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October 24, 2013

In the Fastlane with the Nokia Asha 500, 502 and 503

Fastlane is the second home screen on new Asha Platform models, offering a different, better way of interacting with your past, present and future on your phone.

It’s about personal experiences and actions, as opposed to just apps. Yannis Paniaras from Nokia Design explains the vision.


“The user interface design team has been working on a new experience for Nokia Asha, a second home screen, since the summer of 2011.

“We wanted to create a different mental model for using your phone, something that is less application-centric and that creates a ‘melange of user actions’ displayed along a timeline; my today, my past, and my future. When we started, we called it the ‘activity screen’.


Fastlane was first showcased on the Asha 501 when it was launched earlier this year. But the roots of the project go back to the Nokia N9, which had three home screens: an app launcher, notifications and running apps.

“Fastlane gives owners much more of an impression that their phone is alive than the standard app launcher screen,” says Yannis. “It acts as a trail of my activities, but also gives a window on the future. so it’s a true reflection of what’s important to person using the phone.”


Customers’ reactions to Fastlane have been very positive. “People find it convenient and fun. We needed to make it fairly simple to understand, since for many customers our Asha devices represent their first experience of a touch screen phone. But underneath the surface, there’s a lot more going on.”

Fastlane is always evolving. The latest version of the software, presented on the new Nokia Asha 500, 502 and 503 now allows for much greater customisation. You can selectively delete items from your Fastlane, and specify which types of content can appear on the stream. In addition, we’re showing even more content on Fastlane, such as items you share, and the likes and comments you get on those shares.

Elsewhere, we’ve added other refinements to the operating system. There is copy and paste, for example. It seems small thing, but in reality, a lot of people will appreciate this. The camera and gallery have been extensively reworked (look out for a dedicated article about this coming up soon), with one-swipe camera access, for example. We have also implemented ‘badging’ – showing the number of updates on the icons in the app launcher.


The software version that enables all these improvements to Fastlane and beyond will also be made available to owners of the Nokia Asha 501 through a software update.


The team also has big plans for the future, which it recently mapped out at workshops in Brazil and Indonesia. At present, Nokia calls Fastlane a ‘secondary’ home screen, but of course it wants to be the first.

“You can make phone calls straight from Fastlane by clicking on the person. The old model of going to an app launcher screen, clicking on the icon, finding the person and then dialling is starting to seem overly hierarchical and old-fashioned,” says Yannis.

“At present, the ‘future’ section is largely about calendar appointments. But going forward, we’ve got plans to do more there. As more services get integrated, we can start to make suggestions based on what you’ve done in the past and provide recommendations about what to do or where to go.”


“There are many more services that we want to plug into Fastlane, and we’re opening up access for third-party developers to create their own Fastlane experiences.”

“It’s very much a team effort. Interaction designers creating the concept, then visual designers defining its appearance, marketing people testing it on customers and collating feedback and of course, our engineers making it happen.”