And now, femto-sensitive chameleon Androids

John C. Tanner
11 May 2009

We’ve heard a lot about the promise of femtocells serving as operator-owned home-zones. But the trick is getting users to appreciate the difference beyond their actual location and some cheaper phone calls. And while femto software does let users know when they’re on the home network and what apps are available on it, the UI experience is essentially the same.

Intrinsyc Software and femto vendor Ubiquisys propose something less subtle and (in theory) a little more engaging: a obvious visual cue in the form of a UI that adapts chameleon-like to the user’s location, be it the living room, the office or even specialized local environments like stores and museums.

That’s the pitch behind UX-Zone, a new femto app developed by the two companies that automatically changes the UI of your Android handset as you enter the femto zone.

It’s a deceptively simple idea – you get home and your handset’s UI changes themes. But apply it to the post-iPhone world of widget menus, that means icons on the screen changing from apps you’d normally use on the go to apps you’d want to access at home, such as video streams from your DVR, say.

Upshot: serious location-based personalization that’s supposed to be mobile’s bread-and-butter. Result (in theory): a better UI that encourages more usage on femtos (which, let’s remember, are partly about offloading heavy data traffic off the macro networks to cut costs).

Also worth noting, says Rethink Research analyst Caroline Gabriel, is that the decision to make the app for the sexy but currently rare Android platform isn’t just a case of latching onto a headline-generating OS – it’s also a further vote of confidence for open-source software in the mobile world.

“The more developers can be attracted to creating apps that harness the capabilities of a femto, the more compelling they will be to consumers,” she says.

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