Monday, September 21, 2009

Don't fidget too much with hybrid systems

If you follow me on Twitter, you've seen my frustration that caused me to hard reset my Omnia Qwerty and start over this last weekend.

The direct problem was that ActiveSync kept complaining about not having enough free memory to sync. No matter what I tried to find that took up space and delete it, I could not get this to work. I suspect a double figure Mb podcast I tried to download using the Podcast application on the Qwerty and have listened too lingered in some kind of cache.

As I had been fiddling around with "the edge between Windows Mobile and Samsung TouchWiz" when I got the phone, there were some tiny usability problems that made me decide to simply do a hard reset and start over. This post is mainly about those usability problems.

My recent experience enforced my view that compound hybrid systems usually have inherent instabilities and quirks near the composition interface. In this case: a Windows Mobile phone, made by Microsoft, with quite an extensive set of customizations and additions in the form of TouchWiz and related software, by Samsung.

I had tried to turn off TouchWiz off completely, to see if this would be my preferred way of using the Qwerty, then changed the theme, tried the installed Today Screen plugins, etc. I then found out that some of the default WM control panels and applications had been completely replaced by Samsung and that these applications (of course) kept their TouchWiz look, giving an ugly, hybrid experience. So I decided to switch back to full TouchWiz operation. This did however give me a message box about incompatible Today Screen plugins every single time I switched between Work and Life modes. I could not find a way to get this "back to normal".

So, in devices that are clearly based on the seperate efforts of two manufacturers to get to the total UX of the device, just don't fidget around with GUI settings too much, even if you think you know what you're doing. The edge cases apparently are never quite as rock-solidly tested as either the base platform on its own or the additions...

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