I just wanted to highlight this article [requires registration] from today’s New York Times. Basically, the article is comparing the new Samsung “Blade” (A900) with the hugely popular Motorola RAZR, but the real story here is the detailed analysis of some key human factors issues with the RAZR’s UI as compared to the Blade’s. When did the mainstream press start covering usability issues so well, and as such a key criteria? Very cool. Of course, no mention of the browser on either phone, so they still have some catching up to do. Forget about the address book, which one supports WICD Mobile? As a side note, what is up with Motorola and usability? It sucked six years ago when I got my first Timeport (the only tri-band phone then available) and it sucks now. And by the way, the RAZR is just an updated StarTAC, isn’t it? Feh.
So I finally got around to downloading and installing Yahoo! Go mobile. Am I impressed? Yes and no… It was not that straightforward to download the application and get it running on a Nokia N70. There are some aspects that are quite unintuitive. Overall, I think it’s a good start. I mean essentially it is an application that launches a few other mini-applications (for photos and Yahoo! Messenger), some built-in S60 applications like Mail and Calendar and then has a bunch of Web-links for content (like “ringtones” — ugh!). One problem is: I can’t get it to bring up Opera as the default browser when it initiates a browsing session (admittedly this is probably a S60 problem but it would be nice for the Yahoo! application to give me the option of setting an alternate browser). I wish the content wasn’t just a link off to a browsing session — how about reading news through a built-in RSS reader? To be fair, they’ve indicated that mobile Konfabulator-style widgets are the next step, so maybe integration of these will solve some of these issues. The background synchronization and email config seems to work fine — I was up and running with my Yahoo! mail account in minutes once the application installed. I wish you could replace the phone’s “active idle” screen with the Yahoo! Go application and that the applications’ main screen could contain more dynamic content (like a mini-my-yahoo: number of messages in your inbox, top headlines, etc…).
Verdict: It’s a great start.
We have over 600 people signed up to the Mobile Monday London mailing list and we will be very close to the 200 mark for attendees at our next event. Unbelievable!
Here are some brief predictions for 2006:
1. 2006 will be the year of the mobile Web. We will see a huge wave of innovation as companies large and small get into the act and create innovative new concepts and services for Web users across a range of devices. The mobile Web will go “mainstream.”
2. The mobile Web meets the developing world. Communities that traditionally haven’t had access to the Web, on the other side of the so-called digital divide, will start to become served by Mobile applications and will start to use mobile devices and networks as their single means of access.
3. Bush will be impeached over the illegal NSA wiretaps and leave office in disgrace. Hey, I can dream, can’t i?
Happy New Year everybody!
The W3C Mobile Web Best Practices working group that I’m chairing got a nice write-up in the Herald Tribune! Especially happy about this because the IHT is kind of “my” newspaper — I read it every day on my way to work.
Well they said it couldn’t be done, but we’ve managed to organize a follow-up to the immensely successful first Mobile Monday London event we held last month. This one will be on December 5th in Soho — details here. I just made the announcement to the mailing list 3 hours ago and already we have over 50 registrants so it looks like we didn’t scare too many people off last time. Exciting stuff!
So in May when I went over to Japan, I got myself a new-fangled 3G phone. Because I don’t like to carry more than one device on my person, since then the Blackberry has taken a back seat. In fact, it has mostly sat in my bag with its battery drained. OK — the other reason was that people were starting to point and laugh when I used it as a phone. It’s actually a perfectly good phone. Anyway, last week, for some reason, I dug it out, dusted it off and charged it up. I had completely forgotten what a productivity booster the thing is. Just the fact that it lets me clean up my inbox while I’m on the Tube is reason enough to use it.
If only they made a UMTS model with video calling.
Hey — I was quoted in the press yesterday! I’ll treasure this moment. Oh yes.
I am frankly in shock at how many people have responded to my call for participation in Mobile Monday London. Less than a month since I sent out some initial emails and we now have 300+ people on the mailing list. We held our first event last night and had over a hundred people here at the Vodafone offices. The crowd was a good crowd, the speakers were great — it all went off without a hitch (well — the sound system did cut out half-way through but you expect at least one crisis and this was a relatively minor one). Check out the Web site for the pictures and more details. Now comes the hard part: planning the next event when I won’t even be here. What have I gotten myself into?
I had the pleasure to take a test drive of Nokia’s new browser yesterday, while speaking at their XML conference. I just have to say — it’s good. If this technology gets into enough hands, it could really open up use of “The Web” from Mobile. The “back button” functionality is especially good — it lets you page back through a series of thumb-nail views of previous pages, which is a quantum leap beyond current user experience. I’m a bit less sure about the addition of the pointer — will adding a pointer to the mobile browser create a better or more confusing user experience over all, especially when users might be switching back and forth between mobile-friendly content and “raw Web” content?