Antiquated Features of Modern Mobile Phones

A year of evolution from Nokia - looks like there's some... on TwitpicOn Twitter, I tend to do more than my fair share of complaining about modern mobiles. Everything from the way they are updated, to battery life, to what’s being acclaimed as a “great new feature” makes it through my lens and is honestly asked if it makes that specific mobile, or the entire mobile industry better or worse. After reading some impressions about the newly announced Samsung Galaxy 3 at Mobile Industry Review, I started to go into that mode again, then I thought it would just be better to list them here and see how mobile audiences respond.

Battery Percentage Indicators
Feature #1 on my list would be a percentage indicator for battery levels. For one, unless you are using a feature phone, you are charging the mobile by the end of the day (which is a rant for another moment). That space should just go away for a battery icon that depletes, or for no icon/indicator at all – the notification area of the mobile should show you a warning when your battery gets to that 25% and lower percentage area.

You do that, and then you open the ability for the mobile to (a) learn when to shift itself into a power saving mode automatically, (b) give the user a 2nd screen to then close down battery-heavy applications/services when that warning level is met (add learning/AI to that as well so this becomes automated over time).

Siloed Contacts Applications
When I saw this in Maemo 5 and webOS I smiled – there was your address book, but it had not just your phone contacts, but was (nearly) smart enough to aggregate the contacts from various social networks, VoIP systems, and MS Exchange in there. Smart? Yes. So why are we still dealing with disconnected contacts apps (ahem, iOS). And why are platforms allowing for third party applications to silo contacts away from that central management hub? Tisk, tisk.

On-Screen Snooze/Ignore Buttons
One of the best features that I’ve ever experenced on a mobile came when I received my (Nokia) N95 and found that it had a yaw sensor and accelerometer. This little piece of gesture sensing hardware – and some 3rd party software (later rolled into the OS) – gave me the ability to snooze alarms and ignore calls by flipping my mobile over or doing a double tap to the middle of the body of the mobile when it was in my pocket. Despite mobiles now being able to do that, we still have the on-screen button for ignoring calls and snoozing alarms. This is wrong, you don’t take your eyes off the conversation, see who’s bugging you, and then do a slide-gesture to get back to your convo. No, no. You don’t removed eye contact with the conversant, flip the mobile over, and then let them marvel with you about how fun it is to ignore items which aren’t in front of you.

Web Browsers
“He said what?!” Yes, web browsers on mobiles are an antiquated feature. And not because “there’s an app for that” either. Browsers (still) mimic the web paradigm of the PC (larger screened, sit-down-and-browse behaviorial context). This is (still) a wrong approach for mobiles. Most mobiles now have a search function (search across device or web), this should be the default “browser” interface. Depending on what you are looking for, the respective native app should have the ability to be plugged-in from that web service. For example, if I’m looking for a music artist, then I go to the search app, I get queries pulled from the web and the device itself, if I choose the one with the music notes beside it, then my music player opens, and I am served a composite playlist of the artist from whatever serving websties (Pandora, Real, Amazon, iTunes, etc.). You don’t need a browser for that, just a more intelligent approach to integrated applications and behavior of a mobile context.

There’s also CDMA, charging ports, 3D cameras, and power buttons, menu/function buttons that can go on this list. But hey, I can’t let it all out in one fell swoop – someone’s got to talk about the innovative new approach to something on this list when a new(er) mobile launches next week right?

One more: In a tweet, I mentioned that the hard camera button should be another. In a past post I explained how this could work, then Samsung made a similar feature in its SIII mobile which was announced a few weeks back. I’m sure I am on the right path with these thoughts, even if building it takes a while 😉

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