Chinese predictive test company Zi Corporation has launched a user interface application that takes users direct to the applications on their phone. Using Zi's expertise in predictive text technology, the Qix UI software prompts a user with either a contact or application after just one, two or three key strokes.
For instance, typing in just the number 5 would initially bring up any contacts beginning with the letters j,k,l as well as any phone numbers beginning with the number 5 or applications on the phone beginning with the letters jkl. Type in another number and the selection is defined only to the contacts, numbers and applications that begin with the text equivalents of those two numbers.
Mobile Europe has trialled this technology and has found one of the chief advantages is that the system tends to lead to a contacts-first mode of working. So rather than opening up messaging, selecting text, getting a blank text template up and then entering recipient and details, instead a couple of clicks means a contact is brought straight up on the phone display. Click options and you are asked if you would like to call, text, MMS this contact. Choose what you want to do and away you go.
Of course, the advantages of this to operators would be that as more applications are added to phones, this would be a good way of making them visible to end users, rather than expecting the user himself to go and search out the application from the menu.
One slight drawback to that is that although the "What would you like to do with this contact" approach works well, and inputting the letters required to take you direct to an application also works, the software is less fully integrated with the phone when it comes to changing the settings and profiles of the phone itself.
For instance, when you get a new phone one of the things you might like to do is find which ringtone you'd like. It would be nice if typing in 7,4,6 would bring up RIN, for ringtone, which it does. But then when you click on this you are presented with a "Help" file telling you about Ringtones and how to set them up etc, rather than taken directly into the available options themselves. Linda Wu, Zi Corp's marketing director said this was something the company was working on.
Zi's Qix was tested on a Nokia 7610, meaning of course it is built for Series 60 on a Symbian OS. Support for Windows Mobile and Palm OS based phones is in the pipeline, Linda Wu, ??, said. Qix is a C++ application that takes up about 400k of memory. The company's predictive text application is about 500k.