Monday, September 24, 2007

Integrated M(apps)

Here's an example of what I mean about integrated mobile applications on the device and its importance to the user experience.

I keep an eye out for examples of good mobile services that are integrated and don't make me think.

Take, LG's Viewty(KU990) mobile maps application. Note the navigation buttons and the zoom key - this is mimicking soft or hard keys on a touch screen device to navigate.. The application is ok, it's functional, but it's not taking advantage of the device touch screen capabilities (ie. no fingertip dragging). An opportunity missed...

Apple's mapping application is integrated with the touch gestures of the user-interface. Dragging a finger around moves the map. The zooming function requires a bit of learning via double tap or pinch/reverse pinch, but once known it's intuitive to use.

It's not really a fair comparison of course as Apple built the mapping application on the device and it's optimised to use the iPhone touch gestures, but someone obviously thought about this application carefully and dismissed the idea of navigational touch buttons. (This may be why it's one of the more popular iPhone apps.. A finger is easier and simpler to move the map around, not to mention faster.

I watched a friend use iPhone maps for the first time, never having used the device before (or any touchscreen device). He found his house in Devon and had zoomed in to roof-level view with minimal guidance in about 30 seconds. I didn't need to ask him what he thought, his reaction told me.

On a related note, a usability comparison between HTC Touch , N95 and the iPhone link.