late last year a Springboard Gold program for module makers that want
compatibility testing. I've been fortunate enough to get my hands
on most of the Springboard modules that have been released for the Handspring
Visor, and I offer below some usability tips for Springboard module makers.
Let the user decide what applications remain on the Visor.
Several modules have been released that have additional software that installs
on the Visor. These programs sometimes take up unnecessary space
on the Visor. One example is the Omnisky wireless module. OmniMail
and Yahoo! Messenger are both installed onto the Visor when you first insert
the module, and are reinstalled the next time you insert the module --
even if you delete the applications from your Visor's memory.
module makers should have a menu option or Setup program that lets the
user decide what stays on the Visor. A listing of applications included
with the module would have check boxes that indicate if the application
should remain in the Visor's memory when the module is removed. From
my example above, I may want to write an email to someone while off-line,
but I would need the module inserted so I can use instant messaging.
Let the user decide.
These settings would be in a small preferences database that remains
on the Visor. Application data would of course always remain
on the Visor, but users don't want to have 100+ KB programs wasting space
on their Visors.
Test with common accessories and software. If you are working
on any type of communications Springboard module, make sure that the user
can use a keyboard at the same time they are connected with the module.
This is one of the biggest (and unsung) advantages of the Visor -- users
can be online at the same time they are typing on their keyboards.
Take advantage of it.
Release updates. Nobody wants to buy something that is
outdated tomorrow. One of the nicest things about the flash memory
that most Springboard modules have is that it is incredibly easy to update
the internal software. With the release of the Visor Prism, there
is no excuse for modules to not have some color functionality. Even
simple modules like the Backup module could use color. Why not have
the "Back up now" button be green and the Restore button be a dark yellow?
People want to show off their new color Visors, and if your module is in
color, they will be showing it to potential customers. Nobody is
demonstrating Tiger Woods Golf.
and overdeliver. It's always nice to surprise the customer.
Card Access is the poster boy
for this. Thinmodem users already had a nice standard-size modem,
but Card Access went the extra mile and updated
their software so that users could also store ~500 KB on the module
as well. The company didn't have to do that, but they did it anyway,
and users loved them for it.
Release dates & working with others >>