I find the developments in the whole mobile space quite exciting, but
I can't get past one issue and I was hoping that some of our mobile
experts and other usability experts could add some depth to one
I have noticed that mobile phones have always had a series of
applications that one uses regularly and as we become accustomed to
our phones we learn the paths to our favorite tools. The mobile phone
seems to becoming more and more multipurpose. For years I had assumed
that as we developed more devices that these small widgets would
become more and more singular in focus and perhaps even multiply.
But, I can see the benefits of having small, portable devices with
However, as the applications become more and more robust, I am
finding that the limited customization and increasingly deeper and
deeper navigation goes against the principals that make desktop
operating systems more and more task efficient. For example, the
German railway (Deutsche Bahn) has a nice application which I have
downloaded to my mobile phone, where I can download and check
schedules for any routes that they serve. It is a very practical tool
for anyone who travels a lot. However, when I want to pull up the
schedule for a train traveling from Frankfurt to Hamburg I first have
to unlock the phone and then go through 8 clicks in order to find
which track the train I want is departing from. Once I am done, I
then have to go through another 8 clicks to leave this application.
I don't see the functions of a desktop operating system where one can
have short cuts to data or applications placed wherever I want. I
also don't see an emergence of standards for building application
interfaces (this one is Java).
I haven't had the chance to test out a smart phone (or the iPhone)
yet, but from what I understand these more robust interfaces also
don't provide the kind of flexibility and standards that would help
us be more efficient.
So, my question is whether this is more of a limit of the physical
interface or the software interface? In this small display display
space and limited input capabilities, we are definitely restricted in
our interaction capabilities. The mouse + keyboard interaction just
doesn't exist for these small devices.