Let’s say for example, that you click the SMS/MMS button with your thumb – you’re then greeted with the standard Windows Mobile SMS screen, and trying to navigate that with your thumb is, as Mia Wallace might say, an exercise in futility. This means that you need to take the stylus out and start stabbing at the virtual keyboard, just like with any other Windows Mobile device – hardly the revolutionary, consumer friendly device that HTC had insisted the Touch was at the launch last week.
I encountered another serious annoyance the first time I closed an application after using it. So, imagine I was checking my calendar and wanted to close that application. The most obvious way to close a Windows Mobile app is to hit the X button at the top right of the screen, but if I do that, it dumps me back to the home screen. If I want to go back to the TouchFLO screen that I had come from I need to swipe my thumb from the bottom to the top of the screen – hardly intuitive. Personally I would expect to go back to the previous page when I close an application, but clearly the TouchFLO skin can’t quite manage that.
The TouchFLO interface does have some functionality in general Windows Mobile apps though. If you access your Contacts list, you can scroll through them quickly by sliding your thumb up the screen. The contact list will whiz up the screen and then slowly come to a halt, like a roulette wheel losing momentum. You can stop at any point by tapping the screen, but is this faster than using the stylus and the scroll bar? No. Is it quicker than tapping in the first letter of the name you’re looking for, then selecting it? No. Is it a useless gimmick that’s implemented to make the TouchFLO skin seem worthwhile? Yes!
Although HTC was quite adamant that the iPhone had no bearing on the Touch, it’s pretty much impossible to believe that Apple’s forthcoming foray into mobile communications wasn’t the driving force behind this product. One of the HTC guys went as far as saying that he’d never even seen the iPhone – yeah, right! The big difference between the Touch and the iPhone, is that Apple has designed a device with an intuitive interface that allows users to access everything with a tap of their thumb, whereas the Touch has a clumsy skin overlaid on a bog standard Windows Mobile OS. Given, I haven’t actually got my hands on an iPhone yet, but even being the most sceptical non-Apple-fanboy, I have to admit that when it comes to great user interfaces, Apple knows what it’s doing.