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The Q and Me

Posted on: July 27th, 2006 by Craig Rairdin 8 Comments

So, Motorola has released its Moto Q and it is receiving generally favorable reviews. But just what is it? It is a super-thin Smartphone running Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0.

There is a lot to like about the Q. My favorite part of the phone is the gorgeous display. It is bright, clear and sharp. The processor seems fast enough for typical Smartphone tasks, such as running Laridian’s PocketBible for Smartphone Finally, it is indeed very thin, though its north & south dimensions are closer to a traditional Pocket PC than a phone.

Like most anything, however, there are some flaws. For example, no WiFi. This is to be expected, as the carriers (currently only Verizon) really want the consumer racking up the minutes. Just imagine all the revenue that would vanish if web access was possible via a wireless network. But my biggest non-technical objection to the device has to be that it doesn’t have a touch screen. The thing looks like a PDA and it just begs you to tap the screen. But no, it is just a humble phone and restricts your interaction to the Smartphone way of doing things. Of course, the QWERTY keyboard makes it much easier to input data than its Smartphone predecessors.

Oh, but that full keyboard, what problems it caused for us here at Laridian! Without getting bogged down in the technical details, let me give you an idea of what we faced. First, some background: Microsoft’s original vision for the Smartphone was device which excelled at accessing data, not data entry. To make it as easy on our customers to navigate through Bibles and search them, we offer guesses based on what you have input to this point. For instance, when the T9 input is enabled, typing an “A” in the Go To dialog leads the app to guess that you are perhaps intending to go the the book of Acts. The “guessing” which takes place in the search dialog is even specific to the Bible you are currently looking at, it only offers suggestions based on the words found in that particular Bible.

This seemed to be a nice feature, something liked by the Laridian staff who have a Smartphone and our customers. Then along comes the Q. Suddenly, there is no standard phone keyboard, no “ABC” on the 2 key. However, it is very easy to type an “A” using that snazzy QWERTY keyboard. Unfortunately, that input looks different from the previous Smartphone input for the letter “A”. But our app has no way of knowing what kind of keyboard the device has – you can thank our friends at Redmond for this! Here is where I skip over lots of technical information to tell you that it isn’t possible to do the suggestions on the Q like we do for all other Microsoft Smartphones.

So what is our solution? We can allow the user to just use the QWERTY keyboard. On the Moto Q that actually works well, since that device has a built in auto-complete facility which learns from your previous input, so that typing “Acts” once means that it will suggest that to you the next time you type an “A”. But even here, PocketBible runs into problems. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t know the type of keyboard the phone has, so we can’t know when it is appropriate to expect QWERTY input. What to do, what to do? We opted for defaulting to our normal helpful behavior of offering our suggestions. Owners of the Q will need to toggle through the input modes until they get the phone into “abc” input mode, which allows use of the QWERTY keyboard but without our suggestions. From now on, this edit box will remember this mode. This seems to us at Laridian to be as close to the best of both worlds that we can get, given the hardware and operating system limitations.

We will be releasing an update to PocketBible for Windows Mobile-based Smartphones soon which includes the changes to accommodate the Q, along with a few other enhancements.

I hope that if you have a Microsoft Smartphone, you will try PocketBible. I use it all the time and believe that, on the Q or other Smartphone, you’ll really like having the Bible with you.

8 Responses

  1. Will says:

    Thanks for the insight. I currently have a PocketPC but I plan on replacing that with the Smartphone. I’m not really a power user so a Smartphone version will be perfect for me. There’s not much Smartphones out there but I’m really impressed with the Q. I like the design and what it can give me. Also, Verizon’s data network (at least here in Denver, CO) seems to be much faster than that of the competitor’s. I was also told that the ‘landscape’ screen throws off some smartphone apps. I assume the PocketBible didn’t have any problems with that. Please let us know when you will be releasing an update and what the ‘enhancements’ would be? Maybe a Daily Reader add-on?

  2. Blou says:

    I recently moved from an iPaq PPC to the Q. I use 2 programs that I *had* to be able to use on the Q or I would not have made the move. PocketBible is one of those programs. I lost some of the functionality of PocketBible by moving to the Q but not enough to keep me from moving. I’ve had my Laridian PocketBible with me 24/7 for 4 years now. I don’t mind losing a few functions to be able to keep it with me on the Q. If you are a Motorola Quser or other Smartphone user, try PocketBible. If you love the Word, you will love PocketBible.

    If you have questions about PocketBible on the Q that you want to ask of someone not affiliated with Laridian feel free to email me at blou at techie dot com. I am not affiliated with Laridian and can not provide technical support but can answer questions about my own personal use of PocketBible on the Q.

  3. Will: PocketBible doesn’t have any problem with the square screen on the Q.

    We’ll keep you posted on updates and upgrades for PocketBible for Windows Mobile Smartphone.

  4. David Figueroa says:

    I actually read this blog message before I bought the program, but it did not make any sense to me, until after I purchased and tried the program on my T-Mobile Dash (HTC Excalibur).

    I have this same QWERTY vs T9 issue with the DASH, except I cannot figure out how to disable T9 or Multitap mode. So I cannot enter any words or phrases at all, since there are no “letters above the numbers” and I would have memorize what letters are assigned to what number.

    For me there does not seem to be an option to select “ABC” mode to allow QWERTY input- how to do this?

    thank you,


  5. Scott Gray says:

    Dave, as manufacturers introduce new phones, they all seem to like to differentiate themselves by having things just a little different than their competitors. One area of distinction seems to be input methods. Microsoft made some promises to software developers regarding which input methods are available and how they work. It appears to us that certain OEMs are ignoring some of the rules. The bottom line is that we have coded to the standard we were told to expect, but now we are finding that some of those expectations aren’t being met.

    We are currently researching ways to handle the new crop of QWERTY Smartphones. We don’t have a solution yet, but do have some work-arounds. In fact, the latest release of PocketBible, Smartphone Edition has a modification to help QWERTY users out: The input mode you selected is remembered, so that the next time you enter the text input box, the same mode is operative.

    This works well for devices which offer a way to change the input method. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help those having Smartphones which seemingly prevent the changing of input method. But there is some good news! Just today a customer passed along this tip for using our application on the Dash (note that I haven’t tried this myself, since I don’t have a Dash):

    1. in Options: uncheck “use T9 for input”

    the next time you need to do text entry:

    2. type “alt” and “space” together. This brings up
    input mode.
    3. select 1, “XT9 English”

    Now I can use the QWERTY keys directly.

  6. Darick says:

    Hi Scott – I bought the smartphone version for my Dash – works great! Only snag – while it allows me to use the qwerty to type first letter of the book – I have a problem with books that starts with ‘e’, ‘d’, ‘c’ etc- essentially those letters are also the number pads… hope there can be a fix.

    The other wish list – could we have some bible commentaries on the smartphone too? Pretty please?

    Thanks! :)

  7. Scott Gray says:

    Darick, as I mentioned above, we are currently working toward a solution which will handle the QWERTY phones. It isn’t as easy as one might hope, since each phone is slightly different and a solution for one won’t necessarily work for another. For instance, when we first encountered the Motorola Q, we made a change which allowed the user to select and retain the input method. This worked fine, at least it did until some other phones, such as the Dash, came on the market.

    So, we are working this issue and hope to have something for you and other Smartphone customers.

    While I can’t directly comment on what is next for the Smartphone, we at Laridian have discussed supporting other types of books beside Bibles on the Smartphone. This feature, along with several others, have been considered for the next major upgrade to the app.

  8. Darick says:

    That’s great – will be praying for you guys on the development team – hope to hear about the major upgrade soon! :)

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