I’ve really enjoyed all the insightful responses to Scott’s “what features would you spend your $100 on?” entry. Thank you for your passion around our product. One feature request that kept coming up was “better one hand navigation.” I’d like to have some discussion on this subject and better understand what you’re asking for there. I’m going to make some assumptions, give some information, and then ask for clarification on what you’re looking for.
My first assumption is that when you say “I want one hand navigation” what you’re really saying is, “I don’t want to have to tap the screen.” If you mean something else, let me know.
My second assumption is that this feature request only applies to devices with a touch screen. We call these devices “PocketPCs,” although there are some devices marketed as “Smartphones” that have touch screens and are, in actuality, PocketPCs. Obviously if the device doesn’t have a touch screen, there won’t be any software that requires you to touch it.
Because of the second assumption, assume for the rest of this entry that I’m only talking about touch screen PocketPCs.
While we did some work on one hand navigation for WM2003SE, we didn’t really consider PocketPCs to be one hand navigatible until WM5. And, for one hand navigation to work, we tell OEMs that they should have the following hardware buttons: a DPAD (up, down, left, right, enter), two softkeys, a Start button, and an Ok button. (All phone devices also have a SEND and an END key.) We largely expect devices to lay these buttons out near each other, the way the 6700 and the Treo do. On some devices, especially the MDA, the Start and OK buttons were moved to the top and changed into quick launch keys. On my MDA, I work around this by assigning those buttons to Start and Ok in the Buttons control panel. I assume most people find that device hard to one hand navigate.
In our attempt to make PocketPC one hand navigatible, we missed a few spots. The biggest of these, in my opinion, is that you can’t change folders in inbox without tapping the dropdown on the upper left corner of the screen. There are some things in the control panels as well, but I don’t hit them very regularly. My first question for you folks is that, when you say you want one hand navigation to work, are you talking about these things or something else? In other words is it, “One hand navigation mostly works, but there are these rough edges,” or is it something much deeper?
The feedback suggests that it’s something deeper, so I’m going to ask more questions about it. The specific feedback seemed to fall into two categories:
Navigating between apps:
I saw people saying that they felt that they needed to use the stylus to move from app to app. I’d like to hear more about this. For launching apps, what requires the stylus? Alternately, what works so much better with the stylus than the buttons that you’re willing to pull it out? Note, however, that I’m assuming you have a “Start” and an “Ok” button. If your hardware doesn’t have those, then I fully understand why you can’t navigate apps without touching the screen.
Dialing the phone:
The feedback was very clear on this one. People want to dial the phone without touching the screen. My question here is, how would you like to see us implement this? In my opinion, the only way to dial without touching the screen is to have the 12 hardware phone buttons (1-9, *, 0, #). Are you folks saying, “Require that every PocketPC have hardware dialer buttons,” or do you have ideas for ways to dial from the DPAD? The only thing that comes to my mind is to put a little focus box around the number, and then have the DPAD move that focus box. For instance, start it on 1. Right goes to 2. From there, down goes to 5. Etc. Is that what you’re looking for? It feels to me like that would require you to look at the screen almost as much as touching it does.
Thanks for all your feedback.