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January 29, 2012

The Big Debate: swipe or home button?

It’s Sunday, and since our last Nokia Connects Big Debate went down so well, we’ve decided to continue this feature. Hooray!

Home button or swipe gesture?

I know some of you suggested a few topics this week at my request, for which I am grateful, but today I need to get something off my chest. This topic is based on a conversation I had with a colleague of mine, around the same time Lumia 800 phones started showing up in the Nokia Connects towers. I was still using an N9 and knew he had been previously too, so naturally, I asked what he thought about the phone and he gave me a short comparison of likes and dislikes between the two.

Although both are undoubtedly great smartphones in their own right, to him, the verdict was completely black and white – the Lumia 800 was far easier to use and navigate because of the handy windows key located on the front. This he said, was a magical button he could push at any time and instantly know where he was, saving him a lot of time, effort and confusion.

via fonearena

What could I say to that? Hmmm, well, I still loved the N9’s swipe UI, so I brought it to the table in an attempt to counter the argument. To me, it’s pretty much the same thing but it’s a gesture rather than a button, which I personally find more fluid and enjoyable. My statement was heavily contested however and I was accused of being more of a ‘techy’ than he.

I also argued that you can do a little more with a swipe UI because you’re able close an app, put it in the background as well as pick which homescreen you land on, depending on which direction you swipe. On the Lumia 800, just one press and you’re back home, it does the job sure but is it better or worse? Is it too simple? Maybe it’s just because I’m more of a ‘techy’, but I always wonder what actually happens to what I was doing when pressing the home button. I like to know where everything is and what’s going on. But hey, that’s just me of course!

I even handed over my N9 and asked him to show me how much more difficult swiping was, and to my surprise he struggled a little.
‘No no no, you’re doing it wrong!’ I said.
To this he sarcastically picked up the Lumia again and demonstrated a simple push on the home button that instantly transported him to bright Lumia tiles. I replied with my own demonstration, a dextrous swipe on the N9 taking me to the homescreen ‘easy as binary code’ I said (or something similarly ‘techy’).

via techprolonged

In the end neither of us agreed. So this is why I’m putting it to you. Homescreen button or swipe gesture? Ask yourself, your friends, family, neighbours, gardeners, pet shop owners and local law enforcement officers. I don’t just want to hear stories from you guys, I’d like to hear experiences from far beyond our mobile savvy space that we nestle in. Shout at me on Twitter and argue with me in the comments section.