Carrying on with my look at how the iPhone's interface compares with Windows Mobile's much derided UI, I'm going to take a look at how Contact handling works with both interfaces and also how that interacts with calling and texting, probably the most important part of a smartphone's duties. Again I'll start each comparison from the default home screen, using vanilla OS installs and measure the amount of interaction required to complete specific tasks. With each task I've looked for the most efficient way of completing it for each OS.
First test: Create a contact.
iPhone: Tap the Contacts icon, tap the plus sign and tap in the name box to enter information, once complete tap Save and move to the next field.
WM: Tap the Contacts softkey, tap the New softkey and enter contact information.
Result: Whilst the process of getting to the new contact form is similar, the iPhone requires each field to be saved before the next can be accessed meaning that to enter a full contact with an address, two phone numbers, an email address and company information requires 16 non-productive interactions as opposed to just three on Windows Mobile.
Second test: Edit email details of an existing contact.
iPhone: Tap the Contacts icon, tap the contact's name, tap the Edit button, tap the red icon beside email, tap delete, tap Add new Email, add details then tap Save.
WM: Tap the Contacts softkey, tap the contact's name, Tap Menu, Tap Edit, enter details, Tap OK.
Result: The iPhone interface means that more interactions are required to complete the task, in this case hampered by the inability to tap in to a field to edit it.
Third test: Take a photo and add it to an existing contact.
iPhone: Tap the Contacts icon, tap the contact's name, tap the Edit button, tap Add Photo, tap Take Photo, press the Shutter button, tap Set Photo, Tap Done (this can also be done by starting from the camera, however it takes the same number of taps)
WM: Press the Camera button, press the shutter button, tap Menu, tap Save To Contacts, select contact.
Result: Windows Mobile makes this a quick straightforward task, whilst the iPhone needs more interaction (and because of two periods of waiting - one for the camera to be ready and one for the photo to save to the contact - the task takes significantly longer to achieve. Its entirely possible to complete the task on WM before the iPhone camera is ready to take a picture)
Fourth test: Send an SMS to a contact.
iPhone: Tap the Contacts icon, tap the contact's name, tap Text Message, select number, enter text, press Send
WM: Tap the Contacts softkey, tap the contact's name, tap Send Text Message, enter text, press send.
Result: Poor layout of information on the iPhone Contact's card means that you have to select a destination number after making the text message request, whilst Windows Mobile handles this in the initial Contact card, again reducing the amount of interaction required to complete a task.
Fifth test: Email a contact.
iPhone: Tap the Contacts icon, tap the contact's name, tap email, edit and send the email.
WM: Tap the Contacts softkey, tap the contact's name, tap Send Email, edit and send the email.
Result: Almost identical processes.
Sixth test: Call a number.
iPhone: Tap Phone icon, tap keypad, dial number, press Call.
WM: Press Call button, dial number, Press Call button.
Result: An extra tap is required to open the keypad on the iPhone.
Seventh test: Call a contact.
iPhone: Tap the Contacts icon, tap the contact's name, tap the number you wish to dial.
WM: WM: Tap the Contacts softkey, tap the contact's name, tap the number you wish to dial.
Result: Almost identical processes.
Again its not difficult to see that, as far as user interaction is concerned, the iPhone's interface lags far behind Windows Mobile. For the most common contact tasks there is a small gap in useabilty, however as the task becomes more complex the iPhone makes it much more complex to complete. Fortunately the iPhone performs poorest in the areas which are less commonly used. Once more its clear that in terms or raw usability Microsoft have achieved much more than most commentators would give them credit for.