This page is intended to spark some discussion of the various UI issues that need to be faced to make a MID a wonderful device to use and thus carry around.
Comparisons are made to the iPhone which many feel sets a standard for UI on a small handheld device. For a review of the 2G iPhone click see this page:[ 2G iPhone Review] For a review of the 3G iPhone click see this page:[ 3G iPhone Review] For a general overview of MID UI Issues and ways to address them, click to see this page:[ MID UI Issues and Suggestions]
Default motions when using an iPhone
- Dragging your finger on the screen will scroll around with a motion similar to what you expect on Google Maps
- You can motion in a direction and slide or flick things to keep them moving with some sense of how far they will go. It’s very u seful and flashy. A light touch works best.
- Pressing on an item is like a single click.
- Double press
- In the browser it will either zoom in our out based on the last state.
- Screen rotate
- Several of the built-in apps support the rotation of iPhone into landscape mode. They are: Photos, Camera, YouTube, Safari (Browser) and iPod (5 apps). The rest of the apps do not support a landscape mode (12 apps).
- The pop-up soft keyboard is very small in portrait mode. It does expand slightly in landscape mode for the applications that support Landscape editing. The keyboard has a nice feel to it, though it can take some time to adapt to it. As you type there is a very nice feature, when selecting a key an exploded view of the key pops up above you finger. This feedback along with a clicking sound helps you make sure you are being accurate in your typing.
- Text Edit
- When you have a line of text you want to edit, you can hold your finger over the text in question. A magnifying glass appears above the text showing you where the current edit position is. You can then slide your finger left or right to move this position marker to where you decide. Lifting your finger places the marker at the desired location.
Special UI Enhancements
- Very simply, the music fades when you are listening to music and a call comes in. It’s a minor but nice touch. The music also fades back on once the call is finished.
- Shaking Icons
- The main screen has a shaking icon state to signify that the icons are movable. It’s a nicely done feature
- Home Screen
- Up to 9 home screens are supported. Once you create a 2nd home screen, you can move icons between the screens, and then the gestures work to move between the screens.
- Taking a 2nd call when on a call worked seamlessly. One button to hold, and once the 2nd call hung up you are auto-connected to the 1st call. It’s nicely done.
- When calling someone and you get their voice mail, it often happens that a few moments later they return the call while you are in their voicemail system. This is simply handled by a single (hang up and answer) option on the iPhone. Bravo
There are some negatives as a Win user. Things you expect to work such as click to drag, delete, etc do not work that way at all, and there is no concept of Right Click to see your options. The iPhone works like an OsX app with it’s mannerisms for moving and managing icons.
Weaknesses in the iPhone UI
These are things that should be addressed in a MID UI
- There is no copy and paste, in an app or between apps.
- Windows users have come to expect this, at least in some form.
- You can’t select multiple items in the list view.
- Thus you can’t delete more than one email at a time.
- Note: with the v2.0 update this has been addressed with the addition of an "Edit" button at the top of many of the List views. When you press edit there is a circular button added at the left of the items in the list where you can then select as many in the list as you want. Then you have the option of Deleting or Moving the multi selected items.
- You can’t delete individual call records, only all call records.
- This remains an issue with v2.0 and I wonder if a 3rd party app could be written to resolve this?
- You can’t delete individual text messages, only an entire thread.
- This remains an issue with v2.0, could a 3rd part app help with this?
- You can’t forward voice mail.
- You can’t forward a text message.
- You can’t send an image in a text message.
- From a Wince phone you can sent a MM (multi-media) text message with images or video.
- You can send an image in an email, just not a text message.
- No video support either.
- You can’t sync the iPhone without a cable.
- This is peculiar because you would suppose that given WiFi support this is possible. I'm sure it's due to some security issue or another.
- You can’t set alarms from within the calendar.
Weaknesses in the iPhone Software
These are areas where the MID can shine
- Browser/Safari does not support Flash
- Browser/Safari does not auto-fill forms
- No voice recognition, no voice dial.
- NoTodo lists.
- You can use notes as a substitute but with no way to cut copy, and thus reorganize lists, that makes this difficult to use.
- No true Chat/IM client (the text messages and browser support are reasonable replacements though)
- No stereo support over Bluetooth for headsets.
- Does not support OBEX file exchange, which means it cannot wirelessly send or receive photos, movies, sounds or other files from mobile phones or Bluetooth-equipped computers.
- No voice memos (leaving one for yourself as a reminder)
- No MMS support for images or video
- No custom ring tones from music you own
- you can buy ringtones from the online store
- No support for email lists
- No way to search phone books or song lists
- No way to move quickly up and down pages (page up/down)
- There is support for this in the contacts list by placing your finger at a relative position at the right edge of the screen
- Wireless sync is not supported
Strengths in the iPhone UI
- Because Apple owns the stack from top to bottom, they have been able to enforce strict compliance with their rules
- Software written using the SDK has the same look and feel, it organized the same using the same buttons, tools, locations for navigation and so forth. It makes all software on the device feel very similar.
- The SDK and ease of supporting common features makes things such as drag and flick very easy to implement in 3rd party apps, in fact for the most part they get it free.
- This is really nice as in many MID apps these features have yet to be added.
Strengths in the iPhone Software
- the iTunes system for syncing and updates is very reliable and works well. By running client software the ability to completely update and change the iPhone exists. The client software is powerful and has the ability to completely update and sync all aspects of the phone.
- the iTunes store is a great way to distribute music and now software.
The iTunes App Store, a MID app store?
Hundreds of applications and tens of thousands of developers have signed up and the results are rather impressive even in just a few months. Using the app store makes finding, evaluating and purchasing a very simple process. With bug fixes, upgrades and new version control all addressed by the App Store, it's a clean process for users.
From a developer point of view there are many restrictions that can be limiting. Apple is holding a few avenues open for their future expansion plans and not allowing others to step into those places. From a small developer point of view the App Store can be a rewarding experience as your work has an avenue to sell and a way to obtain income for your work.
The App store has to be one of the biggest potential winning aspects of the v2.0 software changes and something the MID world needs to evaulate for it's future growth and acceptance. The bar has been set and this will need to be addressed.
Ideas for MID Success
This section has now been replaced with a page of its own. Reach the page by taking this link: Ideas for MID Success