Smartphones are great. I can use them to read, browse, look up who that guy in that movie is, listen to podcasts, and even take photos with them. Supposedly it can also make calls, but I don’t know anyone that uses smartphones for that anymore. Only, when my smartphone dings in the middle of the night because it found that I have a new email and it absolutely has to tell me right now, it’s not quite as smart as the prefix suggests.
Smartphones should know when to bug you but most importantly, when not to. On the Android, I’ve fallen in love with Setting Profiles, a programmable context settings manager.
There’s a permanent shortcut in your windowshade showing which profiles are active. Click the shortcut and you’ll see all your profiles for easy access. Yup, would look much nicer were the app updated to the new Ice Cream Sandwich look … developer, ping?
So essentially, the app is about profiles and contexts. For example, “Rotation lock” is simply a shortcut to a feature I’d otherwise have to dig up from deep within the settings panel; quite useful for when you’re lying down and reading. “Quiet time”, on the other hand, is auto-activated from 22:00 to 09:00 every day, i.e. night-time — it essentially mutes the ringer and disables email sync.
“Quiet time” is a activated by a schedule context, but it could also have been activated by a location (as decided by GPS, Wi-Fi SSID or cell-tower ID), or when you dock your phone in a car, when you plug in a headset, when you miss a call or a number of other contexts.
The end result is that I have to do a lot less managing of my smartphone. That’s really nice, and it’s certainly smarter than the phone was when I got it. Still, it requires you to set it up when in fact your phone should be able to handle a lot of these things itself. I bet that’s the next big thing: actually making smartphones smart.