Why does this have to be so hard?
Disclaimer: I am a non-geek, attempting to use the Desire without geek assistance, as a normal, general consumer would. Please do not give me answers in comments. They do not help me give an honest review of what it’s like for a true non-geek to use the Desire.
There are some things I really love about the Desire. I love that I can access all three of my Gmail accounts through the one program, that my calendar automatically syncs and that my contacts are readily accessed. I am totally in love with the share function. I know I have mentioned this before, but it is just so simple, straightforward and immediate. Today, one of my students mentioned she was having great difficulty remembering how a particular technical exercise went, even with the music in front of her (like a lot of singers in the early stages of training, her reading hasn’t yet caught up with her vocal skills). I whipped out the Desire, used Voice Recorder to record myself playing the exercise, pressed the share button, chose Gmail, started typing her name (her contact details came up almost immediately) and emailed it to her account so she could listen to and practice with it at home. Fabulously useful and it didn’t waste valuable lesson time as the whole process took about 90 seconds. Using Twitter is also very easy on the Desire. Once I got used to the notifications bar, I found that pretty useful as well.
And for me, that’s pretty much where it ends. Everything else is just so hard. I am exhausted from the frustration of searching for functions I can’t find; from selecting something from a menu that looks to me to be the logical choice based on the name, only to find it’s not what I thought it was; from trying so hard to complete a task and simply not being able to complete it. My brain feels like it is overloaded. I am choosing to spend more time at the computer and less using the Desire, simply because the Desire was slowing me down and wasting too much of my work time and mental space.
Today I tried file sharing through Bluetooth again, this time using my old Nokia instead of my husband’s iPhone (which I’ve discovered was creating the problem with this function). After a bit of fiddling, it worked. The music track (the only one I had on the Nokia because someone sent it to me via Bluetooth back when I first bought it in February 2008) that I’d selected had downloaded onto the Desire. I went to play it in order to test it out and compare the sound with that of the Nokia. I pressed the Music button, assuming it had been downloaded there. No sign of it. I looked to see if it had saved on the apps page. Nope. I looked everywhere I could think of, then thought there must be a search function to find things on the phone. I tried three different things that said “Search” but none let me actually search through the contents of the phone: two different websearches and the search settings. I gave up in frustration. My husband, as an experiment, took the phone and was playing the track within 90 seconds. (He did not show me how he had done this.) To me, this proves that the phone is not designed with broad usability in mind. The phone has been designed by geeks out of touch with the way that non-geeks think.
I’ve said this before on Mark’s blog, but I’ll say it again here: If this phone is to be marketed more broadly, then it must be usable by the broader market, ie business and general consumers. It doesn’t need to be dumbed down, as some geeks seem to fear (and reject), it just needs to be made more simple, more intuitive and less complex. There can always be advanced options for power users. The KISS principle is a wonderful thing. It should be used here.
Please note: Some of the readers may think that Bluetooth technology is outdated. I like to use it to send files straight to my students’ phones without them getting my mobile number. Think of the possibilities for the classroom! I realise that I can email files with the Desire, however, that means the students then have to transfer the file from their computer to their mp3 device, which is generally their phone. Bluetooth saves them a step.