I'm a consultant and a flash developer, with former careers in graphic design, web strategy, and music production. My goal is to create better experiences through code, design, and talking about the business value of good user experiences.
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I do agree with you that for users who use the phone mainly to make calls, multitasking and copy-paste are maybe not everyday features. But then again, as suprising as it seems many people are not that familiar with multitasking with the computer either. It’s fair to say that the S60 devices are not your average mobile phones. But rather have features resembling a “computer disguised as a handset”.
For the people who use the devices for more than just making calls and sending messages, there are several use cases when multitasking comes handy. One very good example is reading email/SMS messages or browsing and listening to music at the same time. Instead of having to navigate through the menu to find the Music player application (to change songs), you just use the multitasking feature.
As for copy & paste, you have some good suggestion about enhancing it. The EDIT key (with the “pen” icon) can be used for other things than just copy & paste.
1) Selecting multiple items. If you want to remove selected items from your inbox (or any list) press the edit & select keys simultaneously on the item(s) you want to remove.
2) Turning predictive text on/off. While writing an SMS/email/MMS you can control the predictive text feature by pressing the edit key.
Thanks for your comments. It’s always nice to see people giving good constructive comments on S60 ;-)
Many points there. I agree multitasking is probably not too common concept with computers, and without any hard data to support my claim, I actually do think multitasking as it is now might not be a good idea on computers either. For clarity, I’m talking about multitasking from the point of the user, not from the point of the engineer who builds the system.
S60 devices are indeed “computers disguised as handsets”, and that’s the thing I mostly criticize them about. The devices try to cram an over 20-year old not-so-good OS metaphor into a stamp-sized screen. The metaphor is already wearing out on computers, so why implement it on phones now?
Technically multitasking is useful for the early adopters. It’s just not good enough a concept for the rest of us. I’ve praised Nokia’s idea of physically changing the mode of the device (for example in 3250), and even if that technically is the same multitasking feature, from the user’s perspective it is different. And better.
The EDIT key is really useful for selecting multiple items. I still can’t help thinking the confusion the extra key causes is bigger than the benefit. But I guess it has been thoroughly tested.
I try hard to keep the comments constructive, altough I often fail! ;)