Last night I reclaimed my Pocket PC from my wife. She wasn’t using it and I wanted to play with the biometric reader on it. Anyway, as I was sitting drinking my cuppa I picked this up from Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox this morning and found it to be a good read. Its all about usability in consumer products but really finishes up talking about how important usability is in general and why we should spend more time focusing on it.
As I get older I think I’m starting to realise that all the backend architecture in the world won’t make a particular piece of software successful. Unless it has an interface that is kind to its users it will ultimately have a limited life span. Anyway, where was I. Ah yes! I was sitting on the couch this morning I was reading e-mail on my Pocket PC having my morning cuppa. I wanted to reply to a few of the e-mails. Hitting the onscreen keyboard with the stylus was going to take me forever so I had to abandon that idea.
I wondered whether I should send a voice mail back using the record button on the iPAQ but since it was going back to a mailing list it would probably get stripped or bounce. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to follow up on the e-mail when I got in front of my laptop (which was just sitting in the other room after all). In a last ditch effort to make the whole experience worthwhile I wondered if I could somehow flag the e-mail for follow-up. Nope!
So basically the device has a hard to use keyboard, the voice feature while a good idea doesn’t work today because attachments (wave files) often get stripped – and even if they did Telstra usage charges for sending something like that over GPRS would be atronomical (its expensive enough to send text). So the only thing it could do easily (flag for follow up) it flat out didn’t support.
Note that this isn’t a reflection on the Pocket PC, more just about the sorry state of technology in general. I’m hoping that the Smart Phones that the Microsoft folks are carrying around deliver a better experience – but then they don’t have to pay for the GPRS connection out of their own pockets.