Given that mobile phones have been irritating to use for years, I had a couple of ideas that might make them more appealing. They are based on two aspects of SMS texting that I liked: texts aren’t conversations and texts are cheaper.
An advantage of texting is that you don’t have to get into a conversation with someone. They are like telegrams: you send someone a piece of information you think they should receive. No conversation necessary. Given the I couldn’t be bothered to put the time in to get quick enough at texting, I liked the idea of being able to leave someone a message – even if their phone wasn’t going to voicemail. How about calling someone, but pressing a special digit on your phone which caused their phone not to ring, but for you to be put through to their voicemail. That means you can deliver the message without having a discussion: one of the advantages of texting. Twitter grew out of the idea of sharing one short message with groups of people without having a series of individual conversations.
The other main advantage of texting is price: it’s very cheap to send people texts. My other idea was to have a speech to text system that would convert my spoken message into a text to be sent. The more you use your phone, the more accurate the text to speech would get, especially as phone calls have very specific structures and vocabularies.
What if a mobile phone had an audio interface to Twitter? That means you could join in the conversation while you are on the move, either walking or driving (using a hands-free kit). Speech to text would convert your thoughts into Tweets, if you pause it could give you a character count update. You could use simple voice commands to edit. Summarising software could suggest alternative ways of saying the same thing in 140 characters.
The other side of Twitter could also work as audio only. Imagine if each Twitter profile could also hold a phoneme database that audio-based Twitter software could use to simulate the voice of the person that tweeted.
In the coming years more services will be audio only, so maybe it’s best to start with the simplest, such as Twitter.
13 January followup: A service has been launched that relates to this. Jott works by calling a special telephone number – the processing isn’t done on the phone even though they do have a BlackBerry application (they have an iPhone application, but it temporarily unavailable).