say, both are powerful mobile browsers.

Figure 7. Web Browsers in Windows Mobile and Android

Figure 7. Web Browsers in Windows Mobile and Android

The Contacts

These emulators don’t have the ability to make phone calls; obviously, the real-world Windows Mobile phones or Android phones will have the ability to make phone calls. Here the user interfaces for the contact application are compared.

You can see that the UI for Contacts in Windows Mobile 5.0 is rather standard / business-like. And the Contacts screen in Android (version m5-rc14) is more graphical.

Figure 8. The Contacts application in Windows Mobile and Android

Figure 8. The Contacts application in Windows Mobile and Android

The Calendar and Maps

The Calendar on Windows Mobile devices resembles the one on Outlook. You can go through the screens for Agenda, Day, Week, Month, and Year displays. On Android, some of the standard phone/PDA applications are not there yet (as of the release m5-rc14); but all these standard applications will be available by the time Android phones are available.

On an Android phone/device, you would expect the Google Maps as a standard. Naturally, you can feel the power and sophistication of Google Maps.

So, here the comparison is between what these devices would be / are famous for (at this point / short-term) – mail/calendaring/business-stuff for Windows Mobile and Google Maps/etc for Android. Needless to say, both sets of features are/will be available on both the phones/devices, but that’s the image these phones might carry going forward (and each will fight to be everything for everybody, of course).

Figure 9. Calendar and Maps on Windows Mobile and Android

Figure 9. Calendar and Maps on Windows Mobile and Android
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