Again: Advertising thoughts

Greg Alexander openmoko at
Sat Jul 14 17:56:28 CEST 2007

On Sat, Jul 14, 2007 at 01:52:20PM +0100, Giles Jones wrote:
> I understand where you are coming from. When designing mobile  
> interfaces it's not good enough to simply try to cut down the WIMP to  
> fit in a phone. Both Symbian and Windows Mobile both borrow from the  
> desktop. It would be nice if we can think outside the box and think  
> about what is easy to use. Too many touch screen devices don't use  
> screen space well. Make the buttons large and you can use your fingers.

In my opinion, Symbian and Windows Mobile are both thinking outside
the box.  This box was invented by Palm and culminated in the Palm Vx.
EPOC (Symbian) and Wince both take major departures from the status quo
through retard land, resulting in unfortunate products.

I think OpenMoko developers would benefit from playing with PalmOS.
The applications are as minimal as the iphone apps, but unlike Apple
engineering, they rarely demonstrate an infuriating lack of features.
There are numerous examples of open source apps which follow the Wince
path instead and it drives me batty.

I mean, the technology and marketting behind Palm is so retarded, they
are essentially making the same device they made 8 years ago but now
it costs more and has less battery life.  Few of the core Palm apps
actually benefits from the new color screen or ARM core.  Why aren't
they completely gone yet?  Because they invented the box, and they
did it well.

> If you minimise the time using the stylus then you eliminate a huge  
> section of the public who don't want to use a stylus (yes I know the  
> Nintendo DS has one and has sold 40 million ;)). I would say the main  
> reason for using the stylus is drawing lines.

There will be no time using a stylus.  This device does not have an
integrated stylus, so the fact that one will work is a red herring.
Treat it like an iphone, which will not detect a stylus even if you
ram it through the glass.  If you are the one out of ten developers
that carries a stylus around with you and uses it for everything, be
aware that you are in a minority.

The closest the device will see in its actual usage profile is
fingernails, which are good at onscreen keyboards and certain fine
gestures.  But many people don't have them.

> Using fingers to touch is less precise, but you could have an  
> interface that zooms, touch and hold an area to zoom that area, you  
> can then touch more accurately the item you want. Would be possible  
> with the additional 3D hardware in the consumer hardware.

Zooming is a horrible UI design and is only necessary to use desktop
UIs on palmtops, or of course to view graphical content (maps,
photos).  The only situation in which a desktop UI should be used in
OpenMoko is in the web browser, and the web browser will need zooming.

I hope I do not offend...I've just used so many awful palmtop UIs.  The
vision of what is "correct" is very clear.  It is a small screen, it
should not have more than 5 oversized fingerable buttons across the
bottom and five buttons across the top and a thoroughly minimal
single-function display in the middle (such as a telephone keypad or
a map display).  Anything more "busy" will result in a thrown Neo.

The need for occasional text input is a real hang-up, because it can't
be done both intuitively and well on the Neo.  I expect we'll see a
lot of different text input methods thrown about, hopefully we'll be
able to make them all play well together. :)

- Greg

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