but the "floating finger" is just begging to send pocket messages.
Sony today introduced an Android smartphone, the Xperia Sola, that you can can control without touching. The latest Sony handset features a "floating touch" navigation system, which detects hovering fingers as a cursor on the display and lets users surf the web without physically touching the screen. Until you need to click …
I don't think so. Just held my phone loosely and did a few thumb swipes and actions without trying to touch the screen and it felt perfectly natural and comfortable. Support your phone on your fingertips and one edge in the crook of your hand (i.e. where the bases of your fingers meet your palm) and your thumb doesn't naturally reach the screen.
As for thumb ache, you'll be using exactly the same actions and less energy.
I can see some use for that. Using the BBC mobile sport site can be a pain, as the text is fairly small for big fingers, and clicking on the wrong link isn't unusual. Being able to see which link you're going to click before pressing is a good idea.
Presume you still have to touch the screen to scroll etc, so no problem with holding your finger floating in mid air for long periods.
Do you think this phone was created, engineered, prototyped and tested in 3 months?
It takes a while to get a phone to market and if all the hardware drivers, software and testing has been done on an older version it might not be so simple just to put the latest version on when it is released. Sony probably have about 10 phones that they are currently working on with timetables for release and they can only develop them with currently available software.
The Nexus phones will be used for the actual testing of the next Android release and therefore when it is available it will already be guaranteed to work and available for the latest Nexus phone.
What I'd like to see is phones get announced, then be availably (ideally SIM free) within the month. Now admittedly this particular device is drop-dead gorgeous and top of my latest shopping list, but generally a phone is a phone. I really can't get excited about waiting three or more months, by which time something even shinier will have been announced for another three months later.
I see they've appropriated the Jobs lexicon:
"This smartphone is magical, and no I don’t mean ‘rabbit-out-of the hat’, ‘cards across the table’ like frolics – it includes the amazing “floating touch”, allowing you to magically search and navigate the web."
See, this is why Apple are suing you, not Sony. Sony are using a popular design technique called "not just slavishly copying everything Apple does to the extent that your own corporate lawyer can't tell the difference between an Apple iPad and your own, rival, product". The technical jargon for this technique is, "innovation".
Granted, the GUi in this Sony phone could use some more tweaking—hovering a finger over a hyperlink should probably do something a bit more visible than merely adding a thin underscore, for example—but it's a genuinely useful technical user experience innovation that could provide Sony with a unique advantage over Apple.
Something you, Samsung, have singularly failed to do.
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