Week 9

Mobile World Congress 2023. Barcelona, February 27–March 2.

Android Features. Kicking things off, Google announced new features for Android and Wear OS. The company revealed that a single note widget for Google Keep will soon be released to help users manage their to-do lists, Google Meet will soon offer noise cancellation on more Android mobile devices, and new emoji combinations will be coming to Gboard. In addition, Fast Pair will be able to connect Bluetooth headphones to a Chromebook, but even faster if the same headphones have already been paired with the user’s Android phone.

Concept Phones. No MWC would be complete without concept phones and this Moto-rollable delivers. Nicknamed the Rizr, Motorola showcased a rollable display that increases the height of the phone at the press of a button. But the Lenovo-owned company was not the only one to push the coolness factor. The OnePlus 11 Concept is equipped with a liquid cooling system on the back of the phone, accentuated by blue LED lighting. And then there was this color-changing Chameleon. None one of these devices are likely to make it to market, but I enjoy the experimentation.

And Foldables! Speaking of OnePlus, their upcoming foldable was officially announced. The exact details on its folding style (book or clamshell) are yet to be disclosed nor is it known which geographic markets it will be available in. HONOR also announced the global release of the Magic Vs and Tecno announced the Phantom V Fold, both of which are Chinese OEMs that are relatively unknown in the US. But I welcome any challenge to Samsung’s current hold on foldables market.

SnapChatGPT. In non-MWC news, Snapchat announced the launch of the OpenAI powered chatbot. Named “My AI,” it has been trained to have a unique voice and personality while also adhering to the app’s trust and safety guidelines. Despite my reluctance towards the current craze, the notion of AI helping me with things like gift recommendations or plans for a weekend trip honestly appeals to me. The question, as is the case with most newfangled tech, is can it deliver?

Windows iMessage? Yep. Microsoft began supporting iPhone syncing via the Phone Link app. An integration that has been available for Android for awhile, messaging or calls for iOS has not historically been supported on Windows. Using Bluetooth, the functionality will have some limitations (no photos, no group chats) and is being rolled out to Windows Insiders first. Regardless, I’d call this a step in the right direction.

From the desk of…

Last week in our Slack channel for #mobile-ux, the topic of what I’ll collectively call “mobile design resources” came up, specifically as it relates to design trends, theory, and principles. So, I thought I’d share the reduced version of my thoughts. Here it goes…

In my mind, the HIG and MD are gospel when it comes to mobile design. For a third-party opinion, I might look at Samsung’s work on One UI (largest Android segment in the US) as well as some of the other Android skins. And with the advent the Surface Duo, Microsoft has also compiled some guidelines around foldable devices. But what you lean on for guidance is greatly influenced by the technology it’s built on.

Which brings me to some other considerations: Third-Party vs True Native vs Responsive Web.

For example, third-party platforms (like React Native & Flutter) have a bit more design flexibility which is both good and bad. With “true native” (Swift, Kotlin), however, you probably want to stick more closely to the HIG and MD (higher guardrails at the dev layer, but you also get a lot of stuff for free). Responsive web, on the other hand, is basically the Wild Wild West — anything goes, really. But that’s not to say it cannot be tamed with generally accepted design patterns and best practices.

Without knowing the specifics of a project’s goals & constraints, those are some of my general thoughts when it comes to mobile design. What do you turn to as a resource?

P.S. If you want to get down in the weeds on MWC, I was listening to this Vergecast ep while writing most of this.




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