The New Generation of Touch UIs
The iPhone created a new playing field for all. Touch interface, easy app installs, app store, UI and apps that ´just work´and lastly, a nice form factor.
All the major players were floored and were left to scramble to come up with something of significance.
The first ones out were the Korean manufacturers… with Samsung and LG leading the attack with phones like the Prada phone and the Armani phone. However, the smartphone powerhouses were lagging in coming up with a viable competitor.
As of the last quarter, all the first gen competitive devices have been launched.
The Nokia 5800
The Blackberry Storm
The Google Phone
You could argue that Sony Ericsson´s G900/G700 phones are sort of touch, but they really are more of hybrids instead of a full fledged touch platform a la iPhone. And of course you have the WinMo devices like the Touch. However these are omitted because they were touch way before the iPhone, but in a different way, similar to how the Sony Ericsson´s are hybrids, but not quite´Touch´in the way an iPhone is. Stylus based touch platforms have been around for a while, but aren´t quite the ´Touch´that the iPhone innovated.
Anyway, back to the three that I mentioned above. I´ve now had a chance to try the three out. Not extensively, but just to get a feel for the ´experience´.
First of all, the one that I think was best representative of a well thought out ´new´experience was the Blackberry Storm. It looked and felt like a touch device, in spite of the lag in the interface and some quirks around their touch feedback technology (I didn´t care for it too much). The phone looks sexy, and the UI looks like it was modified for a fully touch-based experience. Icon size, movement, Landscape vs. Portrait mode, etc. The loudspeaker was pretty loud too.
The Google Phone was a close second in the sense that it was designed well and the touch elements integrate well with the deployable keyboard, but the phone itself feels cheap and doesn´t exude the class of the Blackberry. The app store seemed to work well as well, from the one app I downloaded. I think the Google Platform is the one that I´m most excited to keep on playing with because I think they´ve thought out some things that Apple has not. I don´t want to elaborate too much on this post, as I may be doing a full review of the device in the near future, but suffice it to say that there is substantial integration of ´search´as you´d expect.
The Nokia was perhaps the most disappointing for me because it just felt like a touch enabled Symbian device. In other words, things didn´t feel optimized for the new way of interacting with the OS. Slowness, quirks in the interface from the expectations of a keyboard, and some hiccups when asking the phone to do things.
I´m expecting that as with the first gen iPhone, by the time the second gen of these phones comes out, lots of progress will be made to make these really slick experiences. However, just from a gut feeling, the Blackberry seemed like the ´coolest´one to play with as an alternative to the iPhone, with the Google Phone coming a close second.