This Copenhagen Design Week talk by Marko Ahtisaari, head of design at Nokia, explores the 2 most common patterns in mobile OS design and asks whether there is another way.
Ahtisaari compares the centralisation of the iOS model with navigating your house by moving to each new room (read: app) via the front door (read: the home button).
The work of Ahtisaari and his team on the Nokia N9 tries to replicate the muscle memory simplicity of the iOS home button, but instead of taking you back to a single place (i.e. home), it enables users to return to a remembered time state within their flow (i.e. before). With the Meego-driven N9, swiping away the current screen always take the user back to the most recently accessed of 3 home screen views: the app list, the news feed or the view of open apps.
This approach, and Ahitsaari’s desire to provide users with a more easily glanceable device, resonates with the principles of MEX Pathway #13 (‘Use quiet design principles to reduce the visual noise of mobile interface design‘). Ahtisaari reminds his Copenhagen audience that they have not yet seen the end of history in mobile UI design and says his greatest challenge is ‘giving users back their heads’, referring to the tendency for smartphone users to bury themselves eyes down in their devices.
Of course, given that the Meego-driven N9 was to be the showcase for these new capabilities, it remains to be seen how many of these admirable principles survive the wider politicking and commercial considerations of Nokia’s strategic shift to Windows Phone.