Tiny Email - A Mobile Phone E-Mail App

This document describes a UI for Tiny Email, as it may be implemented in a proxy server working with a SIM card or embedded application.

A Tiny Email client emphasizes receiving the gist of important emails. Tiny Email has limited email management and creation tools. Tiny Email's features are terse, understandable, and limited.

Tiny Email is designed for a small device with extremely limited memory, small screen, and phone keypad.

The Tiny Email User

The Tiny Email user wants to keep in touch with their email INBOX. She would use Tiny Email in one of two modes. The two modes differ in when she wants to know about her email:

  1. At particular time(s) of day.

  2. As emails arrive at her post office.

Technically, these two modes of operation are differentiated by whether email arrival alerts are set to ON or OFF. In one mode, emails silently arrive at the phone. In the other mode, emails cause a phone to beep and alert the user in the same way that SMS messages do.

Normally, the Tiny Email user will not respond to email, nor will she want to manipulate the email. Her PC email client program is far better than her phone for doing these things.

When the Tiny Email user does respond to an email, she will not craft a long, nuanced response. A typical reply to an email might be,

"OK" Or, "Thinking. Will reply later" Or, "Call me at 987 234 5678" Tiny Email provides many pre-built replies of this sort so that the Tiny Email user can simply select a reply from a list.

User Scenarios

These images of a Tiny Email user may help to capture the essence of the system's use-model:

Essential Features / Core System Values



Since one of the two major modes of operation causes an audio/visual alert on the phone, the Tiny Email user will be pleased if Tiny Email filters irrelevant emails for her.



Since a Tiny Email user will want to quickly note emails rather than examining them in detail, the Tiny Email user will be pleased if Tiny Email "distills" each email down to its essence.


One Finger Operation

Since Tiny Email runs on a small phone, the user should be able to operate Tiny Email with her thumb. The first choice in any menu is generally the most common operation. The UI is skewed toward repetitive presses of one key.

Tiny Email's filtering and compression functions provide the main opportunities for product differentiation and added value. As these two functions become more mature and sophisticated:

  1. The Tiny Email server increases in value.

  2. The barrier to entry to competing systems becomes higher.

Functionality options are discussed at the bottom of this document.


Tiny Email Alerting indicator --- Current mail counts

Start Tiny Email

Stop Tiny Email

Please press Select to stop Tiny Email.
Thank you.

Tiny Email Settings

Recent Mail List

As much as can fit in one line on the screen is shown in the list. "View" soft key selects a particular, individual email.

From address: could have @aol.com stripped from it.

Attachment indicator: Extension/type with file name?

List order: Most recent emails at the top, unviewed emails above viewed emails. In the list, the next email should be highlighted and immediately selectable (this viewed email would be positioned after unviewed emails).

Soft keys:

Individual email is shown:

Time/Date of email

Soft keys:

From/Sbj... - Mail Options menu

Call "From:" address

Filter From/Sbj...

Filter mail such as this from your phone in the future?

Soft keys: Cancel and OK.

Go to View Recent Mail.

Move To Old Mail From/Sbj...

Move this mail in to your AOL Old Mail box?

Soft keys: Cancel and OK.

Go to View Recent Mail.

Send / Forward Mail To:

Go to Create Mail Contents.

Mail Contents - Reply / Create Mail

Functionality Discussion

What's wrong with the UI concept given here:

Here are some other functions that could go in to a Tiny Email system:

Here are some general observations and questions:


Show the Call option only if there are phone numbers that can be called? The numbers can come from the AOL UAB or the full email text - the sig, especially.

If this option is to be shown whether there are phone numbers or not, then, when there is no number to call, it might make sense to offer the most recently called numbers as choices.

In any case, the server needs to be in control of this logic. It takes far too much processing for a phone client to handle, and requires knowledge that only the server possesses.

Show More

The Show More function relaxes the email's compression by one stage of compression.

When the user chooses this function, the system auto-adjusts by giving the user less compression in the future.

Over time, the system increases the compression level. The Show More function balances that on-going process.

simcardui.htm :
bar January 30, 2003  Text changes
bar December 3, 2002  Change some more function and soft key names
bar December 2, 2002  Remove Delete function
Add Call function
Fix some soft keys to minimize user confusion
bar November 21, 2002  New name for filtering in mail disposition menu.
  bar  November 12, 2002