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The matter of interface in a mobile world

tech reviews Updated: Jun 01, 2010 15:03 IST
Shayne Rana

One of the major misconceptions today is the idea that the worth of a mobile handset is strictly based on what features the handset has to offer — does it have a 2, 3.2, 5, 8 or 12 megapixel camera; is it a touchscreen or a slider; does it have a standard, virtual or slide out QWERTY keypad; does it support DivX and Xvid video playback etc.

For a few, it’s the way the handset looks that matters the most, with the bits of ‘technical’ information thrown in by manufacturers to make the handset seem worthwhile. Of course features are important, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not everything.

First thing’s first
The operating system is an important aspect to consider, but you need to choose the one that suits you. Just because someone mentioned that a Windows Mobile OS is better than the one Nokia uses or even vice versa, shouldn’t be enough to make a decision. OS preference is actually a subjective decision. What should be taken into account, especially in this day and age, is the user interface (UI).

The UI should give you the ability to seamlessly integrate your online life with the handset. The UI drives the handset’s usage and adds to its prowess. Take the Android OS. It’s designed to be a social networking-friendly system, however without a suitable UI laid on top of it, it won’t be able to relate to the social networks of the World Wide Web.

HTC’s Sense UI is one of the more popular interfaces these days. They’ve managed to successfully incorporate it on the Android OS as well as on Windows Mobile systems with slight tweaks.

Widgets or mini applications help provide quick access to data without going to the main app, and the ones designed for new age mobile desktops and home-screens like HTC Sense use widgets that truly give the mobile user something to sing about.
Devices like the ultra budget ‘Chinese’ mobiles use a Java-based OS and although there’s really not much a manufacturer can do about it, a few have overlaid some really funky interfaces that will enhance your user experience.

All said and done
When you’re considering a handset that does have a snappy UI a few things you ought to look for are the kinds of widgets that are available to you. You should also find out how easy it is to set up these multiple desktops with widgets and if it’s possible to get more through the various online application stores available these days.

If you’re looking to buy a handset, smartphone or otherwise, the features it packs are only one aspect. Do a little research and see what kind of UI the device incorporates. Believe me it’ll make all the difference in the long run.