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Oct 12, 2008

Windows Mobile Devices with no Hardware Buttons

Yesterday I posted the following post in MobilitySite (see below). There has been many comments there that indicates Windows Mobile power users actually prefer more hardware buttons (instead of less).

Here's the post:

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imageHave you noticed a new "minimalism" trend in Windows Mobile phones designs?

New devices (for example: HTC HD, LG Incite) come with really few hardware buttons.

No 'OK' button, no 'Start' key, and even... have mercy... no D-Pad buttons!

(hmm... is it something I said?)

 image  

Knowing the limitations of Windows Mobile, I wonder how good the user experience can get without having some of the traditional hard buttons.

Most of the new applications are designed in a way that does not require a stylus or d-pad: they are what we call: finger friendly.

But the problem is that up to this point - the vast majority of Windows Mobile applications is not yet finger friendly: mails, SMS, calendar, files explorer, different settings, word, excel - all of those are older applications not well designed for finger use.

Few examples:

image 1. Menus: I often find myself navigating through menu items using the d-pad.

Since Windows Mobile was originally designed for stylus use - the menus are too small to be clicked by a finger. The workaround to this problem is the d-pad - can you imagine using a finger or pulling the stylus each time you need to click on a menu item?

image 2. Lists: Let's say I need to scroll down a bit in order to select an image when I'm using the default files explorer. Currently, the fastest way (for me) would be to use the down arrow button (leave it pressed) and this would move the selection down 1 by 1 until it will scroll the entire list down. I personally hate using the scroll-bar with my finger (or pulling the stylus out of its' endless sleeping mode...)

I assume that if I try harder and can come up with some other examples, but I feel that those 2 are strong enough to prove that Windows Mobile is not yet ready for finger navigation only.

 

This, I hope, is something that will be solved in windows Mobile 7. I'm really anxious to see how the user interface will look like, but until that point, I would rather stick with some hard keys to ease and speed things up when I'm using my phone.

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Following the comments - I have decided to look for ways to tweak things around and change some settings in Windows Mobile. I found some interesting stuff - which I will write about in a different post.



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