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September 18, 2008

Nokia Email: Visions of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde and graceful swans

GLOBAL – In early August we spoke to Boston-based Andrew Mahon, one of the key people responsible for Nokia Email beta, to get an inside perspective on it and where it’s headed. Since then we also caught up with Tommi Vilkamo, the driving force behind Beta Labs, to get an interesting lowdown on the future of Nokia’s open R&D feedback service. So it’s great to see the collaboration between the Nokia Email team and Beta Labs continues to flourish away from the pure feedback facility, with Davis Fields this week posting heaps of handy tips for the app on the Beta Labs blog for anyone to soak up.

What’s clear from the post is that Nokia Email has some hidden depths. Which also opens up a bunch of interesting questions…

Now, on reading David Fields’ wealth of tips for Nokia Email, I couldn’t help but experience a little Jekyll and Hyde moment – “Wow, that’s a lot of cool tips, I’ll try those” and “Oh no, I’m not sure if I can be bothered with learning all those shortcuts and remembering all that stuff”.

See, Nokia Email is just one example of how an application and service has a huge array of levels and breadth of features, depending on how far you want to delve in. But how deep should developers go when it comes to mobile apps? And how far do we want to delve as the people using them?

If we only dip into a fraction of the talents available from full-blown desktop apps, surely we never really get out of the shallow end when it comes to mobile software. So as we inevitably only digest mobile apps in quick bite-size chunks, should the creators focus wholeheartedly on keeping the features on the surface utterly intuitive and most prominent, sacrificing depth for simplicity? Is that a given, or should it be a balance between the two – that swan analogy comes to mind, where it gracefully glides across the water while the legs paddle furiously beneath.

What do you think?