S60 Touch: flip-to-silence

02 November 2007

So, the latest version of Nokia/Symbian Series 60 has been previewed. There’s even a swanky video for it:

I’m still thinking about a lot of it. It’s clearly aiming at a slightly different market to the one Apple’s gunning for. There’s an interesting separation between “stuff that needs a stylus” and “stuff you can do with fingers/thumbs”. In reality, I think people veer towards thumbs if possible. Does that mean they’ll ignore the UI elements that are so small they need a stylus? Not sure. I haven’t given that enough thought, as I said.

The best bit of the video, though, is nothing to do with touch. It’s the bit where the model silences the phone ringing on the coffee table simply by physically flipping the phone over.

As an interaction, that presumes a lot. It presumes you leave your phone out, and if you do, you leave it face up. Many people leave their phones out (so they can see them skitter across the table when a call/SMS comes in) but face down, so the screen doesn’t annoy them. (Blackberries, with their persistent flashing light, are a prime candidate for face-downing). At the same time, it embraces that behaviour: when the screen lights up, you hide the screen and the phone silences. I like that.

Of course, you could do that on any old phone with a cheap accelerometer inside it. I wish it wasn’t part of some “premium” touch interface, but part of a lowest-common-denominator combination of hardware and software. Oh well.

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