Every time you type on Windows Phone 7, it plays a subtly different sound

Perhaps one of many reasons why Windows Phone 7 has captured the attention of so many is because it’s taking the iPhone head-on with attention to detail that people have come to expect only from Apple.

During a 30-minute presentation on the topics of “sounds” in Windows Phone 7 by Microsoft’s Matthew Bennett, Senior Sound and Sensory Designer (seriously), there’s a very memorable demo in this that I thought was a prime example of the level of detail it’s come down to for WP7.

It turns out, every time you type on the soft-keyboard in WP7, it’s a subtly different sound. Whereas the iPhone has only one audio sample that it repeats every time you tap on the virtual key, WP7 plays one of eight variations in a loop.

Although it’s ever so slightly different, Matthew claims they’ve done this so its more organic like footsteps down a hallway – the same but different, and less “obnoxious” if you were to press the backspace repeatedly. Matthew also claims feedback from “power typers” suggests the sounds deliver a better tactile experience.

Sounds good to me.

21 insightful thoughts

  1. Games have done that kind of thing for years and it does improve things, however…

    The only sound any phone keypad should make in response to keys is silence. I don’t care if it has 5,000 different keypress sounds; people who don’t turn them off are extremely irritating. (If they want some feedback that a button push was registered, make it vibrate very slightly; that works when you can’t hear the sounds and doesn’t irritate those who can.)

    1. Actually , I like key tones in touchscreens . I used to turn them off in dumbphones, because the tactile feedback is enough for me . But when typing in my HTC Magic I actually like the different sounds it makes.

  2. Kind of interesting to hear their justification behind it, and it makes sense to be honest. Not every key press in a keyboard would sound identical, and it helps when you can have some type of feedback, and noise is easier to implement and probably better accepted than a screen with a spring behind it [however the Blackberry one worked]

  3. They should also integrate haptic feedback to the soft-keyboard. I find that extremely useful on Android. While the sounds in WP7 are great, I would always turn them off to type silently. Isn’t it one of the most important advantages of soft-keyboards that we can type without disturbing others around us?

  4. I think that the sounds are necessary, but the sound that was demonstrated was too soft, IMHO. It suggests ‘imprecise’ to me.

  5. My gosh, how much did they pay to lower the pitch and randomize the frequency by a minor amount? Did they really need a presentation on that?

  6. “WP7 plays one of eight variations in a loop”

    I would expect each key to have an individual sound, ie. backspace should always play the same sound but it should be a different sound to the one that tab makes. Of course 8 variations would still be ok.

  7. I’m actually pretty gutted they didn’t implement this in the final version. It sounds much nicer than what they plumped for in the end.

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