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Posts Tagged ‘Suggestion’

Poll: Does Nokia need to change their default icons and fonts? (#N8 #Symbian)

June 16, 2010 18 comments

S60 5th Edition - via N97

Symbian icons and fonts – does Nokia need to change them?

(Did you also know that YOU can change both icons and fonts easily with themes?)

Scroll at end or click here to vote at the poll

The Nokia N8 received rapturous applause in its multimedia prowess and strength of design. The resounding notion was that in hardware it was the cream of the crop, but in software, much improvement was still needed.

Annoyingly, many things that people dislike in Symbian^3 have been ironed out in Symbian^4. The layout has improved over S^3, less space wasting, the homescreen isn’t limited to panels, screen buttons are more conveniently placed etc.

Though there are many UI elements needing to be improved, one of the common issues people had with S60 5th Edition (and S60 in general) was the tired looking fonts and icons. Since these are consistent across all Nokia devices, including the upcoming Nokia N8, it immediately contributed to the perception that Symbian^3 is still dated looking.

These are subtle aspects but they do make great differences to the overall user experience.

The Font

This is from a previous post back in february

A font says a lot, though quite subtly, and so often overlooked.

The narrow Nokia font made sense in older phones when trying to conserve on pixel usage. But now we’ve got high res screens and can afford wider fonts, narrow, sharp fonts look much less appealing than their plumper, rounder counterparts.

The curviness of “Century Gothic” [Very similar to “Prelude”, used in Palm Pre I think] is often found in children’s books because of the emphasis on classic alphabet shapes and thus readability. Prelude is probably the best font at the moment being used on phones. The letters are very curved, a little more readable than Century Gothic (E.G. letter r), but less wasteful on character spacing.

We probably won’t see that font on a Nokia anytime soon, but it’s a step in the right direction that Nokia’s changing the font to something more pleasing to the eye.

Palm Pre font – considered the best by many for a smartphone.

The change is small yet highly influential to the overall user experience.

Most importantly however, this change is easy to make and you can do it yourself.

Symbian has always been on the forefront of customizability in themes. Find the right one and you can change the entire look of the phone.

Symbian^4 with veranda font:

This unfortunately is not the default look for S^4, but just one of the themes available (I think we’re still stuck in Nokia Sans)

The Icons

One of the issues with the icons (other than their actual design) is their lack of uniformity.

What I mean is that when icons are placed in a grid, because they can assume any shapes,

  • they form less clean lines,
  • you’re not really sure where you can press (i.e. inconsistent clickable areas)
  • (It could be argued however, that such icons with transparent backgrounds make it easier to recognize those icons. Consistency over all devices helps this too.)

Take a look at the default icons below.

Take a look at slightly modified icons (Simple Symbian theme installation – no hacking). They look nicer, more modern (the ones that are changed anyway), but they still aren’t uniform.

Maybe it’s the space constraint, and these type of icons aren’t suited for smaller screens. (Maybe the busy backgrounds aren’t helping?)

Now check out how they look in iPhone icons, i.e. in standard shapes. Squircles (curvy squares?).

  • The grid lines are cleaner to the eye
  • There’s basic symmetry and our eyes by instinct favour this.
  • Curves are innately more appealing than jagged edges (more modern looking – streamlined)
  • You know to always press within the space of the squircles.

Here’s another look but with slightly bigger, more 3D iPhone icons.

Adding squircles

Whilst Nokia couldn’t simply copy iPhone’s icons and put into default themes, you could just put squircles behind the default/any previous icon design.

A bit like Maemo 5 on N900 homescreen (and the new Samsung iPhone Galaxy S)

Size, symmetry and layout of course is important as well as icon design. This is just to demonstrate the ease of adding squircles which instantly make it more visually accessible.

MeeGo tablets have already been seen with uniform circle or uniform square icons. Not a Nokia product, but possibly a shape of things to come?

Which one is the iPhone

N8 with slightly revamped icons. Same shape, more modern looking.

Note portrait mode still has similar S60 5th layout but landscape has newer 2×6 grid.

N8 with iPad theme

Poll: Does Nokia Need to change their Default icons and fonts?

If you voted yes to a change, how should the icons be changed? What font should Nokia use?

And remember, most likely we'll also get themes as customizable as S60 5th where we can change fonts and icons to our taste.

What Nokia needs to learn from Apple Keynotes. Pointers from Steve Job’s iPhone 4 announcement.

June 8, 2010 61 comments

This is mainly a tongue in cheek rant, written very late so it probably may not make sense.  Note – if you are reading this, you are not the “public” which is described in this article.

Again, press X now or prepare for walls of text.

Perception, perception perception.

What Nokia needs to learn from Apple Keynotes. Pointers from Steve Job’s iPhone 4 announcement.

(There could equally be a post on what Nokia could learn from Apple products)

Via Gizmodo

Every time there’s an Apple event, we see that above all else, perception is somewhat more important than the product or service itself. (In the sense of effectiveness of message towards the general public)

At your product launches, you should get to control the intended first impression (unless you “lose” your proto and it gets reviewed, forcing an early launch) so make the most of this opportunity.

What Steve and Apple do best is explain why features are great, why they’re useful to you. Regardless if it’s mundane, it helps general public and the press vomit it verbatim. It helps in direct word of mouth conversation and even more so in online social media. Even if people are retweeting nonsensical bullshit, people are talking about your product in the positive way you choreographed it.

Elaborate on your features.

When announcing N9/MeeGo phone, please take note. Don’t just dispense of it quickly and ignore it. (aka N900 and X6 announcements that were literally sneezed into existence). Don’t just rattle off features. Take time with it, demonstrate to people what a feature does, why a particular feature is good, why it’s useful and how the N9/MeeGo Phone does this well.

This gets people emotionally connected to a feature as they can personally relate with your examples and place themselves in positions where they could benefit from such features/services offered by your device/brand.

It’s no good just listing out screen resolution. Even if it’s not that much more than others. Don’t leave it to a users imagination of what they can do with a feature.

Implant situations where they’d have a need for a feature. Look what Apple did.

No one else could have made a better song or dance about increasing screen resolution. Great job at keeping the screen at 3.5" as now they can boast super high DPI. Image from Engadget

They showed you why the higher resolution is more beneficial, dragging on about seeing much more detail, smoother images/fonts. Apple even went as far as creating a pseudo-scientific (for retards) term, “Retina Display” to make the “increased screen resolution” all that more exciting.

Point out the obvious. You may have so many great features, you over look something you consider minute. e.g. in video calling, point out you can use both front camera and main camera. But don’t just mention it, e.g. create a side feature in being able to “see what you see with the back of the camera”. It’s simple, but again gives a context of that feature in action. e.g. 2, with front camera, point out how the depth of field is perfectly aligned to be in focus at arms length – focusing on your face for video calling.

It doesn’t matter if other handsets have an identical feature. If yours performs the same, don’t bother making comparisons. e.g. Not much talking on how good the 5MP camera is. If yours works better, point out how yours is better.

Create new terminology for old features.

Pseudoscience makes something exceed your ability to understand it, thus making it "magical".

As just mentioned, if you’re introducing a feature that’s years old, buff it up with new names to make it seem different and cutting edge. e.g. Instead of video calling, use “FaceTime”, instead of high resolution screen, use “retina display”, instead of iPhone OS4, call it iOS4. It’s like calling the janitor Chief Hygiene and Sanitation engineer.

Or if you’re not changing the name, just make a statement of how your feature is somehow better. e.g. “Multitasking – Done the right way”. Many mobile users aren’t aware of multitasking therefore claiming yours does it the right way (lies that may be or not) you imply others are doing it wrong (even though they may be the ones  giving you proper multitasking).

Retina Display (Via Engadget).

Marketing babble – Hyperbole power

It also helps to douse with ample hyperbole. “Amazing, magical, wonderful, phenomenal, great, fantastic, beautiful, slimmest, fastest” blah blah blah. Rinse and Repeat.

These subliminally etch into the mind that what you’re talking about is pretty special. Most people won’t have time to make their own decisions. They’ll just agree.

Furthermore, add some stats about how good your features are. It doesn’t really matter what they mean.

1) public avoids having to think and manually deduce comparisons; you’ve made it for them. N% thinner, N% faster, N% higher res etc.

2) It adds to what people can repeat. Instead of being a random specification 9.3mm think, stats give significance – i.e. N% thinner than Y.

I love Steve. Despite being an iDictator, he's a true Mobile Visionary who's revitalized the mobile market. (Edited engadget pic.)

E.G. Instead of just 960×640, you have, 4x resolution, 326 DPI. I doubt the majority even knew resolution iPhone was on previously, but that doesn’t matter. Now they know they have 4x resolution in new iPhone and 326 dots per inch (which they probably won’t understand either but hey, another thing to spout about).

Public don’t know what they want – you need to tell them.

Make them need what you want them to need. (via Gimodo)

What we have seen from Apple is that they don’t necessarily always bring new things to the table, but they do polish old features and make people want it. They weren’t the first with a touch screen, or a tablet, or to try and sell apps. They weren’t the first with 3mp cameras, 3G, GPS, Copy and Paste, Multitasking, Wallpapers, Folders, digital zoom and now Video Calling. But they do make a scene when they finally get certain old industry standard features and demonstrate to everyone that they do that feature better than anyone else (be it true or not e.g. multitasking).

The public, God bless them, has no recollection of these years old features and just blindly accepts them as yet another fantastic thing by Apple.

Nokia is the complete antithesis. They’ve always been pretty poor at shouting about things they do really well. They overlook fantastic features which Jobs would spend 10 minutes and 20 slides on were they to appear on iPhone.

Why does it work? Because the general public aren’t geeks. They don’t know what they want. They need to be told what they need. That’s why advertisements/commercials are so powerful. We just do what we’re told.

Apple has been the best in recent years of dictating exactly what you want in your devices and what features you don’t want. Even if it means being hypocritical years down the line, that doesn’t matter as the public won’t remember. e.g. When talking about Kindle in 2008, Jobs said, “People don’t read anymore”, but with launch of iPad, it’s all about iBooks, ePrint, eMagazines. If you aren’t good at something, dismiss it as useless, or even better, detrimental to mobile phone industry. e.g. Flash. MMS isn’t important, who sends MMS…Multitasking isn’t important it drains battery….

It’s all about creating the perception of need: Make your own game with your own rules

Jedi Mind Tricks not necessary to influence perception of others beyond their realms of logic. image via Gizmodo

Smartphones are luxury items, borne out of want not need. To be desirable you have to meet certain requirements, certain characteristics, certain needs. You can either meet the needs of an already established market or create your own niche. The latter more powerful as you’re in the driving seat. You make your audience need what you want them to need.

When apple announced the iPhone in 2007, they made a game changer. With that, they wrote the rule book. You want touch screens only, you want swishy UIs, you want apps, you don’t want hardware keyboards. Everyone else followed and played along, but it’s impossible to score points, catch up and over take when Apple is in charge and constantly changing these rules.

You must step out and make your own game, create your own set of rules, produce a new paradigm of mobile. Innovate, focus the public’s attention into wanting something else. e.g. how Nintendo broke away from the graphics race.

If you have a feature that you do particularly well, make that seem like the most important thing in the world. Establish that phone as the best in the world at doing that. Or at least make a deal of that feature if indeed it’s new for your device or a unique/rare feature in the market.

Smoke and Mirrors

In the end, all that matters is that people prefer your product over competitors. Manipulating perception destroys logical thinking, removing any sense of practicality. Just make them crave your device.

Of course it’s necessary to have a really good product, but when smartphones are becoming extremely similar (basically just a window) you need to separate yourself from the competition.

You need to have a believable, friendly, and really motivated speaker.

Steve Jobs is to the Tech world what Barrack Obama is to Politics. They both seem to speak with purpose. You kinda want to listen to what they have to say.

You’ve got a great presentation ahead of you, positioned your killer key points, now you need a fantastic speaker to sell it to the public.

We want someone who is used to speaking in public. Someone maybe who is used to following a script, or is excellent at speaking impromptu without hesitation.

E.G. Whilst it was great to see a product manager talking to honestly about the N8, it did seem terribly rushed and unprofessional.

Whilst Nokia has learnt from the N97 about only producing truthful video performance demoes, it doesn’t hurt to polish the delivery of your presentation, aka sales pitch. It’s not merely about content – how something is said maybe just as important as what has been said.

One way to assist excellent delivery is to pepper the presentation with  highly choreographed and well directed videos (perhaps at start or at the end). These videos must show people/families using your product like it’s the easiest and most wonderful thing ever created. Use popular slogans, even if they’re not your own.

Sell ASAP.

Now they’ve bought in to your pitch, you have to get them ready to hand over their wallet.

What apple do best is they create and concentrate hype and within that window they sell you that product. Hype, hype, hype – sell, sell, sell.

Once sold, people can share their love for that device, bring more hype and attract more sales.

What Nokia’s doing with their flagships is announcing them months in advance, creating lots of hype, hype, hype, but then making people wait, and wait, delay maybe, and more wait to the point where it maybe forgotten and no one cares as other devices have been announced.

In that time, that Nokia handset has aged. and released amongst newer competitors e.g. N97. Announced 6-7 months prior to launch. I had hoped for only a 30-60 day wait at best for N8. Perhaps Nokia’s hand was pushed to announce it early given the scathing report/preview on a lost Proto N8.

Fortunately, the N8 still has some pretty advanced features that won’t grow too stale by August/Sept. The timing of release however, is not haphazardly decided. Unfortunately it seems more due to the unreadiness of Symbian^3 here and Symbian^1 in N97.

___

So come on Nokia. There’s still over a couple of months left till big Nokia World 2010. We want to see some magic!

Video: 9 homescreens on the N900 – all accessible in one swipe

December 24, 2009 14 comments

Intended day to day use: have main middle homescreen, quick access to eight others in one swipe. Swipe up for X, and then back to main homescreen.

Nokia totally got me hooked on their concept of homescreens and “alwaysonlineasithappens” with the N97. I found it extremely useful but wanted more of it than the one homescreen + blank screen that the N97 has.

With the N900 we had four homscreens! At last!

I’m able to have a main desktop for things I access all the time. I hardly go into my App Menu anymore because of this.

Another two I’ve for work and another for “news” when I’ve got some time to kill.

From the main homescreen I can swipe left for work or right for news.

But what about the fourth? Well, that’s two swipes away – and whilst that’s not much, it means I use it much less than the other two.

On one of Wednesday’s post

Firmware update wishlist for the N900: 35 things that need sorting in the Nokia N900 (software wise)

#25 highlights a suggestion of a grid of menus. This is something I’ve wanted from the N97. Swiping up/down for additional homescreens.

The video below shows an idea of what the N900 would be like if it had 9 homescreens

1. This may seem overwhelming (4 might already be too much for some), but consider than with one touch/swipe you can access all your apps/widgets/bookmarks.

2. No scrolling through menus, hunting for the app your looking for. Consider than in pressing the menu button is already one motion, and you might stilll need to scroll and find that app. Here, one swipe gets you to the position of your app.

3.From any homescreens 1-9, you can reach the others within one swipe.

4. Let’s take a phone’s 1-9 keypad. From 5, you can access all the others in one swipe.

=

5. For something like 1 to get to 9 or 7 to 6, we’ll have a continuous grid connecting the 9 homescreens

6. From any other number you can reach all the others.

7. I suppose this could get confusing, however there could be an indicator made to show exactly where you are. Like a 9 grid dot and one dot changes position when you move homescreens.

8.Imagine if this was implimented as the App Menu view too?  This goes a bit extra to the folder organization that I liked in S60, whereby from within 3 clicks [menu>folder>app], I can access 144 apps. With a 4×5 icon grid, you could have access to 180 apps

9. Also if like #8 you categorized them into Multimedia/office etc it might make it easier to remember what’s where. e.g. Need to find Maps? Under navigation. Twitter app? Connect [with people] Bounce? Games.

With your apps already on the homescreen, you might never need to check out menu again.

– just an idea.

Video: Nokia Zero – Why the next flagship needs a proper name.

December 21, 2009 12 comments

This is a video for the Nokia Zero: The new Nokia phone to rule them all.

This post is meant to demonstrate the importance of having a “memorable product name”. This goes for services as well as devices. Here I’ve taken “Zero” as an example. The rest of the post after the video explains why I’m ranting on about names.

Why Zero?

  • Nokia like to use numbers. Simply put – 0.
  • The symbol for zero could even be the actual picture of the phone.
  • You can rearrange “NOKIA” to make “ZERO”
  • N can rotate into a Z (branding/icon simplicity)
  • Zero just has two syllables.
  • The symbol for zero (essentially a circle) has no beginning or an end – something quite omnipotent about that.
  • er…um…Zero degrees is cool? haha

I’m sure you’ll have some even better suggestions for names

[Note – I know there are other things Nokia needs to do. That’s why this ‘name-thing’ was just a small part of a huge rant discovered in my WP drafts folders]

What’s in a name?

For a product  – it is its identity, a metaphorical soul if you’ll entertain this notion [see point 4].

It shouldn’t just be an afterthought, “Ok we’ve finished this one, let’s call it N920-1TB-12MP or Melissa.”

Therefore it helps to have a memorable name, especially if they are high end and undoubtedly if it’s your flagship.

However, Nokia keeps making handsets with designations as friendly to remember as the periodic table.

As such, only a select few being able to decipher the handset behind the anonymous digits.

As a tech manufacturer you want everyone to know about your product. Not just your geek fans or people in the industry. When you’ve penetrated society such that the very non-tech minded has heard about your product, you’re onto a good thing. And one of the key factors to that is the right name.

Here are four points to consider:

1. Name needs to be iconic, simple to remember

The name is essential as a “storage” for that product’s reputation….

Person 1: “Oh, wow, that’s a brilliant phone, what’s it called?”

You: “This is the N920-1TB-12MP”

Person 1: “The what?!”

…as well as making it easier for purchasing…

Customer: “Hi, hello, I’d like to buy the um…I think it’s called the N9 something…Nokia N920”

Sales Team: “There’s no N920. Do you mean the N90, N91, N92, N93, N95, N96, N97, N79? 9700?…”

Customer: “Erm…*hangs up*”

…and setting it apart to compete with other manufacturers.

2. Helps if there’s an actual reasoning behind the name, e.g. a theme

This helps with advertising by being able to reinforce the identity of the product with imagery related to the name.

e.g. Droid – Android powered – Robotic/Powerful/Technological etc [vs Milestone – wtf]

Names (vs numbers) and names with meaning evoke memories and emotional responses better towards your product.

3. Syllable count matters

Although they may only be 3/4 characters long, e.g. N97, N900, 6303, consider the syllable count

N97: EN – Nine – Ty – Se-ven [5]

N900 – EN – Nine – Hun – Dred [4]

6303 – Six – ty – three – oh – three [5]

I can understand having these practical numerical designations for lower end handsets, but not mid, and quite inexcusable for the high end.

More syllables means more margin for error and confusion.

[Note also that now Nokia are going to focus on less quantity/more quality handsets, it’s now much more feasible to use names and not codes numbers!]

4. Try and keep that name across future handsets

Just an idea to possibly spur some better names for Nokia's high end/flagships

Once you’ve built a good reputation with that handset, you’re gonna want to take advantage of that for its successor.

Over time the handset’s name will be an indicator of its pedigree.

As the success of the previous model is already etched in people’s minds, having that same name makes the transtition to the successor much easier. Better for brand loyalty (as people know what they’ll be getting) and better to entice other consumers (as the each new handset in line contributes to that renowned heritage)

Keep the name, and you accumulate each new strength of the successor. The name becomes a phrase that’s part of society and every day living.

Lose the name and you lose the history.

______________

Prime example across the board is iPhone. Simple, two syllable “iGoodness”.

Because apple have kept the same moniker despite there being 3 different models across several memory/colour variants, iPhone steadily but surely solidified its reputation as a world class gadget. With each new model it simply just added onto the known success and hype whilst gradually ironing out flaws.

Video: Nokia shrinks s60 5th edition’s (N97’s) annoyingly fat sidebar? Well at least in Ovi Maps (Nokia rant/suggestions on S60 icon layout/rotation)

September 2, 2009 2 comments

Theme of Rant/Suggestion: 2 parts – Sidebar & Icons in menu

Have you been watching Nokia World 09 Online? Perhaps you’re actually there? Some big announcements of devices we’ve already heard of (Booklet 3G /N97 mini/n900), and some new ones too (X6, X3).

But something a lot more interesting for current S60 5th edition owners is that a new software update for the N97 maybe shrinking the fat sidebar that you see in menus and applications . I’ve ranted about it a few times (e.g. here and here).

However, this is all only in Ovi Maps Beta. [For Comparison: Ovi Maps 3.0] You can still see from the video that the old fat sidebar is still there.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction as to how the sidebar (for the menu/all applications/all parts of the UI) could look. Instead of something obtrusive, they could minimize it into icons or just shrink the font.

n97 side

Ovi Maps new layout - blends in better with S60 5th edition UI. Note status icons.

b1

– screenshots from the Ovi Maps Beta Video

Is this a sign of what a future firmware could bring to the S60 5th edition’s appearance? The current sidebar (especially in landscape) consumes way too much space than necessary.

Out of the 640×360 screen, in the menu, users only get an application size of 502×288 (at least according to PhoneInfo)

b3[Note: How icons appear in Landscape with S60 5th edition. So much screen is wasted!]

Either shrink it down as we’ve seen in Ovi Maps Beta or better yet, ideally like digia web browser’s controls, give the option to show/hide so that users can have full screen and possibly even have a 4×5 grid, or at least a 3×5 grid of icons (see later).

This may cause a problem with how icons rotate from landscape to portrait as they reorder themselves into a new position on the grid. Why can’t the icons just stay where they are and then rotate on that fixed point?

How icon rotation should work in S60 5th edition

Start: Portrait

b6

Rotate…

b5.5

Icons rotate about their own axis. Not being re-ordered.

b4

[note: just to demonstrate how icons should rotate on their own axis. Sidebar and status icons obviously have to be sorted out]

Much like how photos rotate in Nokia Photo Browser – all at a fixed axis – no moving around to a new location (unless more photos are introduced). This is beneficial in that you always know where an icon is located. It hasn’t been moved about after switching orientation. (Well, that’s just for me anyway,  I understand that others will like things as it is.)

Eventually they could even add a new row with the extra space. As for status icons like battery/connection/time, like in Ovi Maps Beta, it could be superimposed at the bottom (see first screenshot from Ovi Maps)

b5

[Note, just to demonstrate 3×5 grid of icons. Status icons (reception/battert etc) and sidebar need sorting out.  They could even shrink the icons a bit if it seems too cluttered.]

If you have more icons than can be displayed on a page, then can’t we just implement side-swiping? (This would be up/down swiping in portrait)