The Red Button As A Multitasking Killer

When I see one of my non-tech friends having bought a new mobile I always ask them a lot of questions about their new toy to figure out what works and what doesn't. Recently, one of my friends bought a Nokia N78, following my advice, as he wanted to have a nice phone, a good camera and mobile Internet connectivity. Also following my advice, he installed OperaMini, all by himself, I might add, and has figured out how to use the built in Wi-Fi to browse the web at home. Not bad I would say. But here are a some basic things he has not figured out by himself:

  • Multitasking: He always used the 'red' button to end an application instead of the Symbian menu button. When I showed him he was very surprised and asked me how he could have known this. Right, how could he have known this!? But he was very happy about it because he immediately saw the value of just sending the browser and other applications to the background and returning to it later.
  • GPS: He wasn't aware that GPS is only working outdoors. Therefore he was not sure if his GPS was working or not and a bit displeased with Nokia Maps for not showing him were he was. At least, the APN for the A-GPS was configured automatically so if he had tried it outdoors it would have worked. Maybe a notice when starting up Nokia Maps for the first couple of times to try it outdoors would help.
  • E-Mail configuration: He asked me if he could also receive is personal e-mail on the phone. Sure you can I said, let's configure it together next time we see each other and you have all the required configuration information (pop, smtp server, etc.) Hm, the right answer would have been: Sure no problem, just type in your e-mail address and password and the phone figures out the rest. To this end, I think Nokia has made great progress already, as it worked pretty much like that on the Nokia 5000 when I was tested that device a while ago.
  • Idle screen configuration: To start OperaMini he always went to the menu, selected applications and scrolled down to the OperaMini icon instead of putting it as a small icon on the idle screen for fast selection.

If I remember right, Nseries mobiles have a kind of "First Steps" application to inform new users about the capabilities of the device and maybe to teach them some tricks. However, I don't have it on my own device I must have probably deleted it. In any case, he did not use it, not sure why. So it might help to put that application into a more promiment place, add some more basic tips and tricks and maybe to ask the first couple of device startups if the application should be started. Or how about a discovery mode where tips&tricks are shown until the user turns it off? For the moment, I've sent him this link for further advice.

4 thoughts on “The Red Button As A Multitasking Killer”

  1. Hello Martin,

    Really enjoyed reading this post as I am planning to setup phones courses for the many people out there who could be more efficient with their phones but don’t know whom to turn to.
    Thank you very much I am comforted in my project.

    As usual enjoying this blog,

  2. Hi Martin,
    I guess red button is used to close the apps because the average user is not aware of how many windows are open or how to close them and if you send everything to background you end up crashing the system…But the average user is not aware of those functions because Symbian has made them very very hidden in the OS so you could say that is the Symbian “self-fulfilling prophecy”. I guess, the PR answer would be that the mobile phone has limited resources and it’s better to close apps than pile them up in the background 😉
    Anyway, Symbian is not alone in this since the “x” in Windows mobile and apple home button do the same in their mobile phones.

  3. The email setup utility in newer phones (E66, E71, N96, etc) does indeed allow you to simply type in your email and password and automatically configure *most* emails. The problem there, though, is that then you’re using the default S60 email app, which is horrific. Send him to (even on his phone) to get the new Intellisync-powered beta, it’s MILES better.

    The Idle Screen organization has always been something that really bothered me. I’d like to have something where I could highlight an app in the main menu, click options, and choose ‘send to Active Standby’ or something like that. Unfortunately, they’re not quite there yet.

    I’m also interested at how many people don’t realize that GPS only works outdoors (for the most part). I don’t know why it always seemed obvious to me. I suppose because people think all phone features should work indoors, and satellite, by definition, really can’t. Interesting, nonetheless.

    Keep up these peeks into the normob usage trends. They’re really interesting, and we can only hope that Nokia is aware of them, though I would imagine they are.

  4. Or… Nokia could include a manual with the phones they are selling, so that people that are noobs can have a step by step explanation of every function of their phone…

    Oh wait, duh…

    I don’t want my high tech phone to show messages like “XY is calling you. If you want to answer your call press the green button. It’s the one on the bottom left by your screen. No… The other left…”

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