Warning: SPB Mobile Shell 3.0 Released. It's Addictive.

Before you continue: check out SPB Mobile Shell 5 for Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian

Well well well! The best application for Windows Mobile is back, stronger, faster, and better than ever!
SPB Mobile Shell 3 is here, and I was lucky enough to get an early version and play with it for a while.
I absolutely loved SPB Mobile Shell 2 and I feel the same with the new version! It's fast, it's stable, it has kept most of the good things from the previous version and added a lot of amazing new features!
Here's my thoughts about SPB Mobile Shell 3:
Before I begin, you probably ask yourself how is it that the Mobile Spoon, who usually complains and whines about everything, really likes the SPB Mobile Shell?
Well, it's just good. It is darn good.
SPB Mobile Shell is much more than a Launcher application. It's a complete shell that hides most of the Windows Mobile UI. Like the TouchFlo 3D it gives you an agenda screen, weather, contacts, better phone application, tasks manager, etc.
But, I prefer it over the others because of few reasons:
1. Great visual look (colorful, animated, and consistent)
2. Good ergonomics design (all the buttons are located in the bottom)
3. Finger friendly (not almost, not like - everything is finger friendly)
4. Speed (It's a devil! Fast, responsive, no lags, ever)
(especially comparing to the TouchFlo3D...) RoadRunner

New features in SPB Mobile Shell 3:
Here's the formal list of new features in this version:
  • Widgets (Lifestyle Home Screen)
  • Facebook integration
  • 3D carousel
  • Widget-based photo contacts
  • Finger friendly agenda view
  • Call log
  • Finger friendly profile editor
  • Ringtone management
  • Management of contact photos (crop, rotate etc.)
  • Work as a home screen
  • Media Player widget
  • Wireless Manager
  • New launcher
  • 3x3 phone menu is back
  • Finger friendly settings
  • Kinetic scrolling everywhere
  • Email indicators for individual email accounts
  • Improved task manager
  • Back/Restore settings

So a new version is released, and there's a lot of changes from the previous version, here's the things I particularly liked in SPB Mobile Shell 3:
Home Screen (x2):
Screen77 Let's begin with the "Home" screen.
SPB now has 2 types of Home screens; the Professional layout (image on the right) and Lifestyle layout (widgets based).
The professional screen is pretty much the same as it was in version 2 where each area is actually a launcher to a specific application (weather, mails, messages, etc.).
There is, however, one one significant improvement: clicking on the appointments does not open the default calendar application, and instead, it opens a special screen just for the calendar entries; the calendar view.
Screen99 The Calendar view is an important addition, because unlike the annoying default WinMo calendar, it's finger friendly (of course), it has kinetic scrolling and you can easily jump from one day to another by clicking on a specific day in the bottom bar (or just use finger gestures to scroll).
The performance and responsiveness are perfect.

Context Sensitive views and menus:
The bottom area of the shell have been slightly changed. Instead of 4 fixed tabs, there are now only 2 which are context sensitive (in the middle), one back button (on the left), and a context sensitive menu (on the right).
bottom copy
bottom copy2
From the Home screen you can easily access the Launcher window or the contacts window, but when you access one of those windows, the bottom area will include different shortcuts.
It does make things a bit more complex than the previous version but on the other hand, it is required because there are a lot of new features.
SPB Widgets (Lifestyle Layout):
Screen80 Screen79
The Lifestyle layout is basically a widgets surface.
Unlike Samsung's TouchWiz, the interface can include multiple pages, which is required, given that you will want to include more than just a few widgets, and maybe split them to different sections.
Screen99I'm not a huge fan of widgets, but in this case, since you can add application shortcuts, calendar entries, images, contacts, and all in different pages - it's nice. You can create one page with your favorite widgets, a second page with your PIM apps, and so on.
The configuration capabilities are pretty powerful, and the layout is modified using the same concept: right button triggers a context menu (see image) and from there it's pretty self explanatory.

Phone & Contacts:
Screen99 SPB Mobile Shell wraps your WinMo contacts with a finger friendly user interface which allows easy calls invocations, contacts browsing, modifying ringtones or images.
The contacts and phone shell were enhanced to include more features and additional layout alternatives.
When switching to the contacts window you get easy access to your recent calls, favorite contacts, and all contacts. Everything is completely finger friendly.
You know what? Few pictures worth a thousand words:
favs_green contacts_circle

Applications Launcher:
Of course, one of the most important things in SPB Mobile Shell 3 is still, the applications launcher.
The Launcher window includes 2 tabs: recent applications and the pre-defined folders. Previous versions had everything in one tab, and now it's split into 2, which is much better.
Clicking on each folder drills down into the context of the folder - all with a comfortable custom UI.
Most of the functionality is pretty much the same as in version 2, and you can also add your own custom folders with your favorite applications.
Screen94 Screen85

There are more useful features in SPB Mobile Shell 3; a finger friendly Tasks Manager, Weather screen, clocks, alarms, profiles manager and more. I will not review all of those as I do need to get some sleep sometime...
weather Screen67
Screen63 time

Things I did not like in SPB Mobile Shell 3:
You know the deal by now.
Every MobileSpoon review must end with something negative to talk about. This is part of my duty, in order to stay reliable (and also because I'm a pedant whiner...).
It was hard, but I did manage to find 2 things I didn't like in SPB Mobile Shell 3.0:
1. The Carousel View:
Layouts-tmp-screen Sure, it's a cool feature, nice animation and finger gestures, but for a practical person like me, it's more of a waste of an important window. whenever you click on the "back" button from the home screen, you get into this strange looking carousel view (can be changed to a tile view) with a quick access to all the different SPB screens.
The reason I don't like it is that it's not really required, as it's very simple to access those screens the usual way, and the second reason is that it's not very comfortable to use it. I think a tasks manager would have been a better option.
2. Kinetic scrolling:
Screen81 I am probably the only one on this planet that will say it, but in version 2, there used to be small arrows to navigate through long lists. It was my favorite feature because it was accurate and fast.
In version 3, SPB replaced the paging with a kinetic scrolling which is working OK but it's less accurate, sometimes you want to scroll the list but instead you activate one of the items, and for me it's a big dissapointment that the arrows no longer exist.
If SPB developers are reading this review - please bring me back my paging arrows. P-l-e-a-s-e-e-e-e.

SPB Mobile Shell 2 used to be my favorite Windows Mobile application and SPB Mobile Shell 3 is even better.
It has many improvements and new features: the widgets layout, the calendar view, the context sensitive menus, and more.
The UI is very comfortable and rich, and all of those goodies work extremely fast. 
I love it.

More resources:
A video preview of SPB Mobile Shell 3.0
SPB Mobile Shell 3.0 Press Release
SPB Mobile Shell 3.0 home page (trial link included)
More SPB news and applications
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chrizburnz said…
Is there anyway to make the agenda show tasks as well? Until this is an option, I doubt I will use it that much.
Gil Bouhnick said…
I actually missed that in my report.
I love using Tasks, and this is indeed missing at the moment.

most of the shell apps miss that for some reason, but the good thing here is that you can use SPB with the standard today, so you can put the tasks as a today plugin as a workaround.
chrizburnz said…
What about with SPB diary? Is there no way to incorporate that in with Mobile Shell? That is so far the best way to manage ones tasks that I have seen so far, and it includes calendar events too.

Also, I have the Xperia X1 and I noticed while it's running that if you try to go to the pannels, the whole phone freezes.

In my opinion SPB Mobile Shell 3.0 is a really nice program and maybe even should be the basis of a phone one day, but using it along with Windows Mobile it's very glitch and very slow. It's a process that is always running, and with 512mb of ram in my phone I really would like to get the full functionality of my phone and not this one program. I think I'm going to go back to Mobile Shell 2.0 until hey have improved 3.0.

Thanks for your quick comment about the tasks!
Leonick said…
Well I will give I a try, specially seeing how they actually replace the today screen now...

But it will have to be pretty damn good to take PointUI Home 2s place on my phone, specially seeing as Home 2 is free...
Anonymous said…
What a great review!

Will give it a shot on my Diamond, I just hope it will not collide with TF3D.
Gil Bouhnick said…
Leonick - thanks for the comments, I invite you to send me your thoughts about the comparisson between PointUI and SPB (once you try it for a while).

I will be more than happy to publish them here for you if you want.
Gil Bouhnick said…
Check out this brilliant review at the WMExperts:

Anonymous said…
Anyone having this problem and a possible fix:
When I go to the bottom right corner and select Change Background, then select a pic, the screen goes to black albeit the bars are still working. The soft keys are calendar/L and Spb Home/R. Selecting Spb Home takes be back to the Lifestyle screen where I quickly notice the background has not changed.
apomdu said…
I agree shell 3.0 is addictive but fun too. Some frustrations such as the mentioned Kinetic and yes, please bring back arrows. Would like slightly smaller icons on the launcher page too. Would also like a large Digital clock on lifestyle view. Other than that this is a damn good piece of software, I will be recommending to all my fellow PDA people.
J. Sanchez said…
Hey everyone!
I've been using the free-trial Mobile Shell 3.0 app for a few days and love it. My only concern is that the battery drains alot quicker than it did when I was just running TF3D. Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just me?
Gil Bouhnick said…
I don't think it's just you.
I found more references from people saying the same thing.

I haven't noticed that on the Omnia.
I wonder if it's some kind of a problem which can be solved by SPB or just the nature of the application.
J.Sanchez said…
So it isn't just me. I'm using it on my Fuze. Is there anything you can change in "Settings" so that it doesn't drain as quickly? I was going to purchase it after the trail, but now I'm not too sure anymore. $30 for only half a day of phone use?
Anonymous said…
Great review, I'm leaning toward WinMO as I look to replace my Flinstones-era phone. It's great to hear that I may have an even better alternative to TouchFlo than SPB2.

One typo...
Must spell-check.

Thanks for the great review!
Anonymous said…
great detailed review.
Simos said…
It's a pity it doesn't have tasks integration. I had to delete all my tasks and put them as RDVs to see them.
It's more fun than professional tool because the calendar tool is poor too.
I think they should make a professional version with better tasks and appointments integration and much more options (just 2 appointments? why?)
Paulie said…
Hey guys, is it just me or does it seem annoying and confusing as to how to set ringtones to your favourite contacts??
Kate said…
I find many of the more detailed features to be a little bit confusing to set up, but I am new to Spb. Actually I am new to smartphones entirely, so I found WinMo itself to be a bit confusing too.
Spb is very pretty, works well, etc. Definitely more attractive & feature filled than the default shell on the Omnia. It is a bit of a learning curve for a newbie like me. But everything on the phone is a learning curve for me. I think it all boils down to what you're used to, and how many hours you devote to thoroughly learning a new piece of hardware/software.
I think I'm getting the hang of it though, bought my first smartphone 2 days ago and I've already got half a dozen new apps, Spb shell, and several registry edit tweaks.
I think the only time its really valid to say that something is confusing, is when there is an immediately obvious intuitive way to do something, and the manufacturer manages to somehow do exactly the opposite. I don't think that Spb suffers from that, it just has a learning curve to figure out how all the little details work.
blue said…
hi, i've tried the trial version and like it alot...
you have any idea how i can get the registered version? you can email me. thanks alot!
Daily Phones said…
great blog! I am glad that I visited him
Guest said…
Where can i get a freeware of the SPB mobile shell? I can't find it.
Guest said…
Will this work on my T-mobile TouchPro 2?
MobileSpoon said…
Of course it will.
You don't like your TouchPro 3D second version?
blue said…
<span>hi, i've tried the trial version and like it alot... 
you have any idea how i can get the registered version? can you teach me? my email add is doremi_luv@yahoo.com.sg</span>
thanks alot!!!
Guest said…
<span style="color: #808080;">War IHNEN am Herzen liegt ...</span>
Harris Kim said…
I agree with your review the page review would be great to have the page arrows;especially if your smartphone has hardware left/right button keys.Spb developers please bring it back  ;)
Guest said…
can you tell me does this spb 3.0 work on blackberry devices like the storm
talyani said…
thnx for this
harry said…
how to download this.. somebody pls help me
shankar said…
i like it
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