Wednesday, July 18, 2007

EQO Mobile (part 2): Offline Mode

Version: 1.0.5
Phone: Nokia 6260

EQO is primarily a communications application. It seems reasonable to conclude that most features require some kind of network connectivity.

Fortunately for the users of EQO, the application creators have taken into consideration the benefits of, and the need for, a functional Offline Mode.

Heuristic: User control and freedom

Good: The sign in screen for EQO gives the user a chance to avoid immediately connecting to the network. The user can uncheck the checkbox "Start in Online m[ode]". Assuming that the most typical use case is to use the network to call, IM or email, EQO has made the right choice in checking this box by default.

Heuristic: Consistency/User control and freedom

Bad: Once the user selects "OK" EQO launches and attempts to connect to the network anyway.

Fortunately the Nokia 6260 prompts the user to allow EQO to connect before they get charged for any network costs...given the clear intention was to sign in offline mode instead of online mode. (Is it possible "m..." stands for something else?)

To remain offline, the user selects "No"

Heuristic: Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Good: EQO does a decent job of informing the user they are in Offline Mode, even if the message does look a lot like an error...rather than a subtle or inviting entry to Offline Mode.

Pressing the Middle Selection Key (MSK) allows the user to "Use Offl[ine]". This doesn't result in another attempt to connect, rather defaults to EQO's central 'home screen.'

From the 'home screen,' the offline functionality is mostly as described in the EQO Mobile (Part 1) post.

Heuristic: Flexibility and efficiency of use

Good: The "Options" menu varies depending on which of the three features the user is in. This helps the user access the functions they need during the right context.

From the phone feature, the following options are available in Offline Mode:
  1. My Contacts
  2. EQO Status
  3. My Account
  4. Settings
  5. Exit
Pleasantly, each item is selectable in Offline Mode, and all but EQO Status provide unambiguous and useful feedback/function. My Account is particularly useful in Offline Mode, because it keeps a running tally of data usage, down to the Byte, for users who would like to keep track. (Although not necessarily Bad, this My Account screen is also where EQO has stuck the "About EQO Mobile:" information. I don't really see how this is related to My Account. Fortunately, this information is 'below the fold.' It's just slightly awkward though and doesn't really do any harm.)

Heuristic: Visibility of system status

EQO Status is one of the 5 option items from the list. The user would likely expect EQO Status to show the current status of EQO. For some reason, this isn't what happens. Rather, the user is prompted to change the status of EQO from Offline to Online.

Selecting Online prompts the user to connect to the network again (done by the same Nokia prompt).

Selecting Minimize didn't seem to have any immediate affect. EQO, if you're still out there, please inform us as to what EQO Status is really intended to be doing...

Heuristic: User control and freedom

One of the Offline Mode settings is to change the default behavior back to the presumably more common use case of starting EQO in online mode. This saves the user from having to make that selection again each time, and implies EQO is keeping track of what the user wants. Starting in offline rather than online mode can really help the user manage connectivity issues, while maintaining control over when they really want to access the network.

For a data-conscious user, this flexibility should be nice. Once again, EQO has overall done a decent job of enabling Offline Mode usage. With a few UI tweaks here and there, this application least in Offline Mode.

More to come...

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At July 19, 2007 at 10:32 PM , Blogger Chris said...

Hello again sir,

We are indeed still out here and we thank you for another excellent post. In response to:

"EQO, if you're still out there, please inform us as to what EQO Status is really intended to be doing..."

We meant for EQO Status to imply "Set your EQO Status", but that wouldn't fit into the menu on some phones. We had also planned to have more statuses, such as Busy and Away, but didn't get to these features in our initial release.

We realize that this part of our app is a bit ambiguous and are still working out the kinks. We are welcome to any suggestions you might have, just drop us an email.


EQO Customer Evangelist

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