Sometimes you see something and wonder, “What were they thinking.” Sometimes this is an obvious thing — many people see it. Other times, a sign or direction sits there quietly mocking the world and only a few people notice it. I’m generally one of the few, but this particular example should be fairly obvious to everyone — maybe except the author.
There really is a huge amount of software for the n900 (see my earlier post if you don’t know what it is). Partly this could be due to the fact that the target market for the device is firmly within the geek with programming skills realm. Maybe a similar product will be popular with everyone — we can certainly hope, but right now, the things that the device are offering are decidedly geeky.
While scanning some of the games available for the platform (I found a nice ScummVM, a bejeweled clone and a nethack implementation), I found one I just had to download and try (very carefully): n900fly. This application uses the accelerometer embedded in the device to determine how long the device is in freefall and uses that to calculate how high you threw the device.
Now, while I managed to get a better deal by far, the list price of this device is $550-ish Canadian Dollars. And while it’s fairly hardy and its build feels very solid, I can’t imagine that the engineers meant for you to throw it very often… if at all.
Accelerometers and tilt gauges are put in modern devices for many reasons. They certainly increased in popularity after the Wii came out. In the camera app, for instance, if you’re looking at a picture and flip it over to a friend across the table, the device turns the picture upside down (so your friend sees it right side up). This flipping around goes to extreme levels in the Jobs demonstration of the ipad. The n900 has applications that let it be a level or an angle meter (which use the tilt gauge). Other than assisting the GPS (does it?), I can’t imagine too many useful things to be done with the accelerometer. Maybe this application is the only thing the developer could think of for the accelerometer… and he felt that he just had to play with it. There’s a road paved with good intentions…
But someone thought that this application was a good idea. I suppose it would also track your progress if you fell off a cliff… if either of you and it survive, that is. I acknowledge that there are better coordinated geeks than I. Some of these people could probably throw the phone quite high many times before fumbling it. Still… it’s an awfully expensive eventual fumble.