what should a key-guard function do?ramble

March 12, 2007

AARGH! What's the one thing a cellphone's "Key Guard" should do? How about GUARD THE DAMN KEYS from registering presses?

Dang this makes me more angry than it should.
It's like phone designers have no common sense whatsoever.

I'm currently avoiding using a high-end PocketPC (for which I extended my contract with Sprint) because of a similar issue; it had a great big touchscreen, and the "key guard" was the power-off button. Which would have been great, had the phone not always been turning itself on to tell me about an alarm I set. Or some other alarm. Or no particular reason... thus giving me, or rather my pants, a reputation for calling people at odd intervals.

That's a personal and professional embarrassment, not to mention an annoyance for my friends, so I went back to my core principle of "I won't by a phone that's not a flip-phone" (with the keys safely inside the closed unit) and got a nice Sanyo Katana. It has volume buttons and a camera shutter on the outside, but it of course has a key guard. A key guard that goes away by the simple expedient of holding the volume button down. And then you're one convenient keypress away from doing a redial of the last number you called. So Matt had a nice conversation with and a fascinating voicemail from my pants.

WHAT WHERE THEY THINKING? I could see having a key-guarded key still turn off a ringing phone, because people want to do that in a hurry. But to design as if all accidental keypresses were just temporary little things? Do phone designers realize people have pockets, and sometimes people want to put their cellphone in their pocket? You'd think that would be somewhere in Cellphone Design 101... "people put cellphones in pockets". And then "Phones shouldn't make calls on their own accord".

To be fair I don't think this is going to happen very often with this phone, but still; this kind of blatant technological misdesign feels me with rage, just the sheer lunk-headedness of it, a proactive attempt to make things "better" (by including some weird-ass "I want to call the person I just talked to but I can't be arsed to actually, you know, open the phone") when the blatantly obvious thing to do, the logical default, would have been perfect and taken less work besides. It is so not the Right Thing (the caps are important)... it's the Anti-Right-Thing. I despair for the state of product design in general. (I've heard that Motorolas have a similar problem, except they'll cheerfully let you change the ringtone, and make it extra easy to turn it to "silence" with realizing it.)

Thanks for letting me vent...

Quote and Political Sniping of the Moment
"If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much."
--Donald H. Rumsfeld. This was the "Quote of the Day" on the Google startpage feature. I'm sure right-wingers take solace in this kind of thinking, but it kind of ignores its counterpoint "if you are being criticized, there's a chance you're doing way, way, way too much". Especially in the whole nation-invading and regime-changing business. Or, not giving generals the number of troops they think they'll need because of your misguided "new army" idea.