I can just open it up, and look at it, and scroll to get more information. If I need to know who did that, I look to the side and there they are.And no, he's not a designer, or particularly a mobile guy, and I didn't set his phone up for him. I've never even touched it. Based on many other observations I have made of all sorts of mobile users, a lot of them use their devices this way. You don't drill into the app, or even launch it. You just un-sleep the screen and glance at it. Maybe, just maybe, you have to scroll a little ways. Or, I claim from all these, they want to. I still feel the same way I did about Widgets in 2007
A question I assume many of you will ask is: Why isn't Windows Phone the market share winner? Well, lots of the usual reasons. Marketing, price, distribution, hardware, networks and operators, and so on. By no means does the best device win. Everyone seems to now be comfortable with OSX devices selling in their non-dominant market, so think about that. I'll tell you that a lot of these relatively niche devices (like WebOS or Windows Phone) are beloved by most users of them that I know, or have interviewed for research. They give them up due to unavailability, or lack of key apps or some other aspect outside the core interactive design paradigm. But also, we may be getting there. Android is doing rather well, and if you were inclined to, you could say it's because they support widgets, and this flexibility of layout is at least part of the success. I actually cannot find a useful "reason I chose Android" study to say that, and it's possibly untrue, but everyone else lies about statistics to prove their point. So I say that Android wins because the idle screen is more flexible and can be more mobile-optimized (I actually /do/ talk to end users who say this is why they chose it). And even more importantly, tomorrow is the future. Mobile, more than other technologies, changes all the time. And often in unexpected ways. On Thursday, a new head for HP. Is WebOS on the way back? Or this recent InfoWeek survey of mobile OSs (available at their site, but thru a subscription wall so the link may or may not be good) that shows Windows Phone perceived as just a tidge less useful to the IT professional than iOS. The future doesn't even have to be a variation on what we have today. There are OSs on the market off in other corners of the world you might not have heard of. Speaking of Itai, his Else phone prototype was a shockingly amazing piece of design in every way; I see no reason something that radical cannot make it to market sometime and surprise us all. Or maybe the web will take over, and the device OS won't matter. Or… something else. I have no idea what tomorrow will really bring. But it won't be more grids of icons.
For more on designing widgets, or just making those bog-standard lists and grids the best they can be, check out our forthcoming book Designing Mobile Interfaces. Pre-order from Amazon for a significant discount, or read the content online right now.