Improving the Maemo 5 phone experience

Posted on 2009-11-01 19:21 UTC by Randall Arnold. Status: Under consideration, Categories: User Experience, Devices.

Some have complained that the N900 cell capability feels like an afterthought, and is missing features expected on advanced communications devices.

While the N900 may be a mobile computer first, there is no reason to accept phone shortcomings if improvements make sense and can be reasonably incorporated.

If you have ideas for UI and/or usability improvements to the cell or even VoIP functionality, add them here!

Discussion thread:

Solutions for this brainstorm


Solution #1: Adding filtering & sorting to call list

Posted on 2009-11-05 07:10 UTC by Emre CAN.

Log all possible communication events (see & and change current call list UI to have three new keys in a new tab just above listed last call events. Layout could be:

[ Calls ] [ Filter ] [ Sort ]

  • Calls (or whatever it can be called): remove any previous filters and apply "voice" only. Permanent action. Could display "Return" while other filters are applied since this will be default behaviour of call list.
  • Filter: Possible items: Incoming/Outgoing/Missed/Text/Data/People/Advanced
  • Sort: Possible items: Date/Contact/Protocol/Type (mobile or work, etc). Date is default selection. First application always result with ascending output while second applications (of the same criteria) always result with descending output.

Items in "Filter" menu shall apply fixed (which may be configurable simply by editing a file?) and reasonable presets of relevant filters to solve different context problem (Which is: 'Missing' has different context in IM/SMS/e-mail than in VoIP/SIP/GSM /by allnameswereout).

My reasonable preset list would be as following:

  • Incoming: Incoming (Voice Calls + VoIP Calls + Video calls + SMS + MMS + IM + Voice Mail + E-mail)
  • Outgoing: Outgoing (Voice Calls + VoIP Calls + Video calls + SMS + MMS + IM + Voice Mail + E-mail + EDGE/3G + WiFi)
  • Missed: Missed (Voice Calls + VoIP Calls + Video calls + Voice Mail) + Unread (SMS + MMS + IM + E-Mail)
  • Voice: All (Voice Calls + VoIP Calls + Video calls + Voice Mail)
  • Text: All (SMS + MMS + IM + E-mail)
  • Data: All (EDGE/3G + WiFi)
  • People: All (Voice Calls + VoIP Calls + Video calls + SMS + MMS + IM + Voice Mail + E-mail) for selected/highlighted number/contact/group
  • Advanced: Open a dialog and let user select preferred filters and directions.

Direction related (incoming, outgoing, missed), type related (voice, text, data) and subject related (selected people, all) selections could even work simultaneously, to eliminate the need to "Advanced" item. Though, an extra "Apply" button could be needed then.

In fact, I don't have any real idea how current list behaves. Sorry if I have duplicate/inappropriate ideas, please feel free to improve them. BTW I know that video calls and MMS aren't supported yet, just thinking broad.


Solution #2: Add grouping of contacts (A)

Posted on 2009-11-19 22:45 UTC by Christos Saturn.

Add Group field in order to allow grouping of contacts.

this should allow to:

  • configure different ringtones for each group.
  • block calls from specific groups.
  • Auto-reply with sms or sent to voicemail

Solution #3: Add grouping of contacts (B)

Posted on 2009-11-19 22:57 UTC by Christos Saturn.

Being able to group contacts would be useful.

As for ring tones, have them set at 3 levels:

  • Default (nothing set specifically)
  • At the group level (over rides default if set)
  • At the contact level (overrides group ring if set)

Solution #4: custom-sized speed dial desktop shortcuts

Posted on 2009-12-11 10:42 UTC by thomas p.

sometimes you may want easy and fast access to the phone call function. for example when outside, on the move, with gloves on your hand and possibly only one hand free.

enabling custom-sized speed dial buttons on the desktop would make it easier to conveniently call someone. it could be a simplified version of the contact shortcut: same picture, tapping on the shortcut triggers one pre-defined action (in this case a phone call).


Solution #5: shake to choose contact, phone to ear will call

Posted on 2009-12-11 14:18 UTC by thomas p.

this is for cases when you need to make a call with one hand and without much fiddling.

when in phone app, shaking should trigger specific actions. what about shaking triggering a suggestion to call one member from a pre-defined group? shake again and the next person is suggested. when you find the person to call, put the phone to your ear and the sensor will trigger the call function.


Solution #6: Store and Handle prefered numbers Information

Posted on 2009-12-12 12:33 UTC by Helmuth M..

Store and Handle prefered numbers Information from VCARDs in Contacts Application and handle it in the Phone Application.

When you chose a Contact, there should be a little Star or something else for you prefered number of the contact during selecting the Number to call.


Solution #7: Provide filters for grouping unknown numbers

Posted on 2009-12-13 13:40 UTC by Christos Saturn.

Apart from the ability to group and apply certain actions (e.g. block, different ringtone, divert etc) for contacts stored in the device, a similar functionality could exist for all unknown numbers.


Ideally this can be done by allowing the use of filters.

For example, one should be able to set up a group concisting of all numbers that are not in contacts and start with +4112345*. Then name that new group as "SomeGroup" and configure to use this ringtone and display message when the phone receives a call from this group.


The options could be:

Advanced group setup:

* new group / modify existing group

* include numbers already in your contacts? yes/no

* group numbers (not) starting with: +1234

* group actions:

** per Profile/Global:

  • Block calls
sent to mailbox
reply with SMS
no additional action
  • Set ringtone / display message when receive call



Solution #8: Solution #8: Better UI for Missed Calls

Posted on 2009-12-15 23:15 UTC by Oliver Janoschek.

- When one of the missed calls in the call list ist selected within the phone app, a menu (list) showing all necessary information for this particular contact should pop up

- the number he/she has tried to reach the user on top of the list, possibly highlighted and preselected

- all the other numbers of this contact will be shown below


this will allow the user to quickly see with which number the caller tried to get in touch, so the user will be able to call back ASAP. In case the user knows that the number his contact called with is a number he/she only uses at his office times, and it is evening already, the user can select one of the caller's details the user think's he/she is available at the moment. this way the user can get back at people without switching through several menus.


Solution #9: Provide speed dial for phone pad

Posted on 2009-12-18 14:28 UTC by Dawid Lorenz.

Phone pad should have support for speed dial, ie. calling specified numbers after press&hold a digit button in phone pad. Every other Nokia phone has that feature.


Solution #10: Avoid sending SMS to Landline Phone's

Posted on 2009-12-18 17:29 UTC by Helmuth M..

Add a possible to mark landline Phone Numbers as "call only" - then there should the SMS Buttons dissapear in all menus to avoid sending a SMS to a Landline Phone instead of a mobile.


Solution #11: A phone shortcut icon at task manager view

Posted on 2009-12-23 10:14 UTC by William Su.

In its current state when I want to make phone call I have several choices:

1) Press Power button then select phone.

2) Turn on "Turning Control" in the Phone app.

3) Create a phone app shortcut on desktop. Quit to desktop (either by long pressing task switch icon to desktop or task manager->desktop) and select the shortcut.

4) Have phone app in background when boot-up and select through task manager. 


For me:

 #1 is the most reliable one. Only take two presses, though one is hardware one is software.

#2 is useless since it takes too long to invoke the phone app.

#3 takes 2-3 presses.

#4 I don't want phone app stay in the background... might accidentally call someone....

I thought the unused area in task manager view could be used for easier access to phone app. The goal is to ensure that it takes at most 2 software clicks to reach phone app.

I would suggest that a phone shortcut icon presented on the screen at some of the menu levels, e.g. on the top-right corner at desktop and task manager level. The exact position might differ, e.g. it might sit next to the task switch icon.



Solution #12: Store fax numbers

Posted on 2009-12-29 11:37 UTC by Michele Michielin.

Add the possibility to store fax numbers, just like phone numbers and cell numbers:
- fax
- fax (home)
- fax (work)
I know N900 does not currently have any sort of faxing capability, but I think there should be the possibility, at least, to store fax numbers in the address book (just like Nokia Symbian phones)

Solution #15: Freedom to rename entry titles

Posted on 2009-12-30 08:56 UTC by peter kral.

Like in the N95 8GB, I am very missing the the option to adjust the name of the phone entry. There are only 3 preset options (for example: CELL, CELL (home), CELL (work)). I have many contacts from foreign, where its important for me to know which coutry I am going to call, so I always edited the entry title like "CELL (Greece), or in instance if my contact uses two or three mobile providers, I used "CELL (Orange), CELL (O2), etc...

So the freedom of editing the entry titles would be warmly welcomed. Not only the MOBILE title, but all of them. 


Solution #16: Possibility to add more than one "Note" to a contact

Posted on 2009-12-30 09:05 UTC by peter kral.

Currently you can add only one Note to one contact entry, which is not enough. I suggest to remove this limitation.


Solution #19: Add another visible field in contacts list

Posted on 2010-01-06 22:40 UTC by Stefanos Harhalakis.

Add another field in the contacts list to hold text that describes the person. This field should be shown in every contacts lists.

Currently only last-names and first-names are shown. However, I happen to have people in my addressbook that have the same name. In that case I add a descriptive text at the firstname or lastname fields. There can be an optional field that will hold this descriptive text and will be listed along firstname and lastname. This field can also be used to describe people we don't remember their names (like holding a nickname or a short description)




Solution #20: Contacts Options on Long Press

Posted on 2010-01-07 22:25 UTC by Rami Zalloum.

Every time you need to edit, delete, merge or send a contact, you'll have to open it first

it would be great if a long press on the contact can pop up a menu with the following options




3-Send as business card




Solution #21: Persistent Phone Notification icons in the status area

Posted on 2010-01-10 00:19 UTC by jeremy gillespie.

Currently it is too easy to forget about SMS, missed call or voicemail notifications as it is easy to dismiss the desktop notification and move on to something else.  This is due to the lack of persistent status or notification icons for the missed event.

I would suggest using the status bar icons area and add in some kind of phone control icons that would show phone status, for example:
1) Voicemails
2) Text messages
3) Missed Calls

This could be extended for emails also but initially I think it would be most helpful to use for phone functionality as when you clear the original desktop notification it is easy to forget about the event.  The status area of the n900 is currently the one area of the phone which contains the same persistent set of icons, if this was extented with phone status icons it would be the most useful I think.

This would follow other phone OS's where any missed event notifications appear in the status area - symbian 5th presents these icons on the stop status area of the display (this is also the same for Apple and Android). 

You would then be able to drop down the status area and click on the phone notification button to open a separate window which would show the details about each individual phone event.  Clicking on these events could then take you to the applicable application, for example:
* Clicking on a missed call event would take you to the phone app and dial the number.
* Clicking on a voicemail would take you to the phone app and dial your voicemail
* Clicking on a text message would take you to the conversations application

Once you clicked on the button and drilled down into the missed events the event icon would then be removed from the missed notifications.  This way you get a persistent notification until you take the required action so you will not forget about them easily.

This could be implemented as a widget that installs into the status area similar to the screen brightness widget or the load-applet which installs the interactive charts for cpu and memory into the status bar but then also adds the screen shot or video buttons into the status buttons.  Same for the Availability IM button, you have an icon showing whether you are online or not but then clicking on the Availability opens an additional "My Availability" area - this could be the same for the phone activities.

The icons would follow the standard icons from Symbian only prettied up a little for Maemo 5.


Solution #22: Show multiple contacts on incoming call

Posted on 2010-01-12 15:50 UTC by David Barnett.

Some of my contacts share phone numbers, e.g. spouses and family members. I usually keep one combined contact, e.g. David & Julie, but adding online accounts and email addresses into the mix makes this awkward.

When I get an incoming call from a number that belongs to more than one contact, the phone just shows whatever matching contact it finds first. I propose it displays multiple contacts on the screen somehow, or at least does something to indicate the ambiguity.


Solution #23: Show which number in incoming calls or call log

Posted on 2010-01-12 17:20 UTC by David Barnett.

The phone UI shows a "cell" icon for cell numbers, but does very little to distinguish multiple home/cell numbers. In the "reply" menu that comes up when you click on an entry in the call log, it would be extremely helpful if the original number was highlighted or placed at the top of the list.

Edit: this looks to be implemented for the call log in 51-1. It gives just the one number (phone & sms buttons), and you can click the person's icon for other contact options.


Solution #24: select calling type gsm/sip/etc from call log

Posted on 2010-01-16 12:12 UTC by Jean NN.

on my n82 ... if i want to make a call from the call log

for each number i have to option to make a voice (cellural/gsm) call or internet call.

currently on n900, if one wants to make a call from the call log to a number it is impossible to chose the way to call that number

eg: i receive a call from a gsm #  (not associated to a contact) ... after some time i want to dial that number ...but using sip or skype it's impossible. one needs to write down the number (as tehre is no copy/paste option) and use dial-pad to input the number and choose the calling type!!!!!

if one receives a gsm call from a contact .... and  wants to return the call using sip or skype ... one cannot chose this from the call log either ... onei needs to make the call from the contact list (if the contact has a sip audio field!)

SOLUTION: a long press on the number shold open a menu with several options:

1) call using: gsm/sip/etc

2) send a message using ....

3) save to contacts

4) see older n- series nokia phones!!!


Solution #25: Portait mode only

Posted on 2010-01-17 20:50 UTC by Viliam Brindzak.

Incomming calls should always be displayed in portrait mode. The transition animation takes too long and that could be the difference between an anwered and a missed call.


Solution #26: Caller ID

Posted on 2010-01-19 15:16 UTC by Andy Pham.

I'm surprised this was over-looked. (Then again, I don't remember any other cell phone with it.)

But if possible: Add Caller ID support for numbers not in contacts list.

(Thumbs down if not possible.)


Solution #27: Free-form phone number entry

Posted on 2010-01-20 00:45 UTC by Stefan Möhl.

At the moment you can only enter numbers, '+' and '#' in the phone number fields. It would be much easier to read numbers if all characters are permitted, not just "phone active" characters. Any other characters than ones that are relevant to the phone can simply be ignored. This would allow you to use '(',')', '-' and spaces, in phone numbers, but also let you add text-tags to the phone number. For example, you would be able to enter a US phone number as:


+1 (555) 123-4567


and you can  even add things like:

+1 (555) 123-4567 (Old number)

+1 (555) 123-4568 (Current number)

+1 (555) 123-4569 (Parents)

Or whatever other comment you would like.


Interestingly, the contact and phone apps already allow free-form numbers: I imported a set of vcards from my old phone with comments like this and they work excellently (including retaining the free-form text). However, the phone number entry fields simply don't accept other characters than the telephone characters so I can't enter new numbers with comments. So all this requires is to remove the limiter from the phone number text entry field, and I would be happy!


BTW, the phone number entry field also prevents paste if the clipboard contents has other characters than numbers + and #. Unfortunately it does so silently. It took me a good while before I realized why I couldn't copy-paste a number from an SMS into the phone app (the number had spaces in it).


Solution #28: Advanced Groups

Posted on 2010-01-20 17:42 UTC by Mohammed Issa.

  1. Enable users to create custom user groups (friends, family, work).
  2. Enable users to assign special ringtones and alerts to each group
  3. Make each group run like a standalone application, that can be added to your desktop. once clicked, you'll see images of contacts the same way they look on the desktop.
  4. Make shortcuts available in all apps (contacts, phone, conversation)

Nothing special about first 2 points, but the last 2 are features I have never seen. I used features like "favorites" but didn't like to see my friends, family members and co-workers in the same page or screen.


Solution #29: Predictive Dialer

Posted on 2010-01-20 17:54 UTC by Mohammed Issa.

Allow dialer to look-up names using T-9 input and numbers, similar to Windows Mobile dialer.