Antiquated Features of Mobiles (Part II)

Firefox OS on 2 Devices


There are several features that we take for granted in mobiles that I’d make the argument that we don’t need as much any more. In a previous piece, I took a stab a remarking on some features that I don’t think are needed any more on a mobile. And now because of a piece at Nokia Conversations asking about button-less mobiles, I’ve got some more.

Power/Volume/Camera Buttons
Given what Nokia was able to demonstrate first with the flip to silence behaviors on the N95, and then with the ability to double tap the screen to wake it with the N9, its a pretty legit response, and one where its easy to say “no, we need them” but the better answer is “yes, its not needed”.

The better answer is “yes” because then we have to think about those actions that we use buttons for and figure out if there is another way to do those tasks than what we’ve done before. For example, given the advances in curved glass coming this year, it could make a lot of sense to tap the top of a side to turn on a device, gesture up/down to change the volume, and then perhaps a press-hold or tap to the bottom/right corner to imitate a camera button.

Task Managers
I think BlackBerry is getting it with BB10, and Jolla is inheriting this from their MeeGo roots; I just don’t see other platforms paying attention to this. Applications don’t need to be closed/exited, but they do need to be moved to easily. A paradigm where you have a screen that shows running apps and below that the non-running ones makes sense. A universal search feature that pulls content from all apps and even the web makes sense. An app that makes it (near) necessary that we manage all of that, I don’t see that as needed. And as a matter of course, if the device requires that much attention, then its possible that the product wasn’t designed with your usage in mind.

Social Networking Apps
I know why some groups of people think they are needed, but really, a social network – at least all of those which maintain some kind of popularity these days, should be baked into the system. A feature like MeeGo’s Active Screen or BB10’s Hub makes a lot of sense here. Beyond marketing and advertising professionals who essentially mine this content, its not necessary to be so focused (as in being an app). Its a communications stream, and should be treated like all the others.

Replaceable Batteries
I’m jumping the gun here given that its only a few models that are doing wireless charging. But, I think that unless the device is sold in an arena where repair-abiltiy is part of the key value points, that replacing the battery should be done away with for either making the device more friendly to multiple (quick) charging methods – or that some kind of kinetic charging method should be introduced that keeps it topped off after some level of movement activity.

Plus, if these mobiles are so smart, why isn’t the battery life getting better as we go further into this space. OSes are heaps of lazy coding in that respect.

Static Application Lists
One of the things that seems to make some folks happy is seeing page after page of applications to scroll through. As if having all of those pages, and forgetting which page keeps your most needed-at-the-moment app available is a sign of being more advanced. I think those pages should be done away with for a continually adapting most-recently-used list.

Its a smartphone, and as such, shouldn’t it learn your context of use and present to you what’s going to be needed – with the addition of throwing an application store search in there for those moments when you don’t have the application immediately at hand?

I wonder if I can come up with a few more. This list is getting fun.

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