T-Mobile Sidekick’s jump button makes mobile multitasking easy

Before the iPhone, before Android, before webOS, revolutionary mobile soap bars made things incredibly easy. The Danger Hiptop (better known as the T-Mobile Sidekick) makes the internet portable and affordable like never before with a phone.

It introduced cloud syncing long before iCloud, popularized unlimited data and real-world web browsing on mobile devices, and used its capabilities to make instant messaging and email a breeze. Horizontal hardware keyboard.

But the Sidekick doesn’t get enough recognition for the one physical button that ties the entire phone together: the jump button.

Most people remember the rotating screen, but Sidekick is much more than that.
Photo by Sean Hollister/The Verge

On modern phones, opening an app often means clicking on a notification or looking for the right home screen icon. Doyou must lookBefore Sidekick, “hunting and pecking” was also harder than it is now: that meant physically pressing with a stylus on a resistive Palm Pilot or Windows Mobile touch screen.

But in 2002, Hiptop’s jump button turned multitasking into muscle memory. Every Sidekick comes with preset and programmable keyboard shortcuts that let you “jump” into any application.

I would type my notes in the middle of a college classroom, Jump+B to go into my web browser to look up something, Jump+N to go back to my notepad, Jump+I to chat with friends on AOL Instant Messenger, and then Jump+E to email after class. Email notes to yourself. My thumbs never left the keys.

Jump + B will open a web browser. Unfortunately, I can’t find a battery or charger for this old phone.
Photo by Sean Hollister/The Verge

It was so convenient that I ended up taking most of my college notes on the Sidekick II – maybe all of them except Japanese.

Oddly, T-Mobile hasn’t put much effort into explaining the Sidekick’s potential for seamless task switching. Real people know it, but in official user manuals, the Jump button is almost always described as a glorified Home button. “Pressing JUMP takes you back to the jump screen, which is the starting point for launching all applications on your device,” reads a typical example.

I did find these jump shortcuts on page 38 of the 2003 manual.
Picture: Danger

But former Danger design director Matías Duarte continues: Design network operating system and Google Android look and feel, told me that Jump is by no means just a replacement for Home.It is designed to chordal, press multiple keys at once to unlock its potential. “That’s really the power of it, to make it more than just a home button, if you will.”

“We work on them, we rely on them,” he said of the keyboard shortcuts. “Danger files bug reports, schedules meetings, chats in ICQ and email, copies them into notes, all from Hiptop itself.” “That’s because I take Caltrain every day into the city,” Duarte said.

“Jump” actually appeared on the original Jump button of the first-generation Danger Hiptop / T-Mobile Sidekick.
Photo by Matias Duarte

Initially, the Jump key was created to allow you to jump in and out of mobile app notifications, which was fairly novel at the time. “There’s no concept of starting a program and exiting a program.” You can jump to notifications and then jump back to what you were doing. “

He said that unlike handheld computers, BlackBerrys and flip phones of the day, the Sidekick didn’t kill apps when they were closed and had “a true multitasking architecture” where they could continue running in the background and connect to the Internet. (Every cell phone does this today.)

He said of the notification lights on other phones: “The most advanced notifications always feel like they’re annoying lights that don’t respect you, so it’s important that they pop up, with a banner, to let you know they’re there.” From who. If you care about it, you can jump to it, if you ignore it, you don’t have to jump to it. Together they solve the problem of users actually not being disturbed and instead multitasking efficiently.”

A former Danger engineer discovered this original Sidekick II in a souvenir box.
Photo by Sean Hollister/The Verge

But Duarte isn’t surprised, since the jump button is billed as something much simpler, simply a way to return to the home screen where you can use Sidekick’s dial to scroll through apps – because the button does These two things should be done. Our philosophy is that we want to make it really easy to use, but we don’t think that making it easy to use takes away from its functionality. “

For simplicity, it’s called “Jump”. “We wanted to make something for the average person, where you don’t need to understand any concepts of startup, quitting or multitasking.”

Jump isn’t the only button that offers chord keyboard shortcuts to Sidekick power users. You can cut, copy, paste, jump to a specific chat, or start a new email without launching the email client (and pre-filling it with the text you just copied)! ) First press and hold the Menu key.

Duarte said he had a hard time justifying adding a menu button because he was trying to keep the phone simple — but the danger is return trying to stay cheap, only Giving you buttons and a one-dimensional scroll wheel instead of buying an expensive (for the time) touch screen. Repeatedly spinning and clicking the wheel to select each command seems demanding on the user.

“That’s why we need menu buttons: so we don’t have to always drill in and out of everything,” he said.

Above: T-Mobile’s Sidekick animated ad campaign hints at task switching without explicitly showing shortcuts.

Sidekick died tragically in the end and was abandoned by celebrities Paris Hilton’s phone hackedshunned by some users New owner Microsoft loses massive user data in server failureand people like me were replaced by Android (importantly, it was created Designed by the same people who launched Hiptop).

But many of Danger’s useful keyboard shortcuts remain until todayWhen I bought my first Android phone, I found them waiting for me like old friends. Squinting, I noticed a small magnifying glass key on the T-Mobile G1’s sliding keyboard. I pressed Search+B, saw a web browser pop up, and grinned.

My T-Mobile G1 was originally an HTC Dream, the first Android phone.
Photo by Sean Hollister/The Verge

For more information on Danger Hiptop I recommend Co-founder Joe Britt’s 2007 Stanford University speech About how it was built, Article by Chris DeSalvo its innovations and review from mr mobile and Unlocker.

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