User Interface idea

Derek Pressnall dpressnall at
Sun Aug 12 20:17:52 CEST 2007

One of the things that I've found on most pda-phones/smartphones is
that they make the phone capabilities feel like just another
application.  But when you want to use the device as a phone, it would
be nice for the rest of the features to melt into the background.  The
Motorola A780 does this nicely; it is a pda-phone when the flip is
opened, but with the flip closed it becomes a regular feature-phone.

So, that gives me an idea for UI layout.  First, have the interface
support two virtual desktops, most likely via the window manager.  The
primary desktop (PDA desktop) would remain how OpenMoko has it
currently laid out.   The second desktop (PHONE desktop), however,
should resemble the face of a normal phone.  The bottom half (or two
thirds, whatever) of the screen would have a permanent phone keypad
displayed (the keypad app), includuding directional buttons and
several special-purpose buttons (answer/disconnect, function-A,
function-B, Menu, OK, etc.).  Any application running in the Phone
desktop would only be able to write to the window in the upper part of
the screen, and they would receive their input through the keypad app
runnin in the bottom.  The keypad app could have an API so that apps
can request that certain keys be re-labled when that app is in the
forground, but other than that the keypad would always display a
similar layout for any running app.  This would enforce a consistant
feel among the various apps.

Now any app that wants to use the secondary Phone desktop would have
to be specifically coded for it; I'm thinking that apps such as the
Dialer would be running in the background, and have an active
connection to the Phone desktop along with the PDA desktop.  The list
of apps that should have Phone desktop capabilities would include the
Dialer, SMS/Email, Media player, Calculator.

Also, I haven't decided what the best method of switching between
desktops should be -- should a common button that appears in both
desktops toggle between the two, or should there be two buttons that
appear on each desktop, at opposite sides of the screen, so that you
know that hitting the lower left corner of the display will always
bring up the Phone desktop (even if it is already displayed).  Or
maybe have one of the hardware buttons assigned to this task.

More information about the community mailing list