Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I recently posted about the idea of a "merged web interface" for mobiles. The idea was mainly about the UI, in particular having a search box approach to service discovery, both on and off device. This implies the other idea, which is that service location is transparent. The user might be using and configuring an application that is resident locally or remotely, but without knowing, or needing to know, its whereabouts (or implementation). Data sets could also be merged, such as a single list of ring tones that contains both installed and available tones.

The guys at SurfKitchen have come up with such a solution, which you might want to look at if this approach interests you. It is being deployed on O2 Active.

There is an amalgam of ideas here, some of which I have discussed before. A while back I was excited by the possibilities of XUL, a configurable GUI environment driven entirely by XML configuration data. However, this environment is articulated in terms of standard design "widgets" whereas what is really needed, as per Surfkitchen's implementation, is something more free-form in terms of interface design, such as Flash Lite offers.

Without knowing the details, it seems that Surfkitchen and Flash Lite are very similar in concept. Flash Lite is an integral part of the i-Mode experience on DoCoMo's network. This enables Flash designers and programmers to create interesting services, which has resulted in thousands of content providers making their wares available within this environment. However, I think that a key difference is that Surfkitchen has taken an approach that exposes the underlying phone functions to the user via the UI, which is a more powerful design approach similar to the MIDP 2.0 concept.

Just one final note, which is that Flash Lite supports Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG-T), which opens up a wide set of display possibilities. I have previously looked at using SVG to overlay photos taken on phones with hand-written notes, linking this to any URI, such as contact details of someone in the photo. I am now wondering if such an application is realisable with Flash Lite, which would require access to the underlying files (photos) on the phone.

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