S60 Summit 2008: Experience

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0818: The second day of the S60 Summit kicks off with Esa Eerola, who is the Head of S60 User Experience Marketing at Nokia, taking to the stage. He begins the day stating that “total user experience is a result of many factors”, including the software platform (of course), the ability to personalise the device, adding wallpapers, ringtones etc as well as applications and add-ons, and finally, having available form factors, whether that be a candybar, slider, clamshell, or smartphone.

0830: Eerola cries out that new requirements are needed for handsets, improving multitasking, making the navigation nicer to look at, calling upon the use of widgets for easy personalisation, and expanding the way to present system and event based notifications.

0833: Talking about the latter point, he says users don’t want to constantly be confirming they’ll be going to an event, or marking something off their to-do list, that a better system is needed. He talks about haptics, whether they could be used more in alerts and notifications.

0834: People like to customise their belongings, and differentiate themselves from their friends, allowing them to do this to their handsets is important, and will help them be more effective in their mobile usage. Likewise, application design should be highly configurable, able to hide or even delete them, and tune the look and feel of them.

0839: In the future, there will be lots of exciting services and applications opening up, but areas such as privacy need to be addressed first. Near field communications, for instance, wouldn’t work unless there was a complex set of security choices.

0847: Eerola wraps up his presentation, and hands the stage over to Marc Naddell, who is the Vice President of Partner and Developer Programs at Navteq. His presentation is called ‘Building location-aware services’, giving me an inkling of a feeling he’ll be discussing geo-tagging and inbuilt GPS systems.

0856: Outlining some of the areas of applications Navteq can foresee, resource tracking, fleet management, navigation and customer profiles will feature in resource management, with friend finder programs, LBS gaming, social networking and niche services being forms of entertainment-based apps. Meanwhile, going back to the importance of security, he feels movement tracking, family locator, an emergency assist and LBS commerce will also become prominent on handsets. Information services, such as traffic and transit alerts, weather information and point of interst look-up are already in use.

0859: Mobile devices are increasingly using LBS (Location Based Services) techniques, with navigation being the first function, then the market shifted to enterprise, then games, and then social networking. Finally, user generated content such as geo-tagged photos, employ LBS, and will only get more and more prevalent.

0901: Navteq has undertaken a survey, and discovered that the accuracy of maps, the price, and ease of use are the three most important selling-points for consumers in sat-nav systems, which could be applicable for mobile handsets as well.

0922: Xavier Carrillo-Costa, the CEO and Founder of Digital Legends, leads the next presentation at the S60 Summit, discussing the role of mobile games. He claims that smartphone users are wanting more sophisticated games, something which the industry thought was more suited to entertainment-based handsets.

0925: Most of the industry thinks the Nintendo DS is the most capable portable gaming device, he claims, seemingly forgetting about the Sony PSP. In actual fact, S60 mobiles are more capable, often with more CPU power, more RAM, a larger memory capacity, some HW acceleration and more than 300,000 polygons.

0936: Several key features will need to be implented in S60 devices for more people to be attracted to mobile gaming, such as better controls with at least eight directions, haptics, and also links to consoles’ online systems such as the Xbox Live Arcade WiiWare and the Playstation Network.

1008: After a short coffee break (croissants, nom nom nom), we get down to the nitty gritty with David Wood, the Executive Vice President of Research at Symbian. He begins by stating that increased functionality impacts on the usability of the phone, with more for users to choose, there’s less UI simplicity. More CPU processing may mean a worse battery life, and with more to manufacture and integrate, there’ll be higher costs, slower TTM and less design flexibility. You need an operating system that handles the complexity of the platform, and components that are designed to work well together.

1018: Symbian is working towards streamlining the performance of the S60 platform, with identified improvements including being able to delete images from the picture gallery faster, and leaving the applications in the memory once they’re closed, so when you use them next, it will be a faster process.

1021: Describing Freeway, Wood says the communications system can simultaneously handle VoIP calls and emails at the same time, when using a bluetooth headset. It can also detect various WiFi hotspots, and if ever dropping out, it will default back to using the handset’s 3G connectivity, all the way streaming a song or movie flawlessly, not dropping out.

1024: A new Symbian service, Screenplay, uses various surfaces on the handset display, allowing for unique features to be customised, video to be hardware accelerated, and applications to be used in the middle of using something else.

1035: Dr. Paul Coulton, a Lecturer in Mobile Games and Social Networks at Lancaster University, jumps up to talk about how teenagers have a strong influence on technology, and where it’s heading for mobiles. A few years ago he built a location-based software game, which is available online as an application for S60 phones, which has given him an insight into what teens are interested in with such apps.

1042: He proceeds to go through some of the ways teens, or youth, are using the internet, with streaming and downloading movies and TV shows being an obvious example. It’s all stuff you already know, as a reader of Tech Digest, so I won’t list all the other instances he names.

1052: Language is evolving, he says, into txt spk and lol-speak, Wood uses a word I’ve never actually heard of before, ‘PAW’ – meaning ‘parents are watching’. Nice.

1059: Teenagers like to ‘mod’ their handset, create custom interfaces, and easily-located applications such as IM.

1102: I have 12 minutes left of battery life, but Coulton should be wrapping up in this time, if he sticks to schedule. He’s still describing teenagers’ patterns of use with mobiles, and the importance of manufacturers allowing for customisation.

1108: With six minutes of battery left, Coulton wraps up his presentation, and the Event Chairman, Matti Vanska, takes over to end things.

Thanks for reading everyone, I’m off to catch a plane back to London!

Katherine Hannaford