Several months ago I switched from a very basic cell phone to an Android phone, with much trepidation. I actually had one salesman tell me that it might not be a good idea for me based upon the technological leap it was from my old phone. I decided to take the plunge, and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. I have never had a "smart" phone with a keyboard, so I can't speak to that issue, but I have been very impressed by the smoothness of the all-touch interface on my Android phone. I'm sure that the Apple interface is also very smooth, but I haven't really worked with it.
It is one of the few times that a software based product has exceeded my expectations. I began to feel like the darn thing was anticipating my every move when I started using it. It would flash help keys when it sensed that I was doing something that could be done an easier way, and lead me through a different way to do what I was trying to do. I found the learning curve to be very pleasant, and fast.
As to the issue of emergency dialing, my android phone allows emergency dialing by pushing a button on the screen, even when the phone is locked. I had never actually tried it until I saw these posts. It takes you straight to the number pad in one touch.
I have pretty big paws too, but I don't have much trouble with the interface. I use "swype" inputting for texting, and find it to be pretty unbelievable. You just drag your finger or thumb around on the keyboard (screen), and it detects what it thinks you are trying to spell. I find it to be very accurate. Don't know how it does it, but it works very well for me.
I'm eager to see what Windows 8 looks like, since it appears to be moving toward the tile and touch interface of the phone world.
User Interfaces Should Be Easy to Navigate and that is the "social commitment aspect" of good design rather than design for the sake of realising functionalities. I think there should be a standard to ensure product design satisfies some aspects of this though this idea may sound as dictative in nature against the free spirit of design. But then no one should "suffer" just becasue s\he has bought the product ...!
I understand what you mean about the Android OS, Ttemple. My teenage daughter has a smartphone with Android. While I don't need the full functionality of a smartphone, it's important to her and she's willing to pay for it out of the funds she earns tutoring. The all-touch screen keyboard is much easier to use than a button keyboard. It has 4G and runs like a speedboat.
When we have Bluetooth communications enabled on our Samsung phones, the Bluetooth logo obscures the digital-time display. It took a while to figure out how to disable Bluetooth and get rid of the logo, but doing so caused the digital time to disappear, too. Go figure.
Rob: When you use this stuff all day long, as kids tend to, I suppose it seems obvious. But those of us who don't carry smartphones everywhere are going to have some problems catching up. Cadillac's CUE is based on smartphone interfaces and Toyota is working on an automotive interface with Microsoft and Intel. I think I can take a pretty good guess as to what those interfaces will look like.
Having spent 10 years in cellular product development during the exponential advance decade (1997-2007) I can tell you that the 3 main engineering disciplines (EE/ME/SW) really played leap-frog regarding discipline-specific advancements.Early cellular in mid 1990's, the breakthroughs were in EE as the chipsets grew smaller and more powerful.ME and SW lagged behind. Circa 2002, ME made many advancements with color displays, unique ID's and folding hinge configurations (sliders, flips, bi-folds); EE had multiple protocols and was stable and cruising; yet SW was still kludgy and still lagging. Finally the iPhone era arrived around 2005 and SW was the new king of disciplines for telecom engineers.
Because of the leap-frogging and un-equal yoking of the technology curves across these three disciplines, the marketeers were always hawking the latest advancement to drive sales, but the total product was almost always as awkward as a clumsy adolescent. I suspect its about at this point in the timeline that Jon Titus's phone was designed.
Today, I think all three engineering disciplines have a common maturity, as well as commonality across the big OEM's (RIM, HTC, NOK, MOT, Samsung, etc). Most new models are pretty stable, and many "expected" features are becoming common, if not already governed as a "standard".
But this fact is also causing the telecom industry to become so commoditized that the engineering activities are no longer fun.Its now so cut-throat and always racing to production with huge volumes and low margins. Invention is on the decline. But that should bode well for the end-users debating ease-of-use in this discussion. I guess when engineering gets boring, its better for the mass user public.
Good point, Chuck. For some reason, these operating systems are very easy for kids to pickup. There are tons of stories about kids learning how to use an iPad or a smartphone before they are able to walk.
You're probably aware of the theory that Millennials (those born after the proliferation of PCs) adapt to technology much faster than we do in part because their brains work differently after years of exposure to digital technology.
Usability studies are a great way to determine if a product will be easy to navigate. I believe it is very important to go through this process. The designer is way too close to the product to be able to determine if it is going to be easy to use. Whenever I develop a web site – I always send the link to a variety of people with a list of questions for them to answer so that I can determine if they are having a positive or a frustrating experience with it and why...
One thing I see a lot is someone trying to be creative so they rearrange things on their web site. What they are often doing in reality is shooting themselves in the foot – people want to navigate quickly and if the shopping cart is in the center of the page when 99% of other web pages have it on the upper right – the user will not be impressed, they will be frustrated looking for it. I think this applies to any interface...
The reason that some kids are able to pick up on some systems so quickly is that they have nothing in memory to point to intuitive actions. intuition and experience are detrimental to learning a system that is designed to be different. Think about the problems that you would have driving if you needed to turn the wheel clockwise to turn left. But a child with no experience at all in a car would not have that problem.
So the real source of the difficulties is the software, which is mostly written by programmers, and we all are quite aware that programmers are not normal people. That is not a criticism, it is just a fact. They think differently than I do, that is very clear, and they think differently than most people. And like the other postings assert, the systems designers are too close to see what is counter intuitive.
So because software is the part that causes the most problems, one suggestion is to reduce the amount of software.
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
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