Thursday, October 16, 2008

Samsung Touchscreens

You know a technology has hit the mainstream when Nokia gets round to adopting it - touchscreens have now clearly hit that point.

Samsung got in a bit earlier, so what are they up to?

Well, if you use the Tube you won't have been able to escape ads for the Omnia, and just before that they were pushing the Tocco hard. The spec sheets look different - the Omnia runs WinMob, the Tocco runs the the proprietary Samsung OS with touch stuff kind of shoehorned in; the Omnia has that bendy touchscreen technology you can be quite accurate with if you have long fingernails, the Tocco has that hard one which is fat finger only.

With all these differences, it is great to know that Samsung have managed to create a consistent experience from both - they're both shockingly bad. Oh, witht he same ugly icons. But it is the user experience that will enrage you til you swap your SIM out.

The Tocco has some stupid widgets on the front page, which allow you to drag around an icon that when clicked lets you change the background image (which you can't see any more, because the icon covers half of it) - but can't be extended to put custom things you actually want on it. Like a poor gimmick that you tire of in under a minute, rather than a good feature. The rest - well, it's the normal Samsung UI, but with touch. That pretty much describes the thought put in, and it works as well as it sounds.

The Omnia forgoes the usual WinMob stylus, but, stupidly, doesn't really customise the UI very much at all keeping the fiddly icons and widgets you just can't click with a finger - you need a stylus. The customisation does extend into the UI a bit though - they have the useless widget thing on the front page, and three different styles of scroll control depending on what screeen you're on - WinMob standard, some sort of tiny up/down arrows in the centre of the footer (impossible to independently hit without a stylus, and poor scrolling so you really don't know where you're going) plus a sort of thin scrollbar with a side button which pops up. It doesn't work well so don't worry trying to work out what I mean. There are many times when you're presented with a WinMob dialogue with six links packed together in a tiny fraction of the 240x400 screen, which is otherwise empty, and you just can't choose which one ends up being selected when you press the screen. If there is a usability / user experience team, now would be a good time to quit in shame.

Shockingly, LG (of all people) managed to create a better UI with the Prada a year back, and Samsung still haven't beaten their countrymates. LG even released a dev site last week - times really are changing...

Apple won't be worried.