We took a look at the early Windows Mobile 6.5 build for the old HTC Blue Angel handset that was leaked yesterday. There's not a whole lot to see yet, but here's what matters:
- There is a new interface! Sort of! The typical 6.1 home screen is still present at times, but there appears to be an alternate, Zune-like menu too. It's glitchy for the time being, but it looks like a step in the right direction, and like it runs significantly more smoothly than many of the third-party interface layers out there (Yeah, I'm talking about you, TouchFlo 3d). There are also a few new element skins—namely a new dialer, finally. The keyboard doesn't get shown off, but I'd assume that'll be changed too.
- Zune integration is here, in a way. The aforementioned new menu doesn't just look and feel like the clean Zune UI we're all so used to, it contains icons for media playback at the bottom, including music and photos. Both had image previews in their entries, and there were specific music functions built into the first layer of menus. In other words, the default user interface for Windows Mobile will be usable as a media player.
- Inertial scrolling is everywhere now. This might seem minor, but the psychological impact of smooth interface movements is huge. Grids of icons can now be thrown around, as can the contact list and web browser (though we saw this in the Mobile IE6 emulator).
There are a few other new, minor features seen in the video, but it's unclear which of them belong to Microsoft, which to HTC and which to random third parties (this is XDA, after all). And as I said before, this is probably a very early build and not totally representative of the final product. However, if these few improvements are anything to go by, the user experience will be markedly improved for users of WinMo 6.5, especially on touchscreen handsets.