Mobile Usability

(L-R) Michael Sauers, Krista Burns, Jim Hahn

(L-R) Michael Sauers, Krista Burns, Jim Hahn

Things you may not know that you can do with your mobile device

Many of  these can be done with a simple mobile phone, a sophisticated web browing phone is not required.  (Make sure you have an unlimited data plan or you will get a huge bill!)

  • Send a text message to Google (phone 46645 which is GOOGL) and get an answer back.   Good for finding local restaurants, etc.
Examples of Google text message queries

Examples of Google text message queries

  • Send a text message to an e-mail address.  (Good for sending a reference question to libraries)
  • Text Amazon to search for books, compare prices with those of a bookstore, and buy them.
  • Use LibraryThing Mobile to check if you already own a book.
  • Read a Wikipedia article using their special mobile interface.
  • Use eBuddy Lite Messanger to get a Web interface to search engines.
  • Install Google Maps for Mobiles to get directions, etc.  (If you have a GPS enabled phone, you don’t need to tell it where you are.)  You can even get traffic and street views (don’t use while driving!).
  • Photograph barcodes and use them on scanners, library checkouts, etc.

Encyclopodia has developed Sourceforge software for loading Wikipedia on iPods.  How would university students use such a service?  Jim Hahn from the University of Illinois did a research project that surveyed students who used such iPods.  Resuts were:

  • Students used the devices mainly for recreational questions.
  • Average use of the iPod was once or  twice a month, with heaviest usage in the first month of the term.
  • One student used the iPod to do research for a paper.
  • Power was drained quickly, and when it ran low, the date and time were automatically reset.

Mobile device services are rapidly advancing;  we can expect to see many similar studies in the future.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information  Today and CIL 2009 Blog Coordinator

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