'Glanceable design' - a great user experience innovation?

by Kerstin Exner on 8 February 2012

A hot topic in the mobile user experience world right now is – will Nokia win back a larger share of the smartphone market with ‘Glanceable Design’?

I recently read an interesting interview in the Guardian with Nokia’s VP of design Marko Ahtisaari.

Nokia had been a front-runner in innovative mobile design for so many years, it was disappointing to see how they missed the boat on the development of innovative touchscreen smartphones.

By teaming up their Lumia 800 phone with Microsoft’s Windows mobile OS, they have taken a big leap to an interface which is quite different to the prevalent iOS and Android. The live tiles concept allows to see updated content right on the home screen without having to open any application. Ahtisaari calls this “glanceability”. The live content enables users to have their heads up and interact with their environment and people around them more rather than being immersed into the operation of their phone.

Looking at people using their smartphones today they certainly are often quite immersed even when in company. The question is, is this immersion with technology rather than people out of necessity or choice? Sometimes it appears that people like the company of their phone more than the people they are with! But as the novelty of having a cool smartphone is starting to wear off a bit, people may actually start treating their phones more as a commodity and quick “glanceable” interactions may become more attractive in some situations and for some applications.

Certainly this is an interesting new approach to the design of touchscreens. I am curious to see if Apple or Google will react to this by integrating more live content directly onto the homescreen as well.  Guesses anyone? Let us know in the comments below!

And judging from this video from the Nokia design labs, this is by no means the end of innovative interaction design for mobile devices.

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