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  #1  
Old 09-07-2010, 08:08 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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A New UI is not needed for Symbian ^3, just make the existing one work

With Nokia and Symbian on the ropes in the tech media at the moment, and with User Interfaces (UIs) a particular battling point, Ewan points out that there's nothing fundamentally wrong with Symbian^3's UI and that every mobile device in the last 20 years hasn't looked appreciably different. The key, he explains is in consistency and user experience within the UI and he points out that this is where recent S60 versions have fallen down. Nokia job advert: "Wanted: Someone with obsessive attention to detail"...

Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 09-07-2010, 08:22 AM
Dubito Dubito is offline
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That is probably the single most sensible article ever written about mobile device interfaces.

The "single/double tap" problem is so baffling that when I heard about S^3 being "single tap everywhere" I had no idea how that was different from the status quo - until I got a chance to play with an N97 mini and discovered the double-tap rubbish, and couldn't believe anybody had ever coded it, and that anybody else had ever signed off on it.

I think the debate we still have to have is about home screens - I love the information richness and utility of the traditional S60 screen, and see Android as being a dumbed-down version, and 5th Edition as being a differently dumbed down version. I may be wrong, but iPhone doesn't seem to have a "home screen" at all.

I've seen people complain about the way 5th Edition "lets you clutter up your home screen with widgets, but at least the menu is still available", which is a WTF moment if ever I read one.

Having said that: Android is prettier than S^3. Until you add enough widgets and shortcuts to be useful.

  #3  
Old 09-07-2010, 08:49 AM
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I've recently got Android after some years on Symbian and 6 months on iPhone.

The Android is a let down, no great advance on S60 5th edition even.

As for double-tap on S60, how stupid does a person need to be to have a problem with this? Any intelligent human adapts within seconds. I never even noticed it until people mentioned it.

And as for Symbian^3, I'll start listening to peoples opinions when they've actually used the finished release. Until then, everything with a pinch of salt.

  #4  
Old 09-07-2010, 09:07 AM
Dazzy Dazzy is offline
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I have to agree with this article.

I was testing Android 2.1 and Sense UI out last week for a few days on a friends HTC Legion and to be honest they way I have my Vivaz set up there isn’t much difference.

If you're a Google addict then maybe it's better at syncing with Google calendars than Symbian, or is it? Having listening to the last PSC, and heard the mention of GoogaSync I looked it out. Guess what it syncs calendars (and multiple calendars Tim) just fine. My only gripe is it doesn't do tasks. But the truth is I am 29 years old, my brain works fine and I have very little need to put everything down on a calendar, as I simply remember what I have to do! So will I buy this app? Probably to support the developer but I doubt I will use Calendars much.

Yes I use Gmail and all my email accounts go through it, but for the amount I actually email on the phone setting it up in the default Symbian mail application works just fine, and then keep an active data connection. alas Push Email. I might try Profimail some day but as of now I am happy with this element, as I do agree with a comment made (Ewan I think) that where possible its better to use the default tools rather than adding another layer.

SPB Mobile Shell for the UI, have been using this since the early betas on my Vivaz and it truly does make Symbian devices UI very easy to use, some exciting things coming in the future for this as well.

MS gives me a very nice interface to look at whatever agenda items I do have and once they add the 3D message/Mail viewers I will have little need to use the default UI when viewing a message.

I use my phone to store long customer numbers, passwords etc and this is taking care of very well by SPB Wallet. (getting harder to remember numbers lol)

I use Gravity as my Twitter client, Google News reader etc. Some improvements can be made here, such as the Facebook client and maybe media in the Google reader, but will have to see what Janole comes up with.

Just recently put Sports Tracker on and it works fine, no need know to carry the ipod touch when I am out running as the phone will do it all, one less thing to carry so all is good Walk to work every morning and never realised it was 2.35 miles till I traced it yesterday in ST lol.

Use Google maps if I am away and need to find somewhere, and it works fine, just think OVI Maps would be better here, but does the job.

My only real gripe about my Vivaz at the moment is the bugs in the firmware that SE doesn’t seem to want to know about. I will bide my time before deciding on which Nokia device to buy next now and leave any decision till 2011.

I am about to switch the new One Plan from 3UK so that will solve my Voicemail problems due to SE disabling the call recorder apis in Symbian and such apps then don’t work.

I use various other apps on the phone but one thing I am on the lookout for is a good way to hide messages and emails, whether pass word protected or what, any suggestions?

  #5  
Old 09-07-2010, 09:40 AM
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yeah

i guess people are tired of looking at the old icons. if they changed the icons maybe people would say, " this is different." Transition effects on s60 5th edition is somewhat sloppy compared to iphone or android. they made the device sluggish and somewhat inconsistent. people would want it different not just on hardware but also in interface. the icons are reminiscent of the s^1, which i think for some who would want to move on should be changed. they want to forgive and forget but when they are presented with something that is nostalgic of the past, some maybe forced to go sideways.

Cheers for N8!!!

  #6  
Old 09-07-2010, 09:52 AM
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Visual

I agree with the above. It seems like people has have become visual oriented when it comes to UI. These fancy icons and transitions are unfortunately at this time the most important thing to the common consumer. We may blame apple for it but it really goes way back. Now, more than ever gadgets have become a fashion item. (much like those toy dogs) And it needs to look good and dare I say it "cute". But that is not the case though with us reading these tech blogs, we mostly want high specs and functionality. But honestly, I wouldn't mind if it looks good . I remember buying those Nokia phones in the late 90's because the had interchangeable colored faceplates ;p

  #7  
Old 09-07-2010, 09:58 AM
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S60 has had the option of changing the menu view eversince the N95 but the sad part is we never received any menu view plugins. Nokia did experiment initially with horse shoe menu etc but then forgot about it, the option itself is still there even on S60v5. They should've pushed out multiple menu types atleast that would've given some options for people to try.
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  #8  
Old 09-07-2010, 10:11 AM
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i don't think a total overhaul of symbian's UI is essential, how the UI "FUNCTIONS" works for me just fine. But what i hate is how the UI "LOOKS" it needs to be fine tuned to make it look every bit desirable...

case in example... the font-icon ratio/size (if there's such thing) on most symbian devices are HUGE and wastes a lot of space all over. Try to compare the size of the icon and the size of the text (app name) on the main menu of symbian VS iphoneOS/iOS4 (or whatever they're calling it now). the text and icons in symbian are wasting a lot of real screen real estate whereas the latter had every bit of screen display the aligned and occupied neatly...

another area where i hate symbian's huge font is the music player... instead of offering us as much info possible. Like, i have entitled "You Give Me Something" and all that gets displayed on the screen is something like "You Give Me Som..".

little things like font tweaks, nice looking icons, animated backgrounds AND wallpaper, smooth transition effects, etc. will give symbian that much need breath of fresh air...

  #9  
Old 09-07-2010, 10:14 AM
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heck! i even think that S40's UI and how it works is much better and much improved over the couple of years than on S60/Symbian...

  #10  
Old 09-07-2010, 10:29 AM
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SIMPLE FACT OF THE MATTER: Symbian^3's UI is now EASILY as good as the latest iPhones and Androids. No question. Someone may prefer one over the other of course, but that's purely personal taste. No longer can anyone say Symbian's UI is crap or uncompetitive.

Now, given that, you then have to compare on OS quality and engineering - Symbian wins by a mile being far more mature, efficient and well engineered and designed than Android or iPhone.

And you have to compare on hardware. Well, looking at the N8 it's not really worth making a comparison - the hardware and featureset of the N8 is so far in advance of anything else out there (if you're comparing processor speeds you don't understand how to compare, and as for screen res, yes N8 has lower than some but touchscreens are all the same physical size more or less, so how are you going to see those tiny invisible pixels on iPhone 4 anyway? Text is so small you have to zoom in too, so N8's lower res makes no practical difference).

Finally, you have to compare on apps. Yep, iPhone and Android do have better choice (I don't think better quality) but this is changing, and will continue to change, rapidly.

After seriously investigating the latest iPhone 4, Androids and the N8, the N8 will be my next phone. For me it wins by a long way.

  #11  
Old 09-07-2010, 10:32 AM
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Seems that it is not enough to be fully customisable and theme-able as S60 is.

Font size is controllable in themes. As are icon designs.

  #12  
Old 09-07-2010, 10:46 AM
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I agree that the whole UI VIEW is not revolutionized during these years.
yes, the iconic grid layout of main menu/homescreen has not changed.

iOS/Android/Meego shine in other part of the UI ecosystem.
The whole subsystems should be considered when a UI is technically discussesd. to name a few:
User interaction with commands (S60 old Option menu style or iOS on screen widgets?, ...)
notifications to the users
shortcuts
displaying data which can to be fitted to the screen (scroll bars, combobox, listbox, ... ex compare old style WinCE/WinMo scrollbars with kinetic scrolling)
...

One the most important parts of a UI system (which is completely hidden from endusers) is the code behind it. The biggest evil hidden inside S60 is Avkon. This old, sluggish, complicated GUI subsystem is a complete mess.
Symbian.org and Nokia finally accept their weakness (but it was too late) and decide to replace it with Qt (S^4)
The problem with S^3 is not the VIEW section (as you mostly point in your article), merging Qt into symbian underlying system is not that easy. it takes time.
The 3rd party application developers need to migrate to Qt framework and rewrite their applications, and this process is not fast either.

Another problem of S^3 is it is not a neat OS, it's just a bridge between S60v5 and S^4. combining Avkon and Qt means two ecosystems on the same platform which ends in more RAM/resource requirements and cluttered experience. This only suit to developers who want to adopt from Avkon to Qt.

Nokia should respond much quicker. market-wise, S^3 is already about a full year behind the competition right now, S^3 has never shown any thing special and endusers have not any specific reason to choose the S^3. The only reason to pick a S^3 phone is a decent hardware like N8 (not the OS itself).
I hope nokia move to S^4 asap and abandon S^3 as they did with S^2.

  #13  
Old 09-07-2010, 11:18 AM
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"SIMPLE FACT OF THE MATTER: Symbian^3's UI is now EASILY as good as the latest iPhones and Androids. No question."

You're kidding, right? Try asking your mum or dad (Or hell, wife if you have one) to place a call on Symbian^3 (Whatever the hell that arrow is meant to mean anyway?) and then ask them to do the same thing on the iPhone and see which one is easier/more pleasing for them :-)


"Now, given that, you then have to compare on OS quality and engineering - Symbian wins by a mile being far more mature, efficient and well engineered and designed than Android or iPhone."


Efficient? and you know Symbian is more efficient how? all those hours you've used it? Wow what blatant fanboyism :-/

"And you have to compare on hardware."

Yes, lets.

"Well, looking at the N8 it's not really worth making a comparison"

You're kidding again, right? iPhone 4 with it's retina display, 32gb internal memory, A4 processor, 512mb RAM and Camera Optics are easily on par or better than Nokias N8, all Nokia are doing are KEEPING UP, not surpassing ;-)

"the hardware and featureset of the N8 is so far in advance of anything else out there (if you're comparing processor speeds you don't understand how to compare, and as for screen res, yes N8 has lower than some but touchscreens are all the same physical size more or less, so how are you going to see those tiny invisible pixels on iPhone 4 anyway? Text is so small you have to zoom in too, so N8's lower res makes no practical difference)."

You say if people compare Proc speeds they don't know how to compare then go on to say screen resolution means nothing?? Take some of your own advice my friend. I can honestly say right now confidently that you have never, ever laid your eyes on the new iPhone 4's Retina display. all those 320PPI are absolutely JAW DROPPING and it makes SO MUCH difference even on the tiny display it's unreal :-/ Try it, THEN comment about it, until then, quit spouting rubbish as if it's fact.

"Finally, you have to compare on apps. Yep, iPhone and Android do have better choice (I don't think better quality) but this is changing, and will continue to change, rapidly."

Clearly.........CLEARLY you haven't owned or tried an iPhone (Again, can't speak for android as i've never tried it)

the apps are CLEARLY better. There is literally (To use the phrase) an app for everything. And don't even get me started on games, does ANY Symbian phone have a FULLY 3D MMO for thier phone? The APPS are 100 times better than anything Symbian has to offer.

"After seriously investigating the latest iPhone 4, Androids and the N8, the N8 will be my next phone. For me it wins by a long way."

I highly doubt you've "Seriously investigated" any other phone other than the N8, which is fine, just don't spout rubbish as if it's the truth :-)

  #14  
Old 09-07-2010, 12:14 PM
Jejoma Jejoma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iFanboy View Post
. . . the apps are CLEARLY better. There is literally (To use the phrase) an app for everything. And don't even get me started on games, does ANY Symbian phone have a FULLY 3D MMO for thier phone? The APPS are 100 times better than anything Symbian has to offer.
What a rant

But seriously, Symbian is catching up with the iPhone on the app / interphase front. I've just downloaded Rotary Dialer to my i8910 from OviStore. The ultimate dialling interphase - it should be standard on all mobile phones. I'm sure the iPhone had it first but as I said, Symbian's catching up fast.

  #15  
Old 09-07-2010, 11:27 AM
Mr Mark Mr Mark is offline
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Great article. Hits the nail squarely on the head - the problem isn't with the core UI, it's with the way it's been implemented. Consistency and ease of use are king and that only seems to be dawning on Nokia now.
 

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