Interesting idea, but it would be a bit hard to spot the necessary app icon in the zoomed out view. And the current page indicator would have to change to better reflect the spatial position of the page, which would influence the screen estate.
A glimpse of upcoming Maemo smartphone platform shows that Nokia still doesn’t get it, the UI is as aesthetically challenged as S60 was. Overall look, alignment issues, poor choice of controls etc. The devil is in the details, not pure specs.
With software becoming the main differentiator for the mobile (social networks integration, services, app stores, upgradable firmware etc) it seems that hardware "as killer feature" is forgotten. And I'm not talking about CPU speed and RAM.
Imagine a phone that feels like a Leatherman tool for voice calling and messaging, all other features are secondary. Reliable, built to last, excellent sound quality, comfortable big buttons, outstanding battery life. Not that expensive. A rugged metallic traveller phone with great sound quality and 50 days (like Philips Xenium) standby anyone?
And instead of adding an updated music player or video editing application for the next model please try a dual SIM version. Or a torch light. Or the ability to be charged by solar power. Those hardware "features" are limitless.
It's when old interface logic are still used despite disappearance of the factors behind that logic. Pros: familiarity, user expectations. Cons: limitations to innovate in some cases.
QWERTY layout was designed as an effort to reduce the frequency of mechanical typewriter typebar clashes. It's still the main keyboard layout. Today if you were to design a simple text entry screen keyboard for a device used in portrait mode, would you stick to the "wide" QWERTY layout like that crammed one on Nokia 5800 or design a completely new one?
Calculator keypad is "inverted" to the phone dialpad. It seems no one knows why calculator keypad is using the opposite layout. No calculator manufacturer can provide a meaningful answer on that. Today the phone style keypad became default for ATM UI's and other keypad interfaces.
Snooze time is 9 minutes, because back then the engineers didn't have the flexibility when they added snooze gear to mechanical alarm clocks in the 1950s. The goal was to have a snooze time around 10 min, but the gear could provide only 9 min. Today even the digital clocks have a 9 min snooze.
Now when the touch interfaces are starting to appear on mid-range and even low-end phones the interface challenge is how to provide similar navigation freedom to non-touch UI’s stuck in 5-way joystick navigation. The problem is that the joystick is used to navigate between elements of the active window/panel, but how would you easily move between panels without compromising the 5-way “freedom”?
One of the possible solutions is “flat” UI with additional controls for moving between interface panels. Directional buttons will provide quick switching between different views and joystick/d-pad would be used for navigation within the window.
One of the company to watch for inspirational interfaces is korean iriver. They did a nice job on their D-click UI , followed by interesting interface decisions on SPINN. Now the new P7 has the desktop that follows the “Content is the navigation” idea. I’d like to see what they’ll do with the iriver phone.
Leaked screenshots of Samsung Alias2 show another take on “real-world” interface like Microsoft Bob (or Magic Cap as mentioned in the comment to previous post). Touch interfaces with their direct manipulation paradigm seem to revive this real-world UI concept. The big advantage everyone is after is that the users should be able to quickly transfer their skills from interacting with real-world objects to virtual ones.
Strangely it seems same mistakes are made that lead to Microsoft Bob flop: taking the “real world” approach too literally. Virtual world becomes subject to the limitations of the real world and it becomes impossible to augment the interface beyond the behavior of the real world objects, otherwise the metaphor is ruined.
If you have a “room” metaphor with all applications displayed as real-world objects what happens when you install a new one? How would you fit a lot of status messages in this metaphor? Questions like these would arise creating such interfaces. Ideally real-word UI should borrow the familiar aspect of real world objects, but not also their limitations, feel more like augmented reality then just a virtual copy. Then maybe you won’t need a dog character to guide you through the interface.