Crosswords on MS Smartphone Logo

This page is for users of Crosswords version 4.2 (and the latest, 4.4 beta 10) for Microsoft's Smartphone OS. Version 4.2 has shipped: you can download it now. This version also works on PocketPC handhelds.

Navigation without a Touchscreen

Lack of a touchscreen is a significant difference between Smartphone and Pocket PC. What follows is a brief introduction to using the five-way navigator and any keys you do have to navigate and make moves in Crosswords. These techniques work on PocketPC as well; it's just that there touching the screen is an additional option.

Concepts: focus and diving

The screen element that will process key strokes is said to have the "focus". In Crosswords, the focus starts at the top level, in which case it is on either the scoreboard, board, or tray (or scrollbar if one is needed). You shift the focus among these objects using the four directional arrow keys. Top-level focus is indicated by a background or border in the focus color. It's on the board in the image to the right.

Pressing the center key causes the focus to "dive", to enter an element within the top-level object. The top-level focus highlight disappears, replaced by the element having the "dived" focus being drawn with a background in the focus color. You move the dived focus just as you do the top-level, with the five-way's arrow keys. In the image to the right the focus has dived into the tray and is on the Q tile.

When the focus is dived, pushing the center key is the same as tapping the focussed element on a touch-screen device. Some elements, e.g. bonus squares and scoreboard entries, respond differently to a pen being held for a fraction of a second. Trigger that behavior by holding the center key down.

To move up from the dived state, returning the focus to the top level, use the escape/back key, or the spacebar if you have one. Also, if you navigate the dived focus beyond the edge of the element that contains it it will return to the top level.

The focus color can be changed via the Edit color dialog.

Using the keys

While the five-way is used to move the focus, the other keys -- numbered keys in the case of a nine-key phone keypad, QWERTY keyboard keys if you have them -- can be used to move tiles from the tray to the board. Keys 1-7 operate on the first through seventh tiles, while keys with letters operate on tiles that bear the same letter. In the screen at right, pressing the 3 key or the N key will move the third tile onto the board where the arrow is. If there were no arrow but a focussed and empty square, it would move there instead. The backspace key (if you have one) will return the most recently placed tile to the board.

An example

You're playing against a friend who's just handed you the phone: it's your turn. First, you'll show your tiles (if necessary) by moving the focus to the scoreboard, hitting the center key to dive, moving the focus within the scoreboard to select your score, and then hitting the center key again to activate it. If you have set a password you will be prompted for it now.

You study the board and your tray tiles, looking for a good move. You can reorder the tiles if you like: move focus to the tray, then dive into it. Hitting the center key when a tile is focussed selects or de-selects it. Moving the focus when a tile is selected moves that tile too -- drags it, in effect. The tile separator can be dragged in the same way.

Finally you're ready to move. Shift the focus to the board, dive into it, and position the focus where your first letter will go. Hit the center key once for a horizontal arrow, again for a vertical arrow. Now use your keyboard, numbers or letters, to choose tiles from the tray and watch as they appear in sequence on the board.

To commit your move, you can use the "Turn done" menu item, or you can touch the pending score area of the tray: move focus to the tray, dive in, and move focus to the pending score area. Then press the center key. If instead you want to return all your tiles to the tray, move focus just right of the rightmost tile in the tray before pressing the center key.

And a request

Though Crosswords 4.2 for Smartphone is finished, I am always looking for ways to improve it. If you notice problems, or think of ways that something could be done better, please let me know. In fact, I'd love just to know what kind of Smartphone you're using it on. (I like hearing from PocketPC users too, of course.)