How do you find stuff on your phone?

Mobile device navigation

Reader Poll With our phones being used to store and access more and more things, finding the stuff we want quickly can become a challenge. And we're not just talking about expensive high end devices such as iPhones here. It is almost impossible now to buy a device that doesn't have some kind of internet access and media capability. Contacts, calendar entries, games, music, video, applications, bookmarks to online services, etc can therefore accumulate pretty rapidly, even on phones that many would consider to be 'basic' or 'entry-level'.

With this in mind, it is interesting to consider whether the traditional hierarchical menu driven approach, arguably perfected by Nokia back in the 90s, should remain the pivot for device navigation. Even if it is front-ended by a screen full of sexy looking icons, there is still a need for mechanisms that allow you to get straight to the information, content or function you want with the minimum of fuss from a standing start, without having to worry about the route you take.

But what’s the state of play today? And what are your thoughts on how access mechanisms should work in the future to avoid overload and your device becoming a black hole?

Tell us what you think in our latest reader poll below.

READER POLL

What type of device do you use?

If you have more than one device, think of the one that you use for the widest range of activity.

BlackBerry
iPhone
Windows Mobile
Symbian Smartphone
Other (please specify)

How would you describe the screen?

Large (PDA Size)
Medium (good size for a normal phone)
Small (basic mobile phone size)

If you have any of the following, how do you rate them?

  Don't have Really Like Adequate for the job Dislike
Normal phone keypad (12 physical keys)
Physical QWERTY keyboard
Touch screen capability (with finger or stylus)
Soft phone keypad (12 key layout on touch screen)
Soft QWERTY keyboard (touch screen)
Voice commands to locate contacts or functions

How much do you use your device for the following?

  A lot A little Not at all Don't have this facility
Storing and accessing contacts
Storing and accessing calendar entries
Storing and accessing photos or video
Listening to music
Playing games
Running other applications
Accessing online services

How well does your device handle this from a navigation perspective?

Very well, I can usually get to what I want quickly and easily
OK, but significant room for improvement
Generally pretty poorly

What are the key things you like or dislike about the way navigation/access is handled?

Like
Disike

Thinking in general, how important would you regard the following navigation/access capabilities to getting the most out of smarter devices?

  Critical
5
 
4
 
3
 
2
No use
1
Traditional hierarchical navigation mechanisms
User defined shortcuts
'Search as you type', to locate contacts quickly from the home screen of your device
e.g. hitting 'b' displays 'Bill, Brian, Boris, Brenda' then hitting 'r' narrows it to 'Brian, Brenda', etc
'Search as you type', to quickly locate anything from the home screen, e.g. contacts, calendar entries, music, other media, online services, etc
Predictive text
Voice activated dialling
Voice activated access to functions and content
Voice recognition for composing emails/SMSs
Text to speech, e.g. having email/SMS read to you

Picking up on the use of speech as an interface, do you actually have voice activated dialling or command capability on your phone at the moment?

Yes, and I use it a lot
Yes, and I use it occasionally
Yes, but don't use it
No
Don't know

What have we missed? What else would really make a difference from a navigation/access perspective?

Considered overall, does (or would) better navigation encourage more use of the following?

Content and functionality resident in your device
Content and functionality from the network (e.g. internet services)
Both of the above
Neither of the above
Unsure

How old are you?

Under 18
18 – 35
Over 35

Are you?

Male
Female

Which of the following best describes your role?

Business manager/executive
Business practitioner
IT manager/executive
IT practitioner
Student
Retired
Other (please specify)

Any final thoughts on the evolution of mobile devices in general? What would be the main attributes of your perfect device, for example?

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