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May 13, 2008

The evolution of bite-size software

INTERNATIONAL – Sure, heaps of applications have emerged that smartly exploit the built-in motion sensors found in devices such as the N95, N95 8GB and N82. But what is it that truly makes one of these slivers of software stand out and separates them from the guaranteed graveyard of tech gimmickry? The new Nokia Step Counter beta, as unassuming and simple as it is, goes some way to answering this. And it’s simplicity that appears to be the key.

Our growing mobile bite-size appetites seem to make it clear that despite wanting a device to perform many tasks, we want each task to be performed brilliantly and effortlessly. And so, with this in mind, the best accelerometer apps are laser-focussed on taking existing problems and making them simpler, reducing the amount of physical effort involved – be it rolling your handset to auto-rotate pictures, flipping your phone to make it go silent, or equipping your phone with a pedometer app that simply measures your steps by sitting in your pocket.

Ole Kirkeby is part of the Nokia Step Counter team, and explains how it works:

“It counts the number of steps you take by analyzing how you ‚Äôshake‚Äô your phone. Since most people have their phone with them everywhere they go, it is natural to use the accelerometer in an S60 product to track your daily activity… Most commercial step counters require you to attach the measuring device to your belt. We have made an effort to ensure that Nokia Step Counter is accurate regardless of how you carry your phone. It should work fine if you have it in a pocket of your clothing, or a handbag you wear over your shoulder.”

The accumulation of micro apps such as this, when combined should in theory result in the evolution of extremely potent and effortless user interfaces. But is it really as simple as this? What do you think?

Photo from JasonRogers