Nokia N90: Customization – Day 2, part 2 01:44 on Saturday

You’ve got many ways of customizing the N90 (and more coming). Even the manual dives right into personalization on the first page. Naturally so, as you probably need to get that personal background photo set up before you even know how to shoot one. By my accounts everybody is creative, but most people are not designers. They will end up with ugly product. Which is of course fine as long as they like it and Nokia favors people strolling around with ugly Nokias. I think there is a better way as personalization can be done in ways that guide the user and achieve aesthetically pleasing results no matter what personal content the user puts in.

Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of cluttering the phone UI with options for moving icons around, creating all kinds of different shortcut menus, changing themes, background images or sounds the phone makes. To emphasis my point, I repeat: I’m not a big fan of cluttering the phone UI. I do want to change my ringtone, I do want to add photos to my contacts, and I would like to use my own background image if the standby mode wouldn’t look horrid with any user set image. But having the choice between usability or featuritis, I choose usability.

But what about useful customization? Below are some ideas:

  • Ordering names in the phonebook so that when you write “t” you would get your best friend Tom first, not your stupid boss Tim. (You could actually do this on the older Nokia phones with a simple hack.) This would create up to 26 shortcuts for quickly finding your favorite contacts.
  • Accessibility being the word of the day, how about changing text size for low-sight users. The user interface layout could change to accommodate the constraints set by the font size. The layout could look very different depending on the text size.

Or going further, automatic customization? Let’s call it “transparent” customization to make it fancier.

  • The phone could learn the preferred numbers and email addresses I use for contacts, instead of me having to select them manually. There are working examples of such learning functionality, such as the OS X application LaunchBar.
  • The Active Idle (aka standby mode) could change the color scheme of the UI based on current profile. While the regular standby mode would be a light blue, Offline mode could be set in a dark scheme. The Meeting profile (which could be considered “Busy”) could have a red background.

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