Nokia still has to announce officially a device running under the new MeeGo operating system, but it seems that the company is confident that it would manage to make a splash when that handset arrives on shelves.
The smartphone market is still a nascent space, even if it enjoys increased attention from media and handset users, Nokia’s Marko Ahtisaari, SVP Design and User Experience, said during the LeWeb Internet conference earlier today.
According to him, although there are various OSes out there that already offer appealing interfaces, none of them is able to offer the exact elements that users would need to not spend too much time with the mobile phone in their hand.
“The smartphone space is so hot and overcovered by the media that it gives the false impression that the market has matured,” he stated, a post on Nokia Conversations reads.
The evolution of smartphones is only beginning, he continues, adding that future handset UIs should be completely different from what we see today.
Apple's iOS, with a wide range of applications on multiple screens, or today's Symbian and Android, with customizable homescreens and widgets, do not offer the answer that the smartphone market might have been looking for.
Marko Ahtisaari suggests that the future would bring different UI patterns to devices, and that one of them would be based on notifications. Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 OS was built based on notifications, though he does not seem convinced that this platform would be that successful.
“The Windows 7 smartphone design has just been introduced and that shows that there is a demand for new patterns. It’s very interesting but it’s too early to tell how successful it will be,” Ahtisaari stated.
According to him, OS designers and phone makers would need to come to the market with devices that can provide users with the info they need “at a glance.” This is the vision Microsoft had with Windows Phone 7, as these ads show.
“If you look at people using touchscreen devices today, they’ve got their heads down. The devices are immersive and require full attention. You’ll see couples in coffee shops who’ve been together 10-15 years both sat with their heads down, operating their devices,” Ahtisaari noted.
“We need to give people their head up again. The ability to keep social interaction with the people that they’re physically with".
“That means a better ability to use the devices single-handed and them requiring less of our attention for peripheral interactions. Notifications, for example, could be much improved so they require much less from us.”
He also notes that others would try to build the user experience so that they would harness the collective intelligence of their users. One example would be map applications used for navigation.
“We can use that data to make the devices more intelligent: for example, to avoid traffic jams and create alternative routes. We can also use it to improve the maps – if we see people going in directions that don’t exist on the map, we can see there’s something to fix.”
Of course, that won't be limited only to the manner in which users interact with maps, but will involve how they take advantage of other services or applications as well.
“The research on collective intelligence says that it needs a large, independent, diverse group of people to solve problems – that’s what we’ve got. Soon phones will allow you to arrive somewhere – say the LeWeb party tonight – and it’ll know where the bar is and where to find the discotheque,” Ahtisaari concluded.