What ELSE do we need in a mobile phone user interface?

Last week we saw the unveiling of Windows Phone 7 Series. Since the unveiling people have been weighing in on both the positives and negatives associated with its new UI. Are we ready and willing to navigate a new mobile UI?

Last week we saw the unveiling of Windows Phone 7 Series. Since the unveiling, people have been weighing in on both the positives and negatives associated with its new UI. While some appreciate the complete reboot of the OS and Microsoft not carrying anything over from the older OS, others are not looking forward to navigating a brand new UI to accomplish their daily tasks.

The above got me thinking about how I use my phone daily and the learning curve associated with jumping from one phone's OS to another. This inevitably led me to investigating what other companies are planning for our mobile future.

One such company redefining the way we interact with our mobile phone is ELSE. Not only did they take a stab at making a new phone, but more importantly have designed their own unique interface known as sPlay. sPlay provides an "instant and shorter path to information and applications on the device." In essence, you use a single-hand to navigate the device and access anything you need. There's an amazing demo of the device in action on the company's site, so make sure to click this link and take a look. You can also watch Matt Miller's Hands-on from CES below.

The biggest question I'm left with is whether or not the learning curve will be worth it as companies come out with new devices and new UIs. For example, sPlay is drastically different than any interface that we interact with today. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it will either make people love it and stick with it, or stay away from it for fear of it taking too long to get up to speed and be productive on their mobile phone.

The good thing about companies thinking "outside of the box" and innovating in familiar areas is that inevitably they hit on some cool features. In the case of ELSE, one feature I really like is how you can instantly offer options to callers with what the company calls Silent Communication. You have to watch the demo to fully appreciate it but imagine someone calling and you being able to offer them an option of pressing "1" if the call is urgent, and then even responding with a customized voice message, all without having to pick up the call. It's definitely the future of unified communication, and if ELSE has a patent on it, I can see that feature really catching on in other mobile operating systems, too.

Spend some time on the ELSE Mobile website and weigh in with your thoughts on whether or not the company has a hit on its hands. Also, be sure to watch the intro video--it's one of the best intros I've seen in a long time.

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