Shift to touch-screen
The iPhone revolutionized touch-screens in 2007. Apple was visionary; everybody else is just catching up. What do we have so far?
All market players, including large phone makers such as Nokia, Samsung and HTC, and large online service providers such as Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion, have released touch-screen phones. Some phones are monolithic, having a touch surface only, while others are transformers, having sliders with a separate physical keyboard. All products are still single-side touchable, which is predefined by hardware design.
New approaches have emerged, teasing us. Windows Phone 7 uses bounce and wave effects to dynamically show the pieces of invisible content. It also truncates content to tease you statically, driving you to take actions to see that content.
Could you avoid a touch shift in mobility? No, it has happened already. Is it good? Yes, although it may be problematic for some users (such as seniors), and this must be considered by UX designers. The transition from non-touch to touch phones might have a more gradual learning curve, so the efficiency and effectiveness of new phones could be under greater scrutiny.
Default mobile screens are yucky
You might be surprised by such a statement, but user experience has found this out. Other issues are related to the speed of making a mental choice. Another is related to the physical selection after the mental choice is made.
The more alternatives we have, the more time we need to make a mental choice. When it comes to mobile phones, Hick’s Law is in effect: The more icons we see on the screen, the more time we need to think over what we are doing. There’s also Fitt’s Law: The smaller the item is, the more time it takes to actually touch it. And the longer the distance to the item, the more time it takes to reach over and touch it.
Those effects are most pronounced the first time with the phone, but after a while, users get used to where things are.
The situation with default screens is interesting. iPhone and fifth-generation Symbian devices have average conformance to those laws. Windows Phone 7 has better conformance, while Google’s Nexus One seems to be a UX failure and is likely to be updated with a new model. But the Windows Phone 7 screen has not been optimized for high-information resolution, so it will need to be updated as well.