Designing mobile presence: Customizing my Nokia N75

Since I last posted I’ve learned more about my Nokia N75. Like any new technology system, there’s a learning curve. I tend to take mine slowly, answering questions as they arise rather then, say, reading the owner’s manual from front to back. Today I was cursing that I had no control over access to my most favorite apps – that I had to do the same repetitive drilling every time I wanted to open gmail. Then I thought to check the owners manual and voila – turns out that there’s “an idle screen” mode, turned off by default (so you wouldn’t know it existed) and accessible only by drilling deep into the settings and configurations menu. This mode allows you to place 6 items in a little bar at the top of your idle (home) screen for one-click access. Cool! Later I also discovered I could change the default soft key shortcuts from “messagaging” and “MEdia Net” to my choice. OK – that’s cool too, but many users will never figure this stuff out because the settings are buried so deep.

Speaking of owner’s manuals, I discovered that the S60 web browser feature — the one that took me days to find — was also mentioned in the owner’s manual. Unfortunately, you had to stumble upon it, just as you have to on the actual device. There are two entries for “web” in the index and neither discusses the S60 browser. Likewise, the on screen help was useless. The key factor in both places was (somehow) understanding that the browser was located in a folder called “tools.” This is a seminal problem with hierarchical menu systems; functional pieces of technology are divided into applications, actions, settings, features, etc. and then lumped together into categories that are often not intuitive or even clearly descriptive. The current mobile UI is wedded to hierarchical menus due partly to screen limitations, but more to deeply rooted interaction paradigms. I think the iPhone will blow the paradigm to pieces. Bring it on.

Now that I’m understanding my phone multimedia computer better, it’s starting to become a pleasure to own. I love that I have one click access to my RSS feeds via google reader. Waiting in line for a latte becomes an opportunity to do a little reading. Checking the weather while motorcycling is now one click away as well, instead of a clumsy drilling process. (That would’ve been helpful two weeks ago when we were heading into severe wind in Central Washington.) I’ve yet to use the camera or video recorder much, nor listen to music, but I’ll probably venture into that territory soon. And I’m eager to try out nuTsie the new service that lets you “access your entire iTunes music library from your cell phone.” Glad I didn’t bother to download any of my own files into the device.

1 Comment

  1. seacat said,

    June 11, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Do you think the first iteration of the iphone will blow the paradigm–right out of the gate? Or do you think it will take a while. enquiring minds want to know…

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