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There seem to be an *awful* lot of smartphones
coming out these days, especially those of the
Android variety, which lack physical dial/end call keys.
On the Android system, what you usually have is a
physical volume rocker, a physical power key, and 3-4
capacitive touch keys along the bottom
capacitive touchscreen. Very few modern
smartphones have resistive touchscreens.
When receiving a call or making a call on such a device,
the only current method possible is to manipulate the
touchscreen, which requires either being barehanded,
wearing special gloves, using a capactive stylus, or
looking like a damned fool using your nose. Normally,
this wouldn't be a problem. It *becomes* a problem in
the colder months in northern locales when taking the
time to remove a glove to answer your phone can
result in missing a call, and you have to either leave
your glove off the whole time so you can end the call
when you want to, or put the glove back on and
remove it again when you want to end the call.
Come on, we can do better than this! We have the
technology... we can revamp it.
My idea is twofold. First, it addresses the difficulty in
answering incoming calls, and on an Android phone
(hence the subtitle) should be easy to implement
because apps frequently make changes to the
functionality of the various keys on the device.
When receiving a call, you simply click the power key,
which activates the voice command function. Simply
say 'Answer' or 'Decline' to answer or decline the call.
When you are ready to end a call (this is where the
title comes into play), simply pull the phone away from
your ear. The proximity sensor detects this and lights
up the screen (this behavior is already standard on
many Android models), automatically mutes the call ,
and also activates the voice command function. Simply
say 'Resume' or 'End Call'.
The whole feature set is enabled/disabled via the
standard call settings menu.
||I wonder if it would be possible to recognise an ear - either using the camera or the touch screen. That way, simply raising it to your ear (when it's ringing) would answer. The voice command might still be a good idea, though.
|| Using a physical button to activate voice command might be a good idea in general, not just for answering.
||The other day, T.G.F.J. and I were riding a chairlift up to
the top of a ski slope when she did something slightly
startling. It was quite cold and she didn't want to take of
her gloves but, alas, it was absolutely vital that some
adjustment be made to her mp3 player before the next
run, and the touch-screen only works with bare skin...
|| Well, let's just say that dangling from a steel cable halfway
up a snow-covered mountain is the last place I would have
expected to catch my wife licking her iPod.
||I though about the ear recognition, which would be
simple enough for phones with front-facing cameras.
Certainly a system such as Android 4.0's Face Unlock
feature could be used to recognize not only an ear, but
possibly specific ears. The difficulty arises when
wearing a hood, hat, earmuffs, balaclava, or long hair.
|| Alter, tell her I commend her ingenuity, but would
recommend the nose instead of the tongue.
||Except if I take the phone away from my ear to look
something up on it, or put it on speaker, I don't
want it to hang up.
|| Also, iPhones have a hard hang up button, the power
button will do it (not the home button).
||I'll tell her, but I don't think she'll listen. Very set in her
strange ways, you see...
||@ Mech, Well then you say 'Speaker' and do what
like. I kinda figure if you're going to be doing more
than simply making/receiving calls, you're gonna
off the glove anyway. I suppose the voice
function can work by tapping the power key while
you're on a call, without muting the mic, but unless
muted it's going to sound weird to whoever you're
|| One innovative way to overcome the multitasking
issue is to have the power key enter Walkie-Talkie
mode as soon as an active call is initiated. Hold
down the power key to mute the mic and say a
voice command, and release it to unmute the mic.
|| I dislike the automatic power key hangup, though. If
you drop the phone and it lands top-down, or if you
tap the power key while fumbling to catch it,
you've lost your call. If you try pulling it out of your
pocket and bump that key while trying to answer an
incoming call, you're similarly screwed.
||My (very old and non-smart) cell phone has
voice-activated functions, which come in quite handy when
the screen craps out. I can call any number on my contacts
list, answer incoming calls, end a call, and do a number of
other things which I've temporarily forgotten about, all by
in a loud and progressively more irritated voice until the
damn thing understands me. Has this ultra-convenient
function simply gone out of vogue, or are modern phones
too smart for such shenanigans?
||I believe my phone has a feature which I've never tried out, that it can answer a call by flipping it. The accelerometer detects the sudden rotation. Probably not the best thing to try with thick gloves on though.
||A lot of flip phones have that option, mit. Most flip
phones, however, also have physical send/end keys
and are not smartphones.
|| <Later, after some thought> Or did you mean a
touchscreen smartphone that you turn over? <L, ast>
||I don't even have a smartphone (I have a cheap gophone that I only turn on when I want to make a call) but I can see the advantages of this. But change the title to "voice activation button" and the usefulness multiplies amazingly.
|| It wouldn't have to recognize an ear though. It's a capacitive surface, it could recognize when your skin is no longer against it. And the choice to "resume" or "end" is good - when I started reading this article I thought, "oh wait, what if you wanted to put the phone down but didn't want to end the call," but triggering a hold while it waits for a voice command to either resume or end the call is good.
|| I'll send you a bun through the 4G network.
||This addresses one of my biggest pet peeves about my Android. Bun here.
||I don't have a lot of pet peeves with Android, but this
is definitely one of the few UI quirks almost universal
to capacitive touchscreen phones.