Nokia N90: Application key for small fingers – Day 1, part 2 22:02 on Sunday

On my first day with Nokia N90, I wasn’t sure which one was worse, the N90 not having a vibrating alert or the design of the Application key. (I’ll get to problems with the actual functionality of the Application key later). Now, after three months of use I still haven’t decided. Not because the problems would have disappeared, but mainly because I’ve adapted, as people do.

Nokia N90 Application key

I like the big buttons on the N90. Although too flat to be highly usable, the buttons have a solid feel to them. The problem with the Application button is that it is almost as big as the 4-way keys combined, and right under the Down key. Because both keys are almost flat there is not enough tactile feedback on where your finger is. I guess most people who are inclined to buy this beta-ish toy will have digits of such magnitude, that their thumb rests on both buttons simultaneously. Which in turn equals a lot of misplaced key presses. It is extremely disorienting to end up with a grid of folders when you’re trying to move down to the next line of text. Interaction flow is disrupted and the user has to figure out what happened and what to do to “go back”.

As mobile strategy consulting firm Fjord outlines in their list of unique properties of mobile phones:

[A mobile phone is used] on the move, in transit, and in other people’s company: my attention span is short, and simple and clear interactions are necessary.

A disruption causes either severe irritation or giving up on the task altogether, depending on the importance of the task.

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