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DOS-like Interface for Smartphones - Dilbert Blog

DOS-like Interface for Smartphones

Are you old enough to remember the DOS operating system? Users had to enter commands in text form. It seems so primitive now. But I predict a return to text interfaces, this time on your smartphone.

I love my smartphone but I find it annoying to hunt for the right app icon to do a simple task such as send a message or make a note to myself. I want a Smartphone with a Preloader interface, a term I just invented. It’s a blank box and keyboard for data entry that is always your first screen. Instead of first specifying which application you want to use, such as messaging, email, phone, etc., you simply use a simple text code and start working. For example, if you want to send an email to Bob, you type into the empty box:
—————————————————————-
e bob about borrowed lawnmower

Hi Bob,

Please return my lawnmower. Have a nice day.

Scott
—————————————————————–
Your smartphone would recognize “e bob” to be a shortcut for “email the guy named Bob in my address book.” The subject line would be whatever followed “about” on the same line.

When you’re done typing your message, click “submit” and it brings up your email app populated with your message and Bob’s email address, or options for selecting which Bob you want. If everything looks good, you press Send.

The main idea here is that you should be able to start doing your work before you choose the app. The content of the message will tell your smartphone which app you intend.

Some one-letter text commands for the preloader might include:

E = email

T= text

N = note

C = calendar

W = weather

P = phone

V = voicemail

If you want to enter an appointment in your calendar, just type “c staff meeting 9am Tuesday Aug 26 alert 1 hour”. Your calendar app will pop up and you can confirm it entered the appointment correctly.

Do you want the hourly weather forecast for Baltimore? Just type “w Baltimore hour” into your preloader. It’s much faster than opening the app first, looking for the box to enter the city then clicking the hourly option.

The way my brain is wired I always want to jump right into a task before I hunt for an app. I often accidently choose my text messaging icon instead of email, cancel the texting app, open email, choose the addressee box, type addressee, choose subject, and so on. The process feels inefficient and it bugs me every time. I want to start working immediately, while a thought is fresh in my mind. Only after I have done my work do I want the phone to deduce which app I intended.

Voice recognition apps already do this sort of thing. But 80% of the time that I use my phone I’m someplace where speaking aloud would be awkward or unwise. I want a text interface to speed things up.

Does that already exist?