Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Speed Of Access Is the Key for Smartphone Apps

Today's smartphones are amazing in many ways, but in other ways, they aren't as useable as a turn-of-the-century Palm III. I've already written about the glaring lack of a PageDown key--a real miss, since they already have the hardware space, in the form of a pretty useless, or at least grossly under-used, trackball. Or better yet, maybe the volume rocker could do double-duty in reading apps.

What the Palm excelled at was speed-of-access. Just a couple of taps, and you could jot a quick note and attach a timer to it. That was one of my favorite uses for the Palm.

In contrast, have probably spent over 1 hour just downloading and evaluating alarm and timer apps for Android, and I still haven't found one that is very good.

Take Alarms, for instance. It is a fairly nice-looking paid app, but it just misses in terms of ease of access. Problems:
  1. 3 clicks to access an Alarm-creation screen. Should be 1-click from a home screen icon.
  2. This is really stupid--the datetime defaults to (I believe) the day I installed the app, rather than the current date.
  3. Setting Date and Time are different pop-up screens, thus requiring double the clicks.
  4. This is no surprise, since it is a common flaw in almost all Android apps, but the only way to set values are tedious up/down keys--no ability to key in the numbers of select from a list.
  5. Another stroke to scroll down, past infrequently-used options, so that you can access the SET button, to finalize your alarm.

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