…for example, if you’re working with text originally written by a non-native speaker of the language.
I wanted to change the setting on a very simple (kosher) Samsung flip phone, so that instead of answering calls automatically when I open the phone, it will only answer when I press the “call” button to accept the call (this gives me a chance to see Caller ID first).
I knew the setting was available somewhere. Well, I looked and I looked. I hunted through every possible menu (there aren’t many on this phone).
In desperation, I got help from an Israeli colleague, who found the setting in just a couple of minutes. It wasn’t obvious. The function can be found in the “Extra Settings” in the “Settings” menu — fair enough. But the function itself is called “Active Folder”.
As a native English-speaker, I understood “Active Folder” to mean “a group of files or functionalities that are activated”, and therefore didn’t select that function even when I saw it during my original hunt.
My English-as-a-second-language colleague understood “Active Folder” correctly: “the function triggered by folding the phone is active”.
“It’s easier to accidentally completely delete a new MMS than to send it.” [From the Small Surfaces blog]
If I were one of the people involved in inventing, developing, funding or launching GPS service, I’d be feeling very gratified right now (in addition to being rich). It’s sick that we need this kind of protection available, but it’s also exactly what technology is for. Good on them.
If only we could tag people just before they act.
GPS devices have been used for years to monitor sex offenders. But technological advances have now made it possible for the systems to issue warnings by cell phone if the offender gets too close to a specific victim.
Massachusetts adopted a law last year that lets judges require electronic monitoring of people who violate personal protection orders. Michigan, Oklahoma and Hawaii followed suit this year with GPS laws, bringing to 11 the number of states with related measures, said Diane Rosenfeld, a lecturer at Harvard Law School who proposed the Massachusetts law.
Some thoughts on Fashion and Mobile Phones…
A red iPhone sounds… good. That is, if it’s the red of the Product (Red) iPod; not that bloody fingernail color of the mockup at the rumor site. Odd how a color can do that.
So, it has struck me as rather odd to now want an iPhone. The reason being (and I know how badly this comes across) is that it’s now available in (Red).
Rumours are apparently out in force that Apple is preparing a Product (Red) version of the iPhone in time for Thanks Giving [sic].
[via SMS Text News]
In the context of a discussion of the impact of fashion on mobile device purchasing, I recently realized that if — big IF — syncing were perfect and complete, I’d love to have multiple cell phones. Different colors, different styles, work, personal, whatever. One for entertainment content, one for email and/or browsing, one for heavy calling.
What do I mean by “perfect and complete”? I don’t want to think about what’s in a phone. So total synchronization of contacts, bookmarks, content (photos, videos, music), calendar, notes… EVERYTHING.
And I don’t want to move the SIM card. I just want all the phones to be paired to the lines I use as profiles (one personal, one work, one U.S.) that I can switch between (or even have all three lines coming in, toggling them off and on as desired). Let the device synchronize every couple of hours, and I’m ready to roll with whatever suits the mood.
Now we’re talking.
Serbin founded Duo Guo in Shanghai after observing the huge demand, if not pent-up desire, of people to buy content for their mobiles right inside the store.
Many customers who had just spent close to a month’s salary for a new mobile phone were then rearing to load it up with value-added content such as software, games and other multimedia entertainment.
But in most cases, they just didn’t know how.
I hear a lot of predictions about the future of mobile user interface (not surprising: it’s my field). One that always hits me wrong is the prediction that “everything” will move away from the 12-key input pad to voice activation. This tag line, from Vlingo’s website, promotes that assumption (also not surprising: it’s their field): “Why tap when you can talk?”
SMS, the world’s most popular communication means by far (see below) embodies the polar opposite interface: everything is contained in layers within 12 keys.
SpinVox stakes a claim right in between Vlingo and SMS: they offer voice-to-text translation of voicemail messages and personal notes. The best of both worlds, so to speak; a combination of voice and text usage. SpinVox claims that it’s seven times faster to speak than to type. I don’t know what kind of tests that’s based on, but let’s accept it as true.
The real question we have to ask is, What do people prefer?
This semester, T-Mobile is tapping graduate students at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design for research insights. To investigate how people use their mobile devices, the students are staking out their local Starbucks and asking subjects to document their phone usage with digital cameras.
The project, which will last until May and could shape future mobile plans and phones, has already spawned one insight: Young people prefer text messaging to voicemail because it’s more direct. “It’s about how we deal with information … such a rich field for designers to explore,” says Associate Professor Vijay Kumar, who heads the workshop.
(from Innovative Cellphones, Forbes.com, March 19, 2008)
First major fact: No one input means is perfect for every use case. Forget what every input technology company website tells you.
Second major fact: 350 billion voicemail messages are left globally per year. (source: SpinVox presentation at MEX) I couldn’t find any numbers on the number of voice calls completed globally, but I expect it’s less than…
Third major fact: 2.8 trillion SMS text messages are projected to be sent this year. (source: Tomi Ahonen consulting) I’ll hang on a second while you go back and re-read that last statistic. Yep, 2.8 trillion.
Personally, it’s hard to me to imagine a case where I’d use voice activation of anything, with the possible exception of in a car. I’d hate it in the car, but might use voice control to keep my hands on the steering wheel. Even that’s a stretch. But let’s leave me out of it.
People do prefer text to voice in many situations. Why? Why tap when you can talk? Let me count the ways…
- Cost. SMS is usually cheaper per message than cellular calls are per minute.
- Privacy/Discretion. Often, you don’t want to be heard by your neighbors (eg, in a meeting). Or — sorry to break the news — they don’t want to hear you (eg, in a movie theater).
- Perceived time. I don’t know what the reality is, but people may consider texting (or emailing from a computer) to be less time consuming than talking by phone. Why? Partly because no time is spent on courtesy chit-chat; partly because time spent entering text isn’t registered the same way that time spent listening to other people talk is registered; partly, perhaps, it is an illusion.
- Insecurity. Call screening used to be considered anti-social and arrogant. Now it’s a normal part of life. But calling a mobile phone implies near-certainty that the other party will hear the call come in. What if the other party rejects your call? Even if the reason is a good one — he’s in a meeting, in the bathroom, sleeping, watching a movie, has his hands full — the sense is still that “something else” was more important than talking to me. Sending a text message alleviates the need to experience that little subconscious emotional tension while the phone rings. You send the message; the other party will respond within a reasonable amount of time (or won’t).
- Avoidance of intimacy. Having a vocalized conversation encourages a level of personal connection that isn’t necessary in a test message. There’s a protocol of “how are you?” and “how’s your Mom?” and “thanks for the update; I’ll get back to you.” People are often lazy, selfish, or not interested enough to invest that kind of energy when “im 10 mis l8″ will convey the required message.
- Burden of attention. Slightly different from the previous issue of the energy demands of intimacy, this has more to do with attention and focus. SMS allows you to interact as much as you want to, for as long as you want to, when you want to. You can limit your attention. In a conversation, you need to be “on”, to listen, to provide feedback — in other words, it takes attention.
If you are watching TV or reading emails or playing your PSP while the other person is talking, they will notice and be offended. In an SMS or IM exchange, you can only pay attention when you’re the one talking (and doesn’t that make for the most interesting conversations?). No feigning interest required. In that sense, SMS is the ultimate self-centered communication medium.
In fact, you might consider micro-blogging (eg, Twitter, Facebook status), which combines broadcasting with SMS, to be the truly ultimate environments for self-centered communication. That might explain their popularity.
And with this, I think I have a reasonable answer to the question: Why tap when you can talk?
From the PosiMotion website:
G-Park in three easy steps:
1. Park your car and hit the Park Me! button.
2. Get lost.
3. Hit the Where Did I Park? button. Brings up Google maps and creates turn-by-turn directions that will take you right back to your car!
G-Park also provides an easy-to-use interface for additional details. Available July 11 on the official iTunes App Store.
It looks neatly done. I’m especially happy that someone has done this, being a subject I’ve thought about for a while.
What does T9 Nav do? It gives you instant search access to everything in your phone. You use the number pad to enter letters as you would with text messaging, and T9 Nav searches your phone on the fly for anything that matches.
For example, SARAH = 7-2-7-2-4. If I press just 7, I get a long list of 99+ items. When I press 2, there are still 99+. At the next 7, though, it’s down to 54, and by the time I reach the last number, 4, there are only four items to choose from. The application searches contacts, calendar and to do items, bookmarks, music and more. You can click directly on a search result item to access or open it. Stunning. Just stunning.
1. T9 Nav is really, really easy to use.
2. It doesn’t interfere with dialing, it just takes place above the dial input field.
3. Results are lightning fast, even instantaneous, and complete. A far cry from the native Nokia search, which only searches — slowly — by first name/last name OR company name (depending on how the content appears). I’ve got it loaded on a Nokia E65, by the way.
Awesome stuff, friends.
The whole tagging thing is interesting. I think of tagging information as bookmarks for life. I’ve been doing it for ages, but now there are plenty of tools to help me do it (not that I use them).
Tagging is a reaction to search technology, and is proportional to the use of Search as the interface to the data. If you usually search for a contact in your address book by name, you aren’t likely to do lots of tagging in the notes field. On the other hand, if you usually do a search by, say, title (”Barber”) or where the contact lives (”London”) then you might.
Just the number of ways that we mentally search for a name or number — by first name, last name, company name, city, event where we met, job title, appearance (”the bald guy who sat next to the CTO”) — is astonishing. It’s all the more astonishing that my Nokia E65 only searches contacts by first/last name or company name (but not both — depending on how the card is listed.
I’m very sensitive to the way names are spelled: once I know how someone spells their name, I rarely (if ever) get it wrong. No Mark for Marc; no Allen for Alan. The spelling is an inherent part of the way I see the name in my mind when I think of the person. There have been a few occasions where I got a spelling wrong upon introduction (my fault or the introducers), and I’ve compensated for that by spelling the name incorrectly in the contact’s notes field. So one unexpected part of tagging data is tagging it incorrectly, too, so that it can be found by people making a mistake.
All of this rambling is a long way of saying that I think there’s still a huge opportunity for improvement to the interfaces for searching content on our mobile devices.
I often am in situations where I know the info I need is available, I just can’t get it [on the mobile device] – frustrating. But it keeps the voice traffic up! – “hi, are you near the computer right now? Great, can you check on the bla, bla, bla…?”
Isn’t it pathetic that this is still true, two years later?