What is this? From this page you can use the Social Web links to save User Experience Critique: HTC Touch Diamond to a social bookmarking site, or the E-mail form to send a link via e-mail.

Social Web


E-mail It
June 12, 2008

User Experience Critique: HTC Touch Diamond

Posted in: UE Critique, UI Technologies, User Experience Design, User Interface

HTC Touch Diamond: Your Windows Mobile is Showing

In March I posted HTC’s beautiful promotional video of the Touch Diamond UI. Now that the device is commercially available (in the UK for now) we can see the interface design in action. In a fairly in-depth video the mobile bloggers at TracyandMatt.co.uk run the UI through its paces.

The UI belies the Windows Mobile 6.1 OS underneath — it is nowhere apparent in HTC’s official video. But the problem isn’t necessarily Windows Mobile as the HTC UI does a great job at hiding it. The problem is the gaps they left in the Touch Diamond UI that let the Windows Mobile core UI poke through. The result is a disjointed experience as the user bounces between what seems like a solid, gestural and accelerometer-enabled touch experience and back to the basic and ugly Windows Mobile UI. As you can see from the video, there are clearly breakdowns in the experience where the new HTC UI behaves differently from the Windows Mobile underneath.

This is a case study of the fragmentation in the go-to-market (commercialization) process. The device manufacturers, the carriers and the operating systems come from different places with different motivations and business models. The parties involved are never fully able (despite what seems to be a really fantastic effort from HTC) to make that industry fragmentation invisible to users.

The video illustrates some of the noteworthy gaps in the user experience. Play by play after the bump…

Press play, I’ll walk you through the highlights…

00:27 - Beautiful Touch Diamond UI in action. Clearly the motion design and the video drivers are well matched delivering a solid experience.

01:28 - The Start Menu, although customized is still the Start Menu. Enough said.

01:36 - The camera app appears to be a re-skinning of a straightforward camera app.

03:48 - The most telling part of the video is where the Touch Flo UI ends and Windows Mobile shows through. It becomes clear that the same gestural touch that is part of the HTC interface breaks down. The gestures no longer respond in Windows Mobile application grid. The user is left to use his fingernail to grab the Windows Mobile scrollbar to navigate.

04:12 - Watch the demo of the Opera 9 browser in action with impressive gestural scrolling and double-tapping to zoom. (It’s not clear if the UI allows multi-touch input as the person giving the demo isn’t using multi-touch gestures.)

05:04 - The custom-designed YouTube app appears to have followed iPhone’s YouTube app almost entirely: the listings and the viewing experience are nearly identitcal except for the larger icons and

07:39 - A touch keypad with T-9? Accessing the messaging app, a T-9 keypad comes up on the screen. The keypad is software, making me puzzled as to why they would include a T-9 style configuration instead of contextually toggling between qwerty and number keys. Is their belief that users have an affinity for T-9? Is it just laziness?

07:26 - The accelerometer that works so well elsewhere in the UI doesn’t extend throughout the experience. Rotating the device in messaging mode doesn’t behave as one would expect.

08:26 - The guide gets flustered in the Application menu and exclaims, “I’m just trying to work out how the frickin’ d-pad works… it’s quite strange.”

Related critiques of Windows Mobile experiences: T-Mobile Shadow, Samsung Blackjack.

Return to: User Experience Critique: HTC Touch Diamond