Nokia has a wonderful thing going on in the Nokia N9: you swipe to exit apps, and double tap to wake up the phone. This is the kind of thing that really makes the N9 a pleasure to use; it’s so addictive I was swiping the screen of the Lumia 800 as soon I started using it. SwipeUI is natural, is intuitive, it’s brilliant. It’s the kind of thing that is obvious but no one had seen before; like the capacitive touchscreen and the App Store as the two pillars of the modern smartphone. SwipeUI doesn’t only bring interface improvements, it eliminates the need for buttons and provides more screen real state in smaller frames; think about it, the Lumia 800’s screen could have been slightly bigger had those three button not been there.
But the fact that SwipeUI is awesome is not the only reason why Nokia should implement this on their Windows Phone devices. Nokia needs to give reasons their Windows Phone devices are different to the point there’s no doubt. Navigation is not enough, nor is Music and the ESPN app. I am a college student; I am not going anywhere in a car for the next four years of my life, and I don’t care that much about sports to the point I would need an ESPN app. However, if Nokia Windows Phone devices had SwipeUI, there’s a tangible and interface-wide difference between a Nokia WP and a Samsung or HTC; anyone who picks up a Nokia device will realize without the need to explain anything that the phone they hold in their hands is different–there’s no buttons! It’s all-screen! The Nokia-Windows Phone differentiation debate would be over, for good.
It’s easy to make an argument that Nokia already has enough differentiation with design, camera, Nokia Drive, and other things; it does, these services are special and unique. But it’s still not absolutely undebatable, a Windows Phone would feel more like a Nokia if it had SwipeUI.
Simple Idea: there are two buttons you really need, back and home. Swiping from left to right replaces the back button, swiping from right to left replaces the home button. Multitasking is done swiping from left to right (back button gesture) and holding; which could oppen an Ice Cream Sandwich like multitasking view. Bing search? Place it in a tile and be done with it, or possibly a up-down swipe like pulling a notification bar on certain platforms.