During the past two weeks, I heavily played with my new i-mate SP5 Windows Mobile Smartphone and one question came into my mind almost every day: how many contact buttons does a regular mobile phone user needs?As a matter of fact, the standard Windows Mobile 5.0 platform offers three ways to open the contacts: two from the Home screen and one from the programs menu.
However, HTC just added a third way to open the contacts from, let's say, everywhere and I came to the conclusion that two of the options are too much.
From the Home screen you can open your contacts database with:
- The right softbutton called "Contacts"
- The left hardware button which has the HTC typical Contacts symbol (which was already used at the first Compaq Pocket PC)
- The "smart-dial" option where you can use predictive text-input, right from the Home screen
Not on the picture above the "Contacts"-program icon.
So how many ways to open Contacts does we need? In my opinion neither four nor three from the Today screen but "smart-dial" and "Contacts" icon in the programs menu only. The softbutton could be used for something more useful like "New SMS" (in best case it would be customizable, an option T-Mobile's first SDA Smartphone had but this option was removed with later Smartphones) and also the hardware button could be used for something more useful (I have reassigned it to the Internet Explorer Mobile).
I don't know how you search for contacts but I rarely open it via the Contacts program-shortcut but mostly use smart-dial which is one of the best Windows Mobile Smartphone features (and as good it is, as often it is forgotten to mention it). I never use the softbutton (why, I can search for my contact via smart-dial already) nor I need a hardware button (which made sense for Pocket PCs but nor for Smartphones).
So here are my recommendations for:
- Microsoft: Kill the softbutton and add a kind of "assign to" wizard as we have it at Pocket PCs too
- ODMs: Don't waste space with a Contacts hardware button better use a generic symbol and allow users to assign own functionalities to it (best via Microsoft's new assign to wizard).
What do you think and how do you search for your contacts?
Cheers ~ Arne