Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

Taking a Look Around the Pocket PC GUI

If you're new to the Pocket PC platform, you're in for a pleasant surprise when it comes to the Pocket PC GUI. Pocket PC 2002 represents the fourth major revision of the GUI, and Microsoft has done a good job of answering the requests of users over the past few years as the technology has evolved. A few things might take some getting used to, especially if you're coming purely from a desktop environment such as Windows XP, but rest assured that the Pocket PC GUI is organized the way it is for a reason. Screen real estate is extremely limited on mobile devices, which dictates a very tight GUI where everything has a practical reason for its location. Additionally, the uniqueness of entering most information via a stylus results in subtle differences between the Pocket PC GUI and a desktop GUI. All things considered, however, you should be able to adjust to the differences very quickly.

The Pocket PC GUI can be broken down into four major components:

  • Navigation bar

  • Today screen

  • Command bar

  • Text input

Figure 3.9 shows how the first three components of the Pocket PC GUI fit into the overall scheme of things; the fourth is accessible only within the context of an application. The next few sections explore these pieces of the Pocket PC GUI puzzle, along with another little GUI feature you'll find interesting.

Figure 3.9 The major components of the Pocket PC GUI are the Navigation bar, Today screen, and Command bar.

The Navigation Bar

The Navigation bar is located at the top of the screen (refer to Figure 3.9) and is visible in most applications. In addition to displaying the speaker volume and current time on the right side of the screen, the Navigation bar is responsible for housing the Start menu on the left side. The Start menu is a convenient place to launch applications, much like you would find in Windows XP. When you run an application, the word "Start" in the Start menu changes to reflect the name of the application. However, you can still access the Start menu by clicking the Start menu icon (the little colored window) to the left of the application name. Figure 3.10 shows the opened Start menu.

Figure 3.10 The Start menu provides a convenient starting point for launching Pocket PC applications.

The contents of the Start menu consist of applications that you can launch. One neat feature of the Start menu is the line of icons at the top of the menu just above the Today menu item. These icons indicate the last six applications that were run and provide a quick way to launch any of the applications again. This icon list changes to reflect the last six applications you've used, which is one example of how the Pocket PC GUI accommodates usability needs.

The Today Screen

The Today screen is located just below the Navigation bar (refer to Figure 3.9) and serves as the default screen that is displayed when you aren't working in an application. The Today screen displays the current day and date; the owner of the Pocket PC; and any upcoming appointments, messages, and tasks for the day. In conjunction with the Navigation and Command bars, the Today screen serves as a great starting point for performing most Pocket PC operations. You can customize the Today screen considerably by using themes and altering the graphics that appear within it.

To find out how to customize the Today screen, see Chapter 4, "Personalizing Your Pocket PC."

The Command Bar

Below the Today screen you'll find the Command bar (refer to Figure 3.9), which is used to display system information, perform application-specific operations, and enter text information via the Input Panel button. On the left side of the Command bar is a menu that changes with respect to the currently active application. For example, on the Today screen the menu consists solely of a New submenu, which displays a list of menu items that enable you to create a new appointment, contact, e-mail message, Excel workbook, note, task, or Word document. On the right side of the Command bar there can appear various icons that display system information; these icons function as a minimal system tray to give you clues regarding the status of the device. For example, if you establish a network connection, a small icon will appear to indicate that the connection is active.

The Command bar icons are displayed only when the Today screen is active; if an application is executing, the Input Panel button is displayed instead. Figure 3.11 shows the Pocket Word application, which uses a more interesting menu in the Command bar, and the Input Panel button. The Input Panel provides several alternatives to entering text, which you learn about next.

Figure 3.11 Pocket Word is an example of an application that takes advantage of the Command bar for its menu and uses the Input Panel button.

Text Input

The Input Panel button is located on the right side of the Command bar in applications that support text entry. This button enables you to select the method of input used to enter text and provides access to four types of text input:

  • Soft keyboard—The soft keyboard is a scaled-down keyboard that is displayed on the screen. You can type on the soft keyboard by tapping its keys with the stylus, which is similar to how you might peck at keys on a real keyboard if you have no typing background.

  • Letter Recognizer—The Letter Recognizer is a handwriting interface that enables you to write individual characters and have them recognized and converted into text. Although the handwriting recognition is quite effective, it can be time-consuming writing individual characters one at a time.

  • Transcriber—The Transcriber provides a more powerful means of entering hand- written text by allowing you to write anywhere on the screen. This gives you plenty of room to write a few words or an entire sentence. Transcriber uses natural handwriting recognition, which means you can write on your Pocket PC screen as if you were writing on a piece of paper and Transcriber will convert it into text. To carry out this ambitious task, Transcriber relies on fuzzy logic and neural network algorithms, which is a techie way of saying that Transcriber uses some very sophisticated artificial intelligence to interpret handwriting.

  • Block Recognizer—If you've migrated to the Pocket PC from a Palm device, you might be interested in the Block Recognizer input method, which is new to Pocket PC 2002 and offers a text-entry solution to people who have grown accustomed to using the Graffiti input system on Palm devices. The idea behind the Block Recognizer is to provide a smooth path for Palm users to migrate to the Pocket PC platform without having to relearn their approaches to text entry.

You will likely select a single input method and stick with it as you get comfortable entering information into your Pocket PC. Keep in mind, though, that you also can purchase a portable keyboard for your device in the event that you want to do some heavy-duty text entry.

For more information about portable keyboards, see Appendix A, "A Pocket PC Hardware Accessory Tour."

To learn more about the four text input methods, see Chapter 5, "Making the Most of Input Methods."

Bubble Notifications

Although it might not qualify as a major component of the Pocket PC GUI, the bubble notification is a feature new to Pocket PC 2002 that nonetheless proves to be quite useful. Whenever a relatively small piece of information needs to be presented to you, a small pop-up window known as a bubble notification appears. It is similar to a comic strip bubble. Bubble notifications are used throughout the Pocket PC GUI in various scenarios. One of the quickest ways to get acquainted with bubble notifications is by tapping the time on the Navigation bar, which results in a bubble notification appearing that resembles the one shown in Figure 3.12.

Figure 3.12 Bubble notifications are used to present relatively small pieces of information to the user without being too disruptive.

Unlike dialog boxes in the desktop Windows GUI, bubble notifications are designed so that they don't disrupt what you're doing to any significant extent. For example, many bubble notifications automatically disappear after a few seconds if they don't require any information from you; you can also tap outside a bubble notification to make it go away. The idea is to quickly notify you of something, such as an appointment, and then get out of the way. Bubble notifications are a very efficient and highly intuitive improvement to the Pocket PC GUI that you'll no doubt come to appreciate.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020