Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.

Mobile Phones

BlackBerry Storm Not So Touchy With TalkLock™

January 2, 2009

One design flaw that's bothered me with the BlackBerry Storm is that the touch screen remains active during a phone call.  CellAvant has offered a solution to my frustrations with TalkLock™.

While on a call, the BlackBerry Storm touch screen stays active and displays your number, your connected time, and as much information as is available with who you are contacted to.  On the bottom half of the screen you also have 4 large buttons, one for speaker, one for mute, one for flash and one to add participant.  Then at the very bottom there are 5 menu buttons. One to show keyboard, one to launch the notes application, one to navigate you to the home screen, one to show your calendar, and one to show your contacts.

All of these options are great and very useful in keeping everything at my fingertips that I might need during a call.  The only problem is I've got big cheeks...  Yeah I know it's an odd thing to say, but while talking or smiling, my cheeks constantly hit the mute button and I get mad at my phone because I'm talking and the person on the other end of the line can't hear me.  I've resorted to holding the phone out and hovering during the calls.

Now... I imagine the phone was designed this way because RIM and Verizon assume that a good percentage of their clients are Bluetoothing.  Everyone who lives off an earpiece would have no idea what I'm talking about and I can see how this current design works perfectly for them.  I however hate walking around with an earpiece as I've said before, and I know I'm not the only one.

Well, for the rest of us Stormies that are frustrated with accidental screen presses during a phone call, CellAvant is offering the free utility TalkLock™ (BETA), a touch screen lock for the BlackBerry Storm.

Once downloaded, the utility automatically engages a few seconds after a call is connected.  It locks your screen similar to the image shown in this entry.  While you see this screen, all normal touch screen functions during the call are intercepted, preventing screen presses from launching functions or programs.  If you need to access all those options you would normally have on a call, just slide the lock bar across, and you return to the normal Storm call screen.  When the call ends, TalkLock™ automatically releases your phone and hides until the next call.  The background image that you see during the call is also customizable (save a 360x480 PNG format image over TalkLock-Background.png in the home/user folder of Device Memory and do a full reboot).

To install TalkLock™, register here, providing an email address that delivers mail to your BlackBerry Storm. According to my device the download was 69.0KB for Version 1.01.

YouTube Client Offers Richer Experience for BlackBerry Storm Users

December 31, 2008

The BlackBerry Storm's built-in web browser is capable of browsing YouTube, but it was a little depressing that my new toy did not come with a YouTube application out of the box like the iPhone does.  The experience worked well enough for my purposes, but a dedicated client is usually much more user friendly and offers more on a mobile device.

Google answered the call and has now released a YouTube client for the BlackBerry Storm (Version 1.6.10).  According to Google this dedicated client will offer Stormies a much richer mobile video experience.

I downloaded the 520.1KB client to my Storm this morning and I fully agree.  This is a much better mobile YouTube experience. 

Features included in this client:
  • Browse through millions of videos through different criteria on your phone
  • Access favorites and playlists from your YouTube account
  • Upload videos directly from your Storm to YouTube
  • Share and rate videos
  • Keyword search for videos
  • Related video suggestions to videos you watch
If you own a Blackberry Storm and you use YouTube semi-frequently...  I highly suggest downloading this client.

Download YouTube Mobile for the BlackBerry Storm.

Bloggers dream of a perfect iPhone

December 29, 2008

Earlier this week Gizmodo posted a concept design of what they vision should be the next generation of the popular iPhone.  The design was originally developed by blogger Matt Brady and named the iPhone Elite.  Gizmodo took his concept and tweaked it with some added features of their own and named it the iPhone Pro.

Their basic complaints about the current iPhone follows that of many in the blogosphere.  No physical keyboard, lack of storage, and a sub-par camera.  The iPhone Pro concept features 60 GB of storage, a slide-out keyboard, true 16:9 aspect ratio, and a better all around camera.

While Matt's original concept is incredible, I think Gizmodo made one very impressive addition.  A D-Pad and two buttons.  iPhone games are becoming increasingly popular and by adding easier and more recognizable controls, I think it could really begin to compete with handhelds like the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP.

The only problem that I can see with all of this is the risk of adding too much size.  With an added keyboard and a better camera with zoom capabilities, you could potentially get close to doubling the 4.7 ounces that the iPhone 3G currently weighs.  There's also the potential that the depth would increase to well over a half inch (currently at 0.48 inches).  Features are great, but no one wants to talk to a brick.

Finally... the BlackBerry Storm is here

November 21, 2008

I've been loosely following some of the hipe in this blog and now we've finally reached the release day.  As of this morning, you can purchase the worlds first touch screen BlackBerry.  Through Verizon it is available for $199 ($249 2 year price minus $50 mail-in rebate debit card) and a new 2 year activation.

I was hoping to be one of the first to comment on real world experience with its functionality and the pro's and con's of the touch screen design...  but I was informed last night by my fiancee that I am now in the "Christmas Blackout" period.  Basically I'm not allowed to buy myself anything until December 26th.

So please feel free to drop me a line or comment here and tell me and the rest of the TMCbloggers how great this phone is or how terrible your experiences are with it.

Interesting "First Reactions" to the BlackBerry Storm

October 8, 2008

Will the BlackBerry Storm blow the competition away?

October 2, 2008

I'm behind the times when it comes to my mobile phone.  It's not that I don't want a 3G phone, but I'm afraid of it becoming a leash.  However, times are changing, and I really can't afford to not have e-mail or browsing capabilities on the road anymore, so now I have to figure out... which one?

A big part of my hang-up on this is that I like certain aspects of a lot of phones and don't want to invest in one while coveting another.