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Symbian Ideas Logo via Mobile CrunchWhile a lot of the conversation in mobile has been about what Symbian hasn’t been able to do, over at their now archived Symbian Ideas website, there was an idea that I posted that started some good discussion, and for a little while, had people thinking a bit more about what is and isn’t smart about today’s smartphones. What follows is that piece, Revamp the Behavior of Communicating.

Revamp the Behavior of Communicating

Currently, when we want to call someone, we navigate to a contact, then click the call button. Similar action happens when we want to SMS them. For IM we go to another app, but its usually the same type of behavior, find name, start IM. I propose that Symbian would do away with all of those vectors and have a contacts system that acts like this:

  • Contact exists in the address book with a name, IM service, email address, and mobile number
  • Because the IM service supports presence, location, and status, at a glance in the Social Object (Contact+more) View shows this status and a rough location (if published)
  • User clicks Send/Call button and then..
    • If the contact has set their status to away, SMS is chosen first as the method to communicate
    • If the Contact has set their status to “Voice Access only” then a voice call is initiated
    • If the Contact has set their status to busy, the option to send an IM or an email is given

If you will, instead of the person trying to figure out what type of communication works best, the person on the other end sets the rule, and then the initiator’s device “respects” that rule and by chooses the best communication method.

I also envision a system like this being able to receive/post the status messages of social networking services and corporate IM systems.

Further more, the mobile’s social object book (Contact list with additional components which may or may not be connected) learns through location and time-based information the types of communication the user most likely will receive and by default presents these modes. So, it learns that when you are at the location tagged “Work” and on the days Mon – Fri between the hours of 8 to 17 (5pm) and within a few weeks of this pattern begins automatically setting your mobile to the right profile, and diverts communications as you need them without your intervention.

Addition: I do think its also possible to get a status of a caller (available, on the phone) from the cell network, but not sure if this is more of a network polling piece, that’s then cellular service controlled, or if it is definitely something that could be used to better tune these actions into behavior-bending concepts.

Thoughts Since Original Post

This kind of device and network intelligence is something that we still have yet to see from the side of mobile technology. Yes, there’s a lot that has to happen for something like this to be normal. And I would expect that this is where some of the push within newly formed (and understood) mobile ecosystems will take place.

As you can see from the idea, I’m not all that concerned that it would be a problem for people to learn how to use a mobile that acts-reacts like this. It will be a bit of a learning curve, but it would definitely be something most welcomed in enterprise and event settings where distractions caused by your mobile welcoming communication would rather not be preferred.

One of the commenters in the original thread mentioned that Microsoft had developed signaling like this as a part of the original MSN messenger/communication protocol. It was never used, but the do have the patents for this kind of messaging to happen. Would be kind of ironic if this idea were to come forth in a Nokia-branded, Windows Phone-powered device on that note – but not all that impossible.

So what are your thoughts; should devices and networks be designed to better reflect how you wish to be communicated? Or, should we continue the common course of using as many messaging channels as possible, guessing that you might like one or the other when you finally reply?

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