The iPhone went on sale today. In the shadow of that exercise in suspense, I have one comment and a few suggestions to phone manufacturers in general.
The lowly button: iPhone’s downfall
First my iPhone comment. The thing looks great, has great features, and I want one, but there’s a deal breaker. It has no physical buttons. You can’t use the thing without using both hands and looking at it. I don’t like to use the phone too much while driving, but occasionally I do, and when I do, I use one hand and make my call without looking at the phone. All Steve Jobs needs to add to the iPhone are three or four hardware buttons across the bottom to use for answering/hanging up and to do some speed dialing. That would make it easy enough to do the most common things without looking at the phone. Even if you don’t dial and drive, you might save yourself from walking into a telephone pole on the sidewalk if the thing had a couple of physical buttons. The buttons can be buffed stainless steel with a little indentation and look really nice with the phone, and make it a lot more useful in the process.
Three embarrassingly obvious cellphone features missing from today’s phones
On to my suggestions for cellphone makers. I might be wrong, but to me these are no-brainers. But then again maybe that’s why I’m not in the cellphone design business.
3 Make your own voice come out of the cellphone’s earpiece when you are talking to help you moderate your voice and not shout in public places. Old fashioned landline POTS phones do it, why can’t cellphones too?
2 Make use of voice to text and text to voice technology. Allow the user to create a text message by speaking it into the phone. Allow people to listen to their text messages in a computer-generated voice, spelling out unknown or invented acronyms. Let someone read their voicemail as text messages in a noise-sensitive environment. If they still can’t pack enough processing power or memory in a phone, let the hard work be done on a server and downloaded to the phone.
1 Make a button on the phone to answer a call and put it on hold at the same time. It would work like this: You’re in a meeting and your phone vibrates, you optionally look at the caller ID and decide to answer the call. You press a button on the outside of the phone and drop it in your pocket. You then casually get up and walk out of the room. No one heard anything or saw you running from the room with a phone pressed against your ear. When you pressed the button on the phone, the call was answered and a generic message was played to the caller: “Your call has been answered, please wait a few moments for the receiving party to initiate the conversation”, or alternately you could pre-record your own “Can you hold?” greeting. As soon as you safely duck into the hallway, you can open your phone.
Since this is a Spanish learning blog, your homework is to translate this post into Spanish. Extra credit for correctly translating ‘deal-breaker’ and ‘no-brainer’.