General Musing

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Phone Apps could use Interaction Designers #crackberry #rant

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I’ve had my new CrackBerry with BES for 2 weeks now, and installed the FourSquare, Gowalla, GMail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Seesmic applications on the first day. After 2 weeks of using them all I can say is these phone app builders need to talk to interaction designers.

I think it had been said by somebody else some time ago that there should be consistency between the actions that are performed between the applications, scroll down should always be one button and scroll up a different on. I didn’t expect that these consistency issues would have been solved, but it would have been nice. What I find most problematic is that most don’t have any form of statefulness in their application.

Let’s start with the one that bothered me most LinkedIn: when I receive an invitation – which I get almost daily I like to send a message to the person who invited me. Just as on their site trying to send a note after the invitation has been accepted is bothersome, so I do this before I accept the invitation. After I send the note I get back to the invitation and my focus is no longer on the text of the invitation so I can call up the menu and accept it, it’s on a button which links to the profile. What would be the reason for changing the focus from the default?

The Twitter application also bothers me, I am constantly told that it can’t reach the Twitter service in some way or another. However rather than remembering what my request was it is ignored. This means that retweets, favourites and requests to see the rest of the conversation require me to perform the action over and over again, sometimes 3 or 4 times just to mark a tweet as a favourite. I mentioned in a previous article that applications with a user face should fail gracefully.

With the GMail application I am unable to copy and paste text in the view field, and when I reply I am also not able to view the text I am replying to. Also with the ubiquitous nature of html mail there is some expectation on my part that links that appear in the text should be rendered as links, not as text. Naturally having used GMail in a BIS environment I had gotten all my mails in the BlackBerry mail client and had no great issue with this. LinkedIn and Facebook are able to use the BlackBerry mail client, why is it not possible for Google to do this? Another thing, why is GMail the only application to not check whether there is a different browser than the default installed.

Gowalla is another of my pet peeves, from the ALT-ESC scroll menu I can’t select Gowalla. I mean I can select it, I get a blank screen. This means that even though Gowalla is running constantly I need to go to the application menu and select Gowalla to be able to use it. At that point in time it looks like it starts up from scratch. And I have the believe that there is a memory leak in the application.

And Seesmic isn’t much better, constantly losing the authentication settings for all the other services with the exception of my main account. There is also no easy way to page between accounts, except by going to the context menu selecting accounts and selecting which account. Wouldn’t a shortcut be easier, even putting the names of the accounts in the context menu would be easy enough.

Foursquare is also fun I can not change my default settings for posting to Twitter or Facebook from the application, I am forced to go to the website and change my settings there. Why would I need to go to the site to change in application settings? What’s the use?

The Facebook application is one of the most user friendly, for me. There are just some small issue: I don’t get all of my interactions and I can’t like anything below a top level post. Facebook being the company of Liking stuff is not allowing me to Like stuff in their own application. And it also doesn’t look like they updated it since they first created it.

They are all great applications, and they just need an interaction designer to fix them.

*** END RANT ***

Image source: arrayexception

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm

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