Terrible status indicators


Right by the signal strength indicator on my Blackberry, there’s a little readout that says things like “EDGE”, “GSM”, etc. The basic idea is that you can see what sort of coverage you have, since EDGE provides faster speeds than GSM/GPRS. But here’s where it gets stupid: when the letters appear in lowercase (e.g. “edge”), it means you can make phone calls, but not use data applications like the web browser.

If the display showed the network type and then had some other way to tell you when data service isn’t available, I wouldn’t have much of a problem with it. But as it stands, the “lowercase means no data” thing is ridiculous. It took months before I figured this out, and I still don’t like it.

Here’s a better idea that combines the detailed network status with something that regular people can understand. Keep the GSM/EDGE thing just like it is, but put little icons for phone and Internet right next to it. Then, have these appear in green when both are working, and red with a little X when they’re not. This preserves the detail for advanced users who know what the network types mean, while giving normal people a way to see if voice and data are working.