One of the great things about being involved in the digital / web industry is the recent plethora of new smartphone devices. We are verging on a transformational market, talked about for years, going mainstream in a major way and I can’t wait.
One of the key aspects that is driving this growth is that developers and designers have been thinking really hard about the user interface (UI) and making it simpler and easier for users.
As mobile / cell phones developed they crammed more and more functionality in… and some of the UI’s became impossible to use for technophiles, never mind the general public. That became unsustainable and Apple showed that by simplifying the UI, the general public could buy into more complex mobile / cell phones and smartphones.
The last few years have seen the iPhone, Android devices and my personal favourite todate – Palm WebOS devices, come to market and make a huge impact, taking market share from the mobile / cell manufacturing giants of Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola – largely due to their UI’s being usable. Although Microsoft has developed smartphone software (for those traditional mobile / cell players) for a long time, it has been surprising to see how long it has taken them to realise Windows Mobile sucked, and how ever increasing amounts of functionality did nothing to help the user navigate and use the devices.
So today Microsoft released Windows Phone 7 Series – and I am rather surprised by the amount of negative comment. Too many people seem to be in for Microsoft bashing… and all too often for no good reason. If you take time to consider Windows Phone 7 Series, it is a huge improvement on past Windows Mobile platforms – they have actually thought about the UI, and come up with their own version. That version is clean, crisp and focuses on the most used applications. The navigation (clearly pinched from the Zune) is verging on becoming iconic – and who would expect that from Microsoft.
A real surprise, has to be that recently Apple released an old, rehashed product in the shape of the iPad – where as Microsoft has launched a product with an interface that is verging on being very cool. Who would have thought it. I would love Microsoft to take this thinking further and apply it to the iSlate / ZuneSlate.
As with all upsides their are downsides. Microsoft, along with Apple do not seem to be supporting multi-tasking. I have found this a really useful feature (and a number of friends and colleagues with iPhones have found an annoying missing function) when using the phone / cell, and having the ability to access some alternate information, be it a website, SMS, email etc. I understand that it can affect battery life – but Palm managed it 18 months ago… and surely technology has progressed to improve battery life / usage?
I hope that Flash support is not also ignored, for the same reason – as this could really give Windows Phone 7 Series an edge. We’ll just have to wait for the holiday season 2010, when production models are planned for release to fully see what Windows Phone 7 Series is fully capable of.