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Nokia Lumia800: first contact (Part I) April 15, 2012

Posted by etschneider in Windows Phone.
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Disclaimer: participating to the TryAndLikeIt operation organized by Microsoft and Nokia in France, I got the opportunity to try for twenty days, the Nokia Lumia 800. This post is not at all related to the operation, which is over for me, but I wanted to share a little bit the experience I got with that smartphone.

 

Well, in fact it is more about “User Experience” but like I say to students: any modern “device” has its own system (a car, a watch, a phone, etc.) and often the user has no clue about what the operating system managing the device is.

A popquiz, especially if you have a digital watch with a lot of features: what operating system is it using? Most of us will not know.

As for the smartphones, we have different families of operating systems. I am not really sure that the user will know, which one he/she is using: it is possible that your 60 year-old neighbour will tell you that she is using [insert any brand of phone here] rather than to tell you she is using WindiOdroid system.

I will not make a list of every mobile telephone operating system here, but let’s just summarize that today, in 2012, the consumer operating systems for smartphones are:

  • Apple’s iOS, that you can find on the iPod, iPhone and other iPad,
  • Google’s android (on various telephones and under various brands),
  • Microsoft’s Windows Phone (on various telephones and under various brands),
  • Nokia’s Symbian (well, it’s more Accenture now, according to Wikipedia),
  • others (LG and Samsung are known to have some OSes).

But because of marketing and right opportunities, “everyone” knows the iPhone and its iOS operating system.

In fact, to my opinion (not as a computer scientist, but as a user), iOS, android, and Symbian share all the same kind of user interface, which seems to be inherited from Windows and other Apple’s Finder: click on the software/application to launch it. On the other hand we don’t have many possibilities either: we still need to select the software one way or the other, but I was more thinking about the general layout, which could be summarized like in the figure 20120412_01.

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Figure 20120412_01: mockup of PDA/Phone layout mid 90s to now

As one can see you have a top bar with often the energy left in the battery and the current time and other information. I got that under Pocket PC 2002 (well, if I am not wrong it was named based on Windows CE 3, before CE became more generic), then on the following versions of Windows Mobile until 6.1, the last one I used before “being obliged” to switch to an iPhone.

Right below, you have the icons or shortcuts to the applications themselves. I don’t want to do any archeology here, but it’s very close from what you had on desktop computers in the mid-80s like the Macintosh, the Amiga and the Atari ST and a little bit later on, like on Windows, OSX and so on. Nothing new and it’s the principle of today’s operating system for computers. That’s maybe why you got a similar look on a lot of PDAs and other first “smartphone” like Palm (the icon interface was from Geoworks, which produced in the late 80s the fantastic GEOS system for the Commodore C=64) and so on.

So, on Windows Phone the things are (slightly) different: you have icons, or dynamic icons, and you have the well known Windows’s Start Menu. The “main” icons are here named Tiles. More or less on one “screen” you have two tiles for each row, the number of row seems to not be fixed (i.e. one may expect more than ten rows). And you can go through the tiles by sliding up or down. Here is an example of the tiles I got on the Lumia:

image

Figure 20120412_02: tiles of the Windows Phone – Mango

On the right hand side, there is an arrow, which allows the user to reach the “Start menu”. This “Start menu” is an application launcher, here is an example:

image

Figure 20120412_03: “Start menu” of the Windows Phone – Mango

As you can see, the applications are alphabetically sorted and there is only one column, meaning you have to slide up or down to reach the application you want… Or one can simply “touch” a letter to bring an overlay displaying the alphabet, with numbers and symbols. One has to note that the letters only appear once twenty applications are installed.

But back to the tiles: as I wrote earlier, they are dynamic, that means that if they are programmed following Microsoft guides for Metro applications, they may display information: like how many new e-mails you got on your GMail account, how many on your academic account, and also the latest updates of your friend on the social networks (are supported internally: Twitter, Facebook, and possibly LinkedIn), and so on as you can see here:

image

Figure 20120412_04: “Start menu” of the Windows Phone – Mango

In Figure 20120412_04 we have, if I remember properly, four dynamic tiles, from top-left to bottom-right:

  • the tile being automatically flipped is the “Me” tile, and highlights for example your last tweet, or the mention concerning your,
  • the next tile is the “contact” tile: it changes dynamically, for example with a slideshow of the pictures of your contact,
  • the “Mehdoh” tile, as far as I know is not dynamic Smile,
  • then the WeatherBug tile is giving the latest weather information about the set town,
  • the “World Clock” unfortunately is not dynamic either,
  • the last tile is the “RunKeeper” tile, which displays how much one have run for the current week.

Below these tiles, you have a browser bookmark, with a snapshot of the internet page.

That’s all for the first contact with the Windows Phone OS.

Here are some links of interest:

I encourage you to have a look on the links, even Wikipedia, they constitute a good start to see the progress done over the years.

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