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Sony Working on "Gamified" Smartphone User Interface

Pál Szász, a Software Developer at Sony, recently updated Sony's blog with news that he's working on a new smartphone user interface (UI) called EvolutionUI.

The main goal of this project is to introduce gamification in the smartphone UI. Take an RPG for example. The player starts out with a stick, but eventually levels up to carry heavy armor, a shield and a sweeping sword. EvolutionUI does the same thing. It starts the user out with simple controls and builds layers of features as the end user becomes more experienced with the phone.

"In the EvolutionUI project, our main idea was to isolate advanced features and disable them at start," Szász writes. "For example, when a user starts an Android device for the first time, one desktop panel will probably be enough for a while. Also there is no need to be able to create folders or shortcuts for applications, since there won't be too many applications installed in the first couple of days. To have a lot of widgets on the desktop might also be confusing."

With EvolutionUI, the device owner starts out with only one Home screen displaying a clock widget and four core applications including phone, messages, Chrome and the camera. This screen is locked so the user doesn't delete an app by mistake. But as the user gets familiar with the basic functionality and learns how to use it, more features are unlocked and the phone gets more and more advanced.

So how does this approach work? If the device owners have started five applications after having started the phone, the user will get an "Achievement." These achievements will unlock features as a reward. "The features of the phone are unlocked step by step, in the same pace as the user learns how to use the phone. This makes the learning of the phone much easier, and a lot more fun as well," he says.

The main component of EvolutionUI is a core service called "EvolutionUIService," which keeps track of the phone usage. As an example, this service will record the number of applications that have been started. Each application that intends to use this service can publish its own set of experiences, features and achievements by using an XML resource.

"The EvolutionUIService will then aggregate all the features and achievements from all the applications and keep track of the user's overall progress," he writes. "It's up to all connected applications to notify the EvolutionUIService about actions performed by the user. Each application that is connected to the EvolutionUI concept then reports its experiences to the EvolutionUIService. The core service keeps count of these experiences."

To read the whole blog post, head here. However, based on the information here, this user interface would be ideal for first-time Android users. Yet because this is an internal research project, don't expect this platform to be used by smartphone hardware any time soon. Still, it's a cool idea.