Is usability testing prior to release a lost art for smart phone software? This is a big month for new phone launches -- first Nokia and Microsoft, then iPhone, then Android. Wonder how well they'll all work? Here’s an arcane little item from a now-dated phone: If you accidentally or on purpose double tap the Home symbol on a Droid 2, the device thinks you want to speak and so a female voice barks at you "PLEASE say a command." (This is with the phone set on silent.) Arrgghh. The fix, after slogging around the Droid forums, is of course obvious, if you know where to look: remap the double tap on home to do something else, like launch a browser. Of course, why didn't I think of that? Thanks to the Internet, a stupid and obscure flaw that baffles the user (see those Internet posts dating back a few years) has a stupid fix. Meantime, until you find that fix, your device starts talking cheerfully and insistently from a purse or at a hushed banquet table – “PLEASE SAY A COMMAND!” while you look around embarrassed and a bit terrified, trying to turn the phone off, pull the battery, anything but the phone speaking when you called for silence. PLEASE, you just want it to shut up. This irritation has even spawned an app called HomeSmack to overcome this flaw. Perfect. And how charmingly-named.
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