I just ran across this review of the Jitterbug phone and service. It is a MVNO (a virtual mobile phone company) that rides on the Sprint mobile phone service. The added value of Jitterbug is that the phone is designed to be simple (for older adults). In this review, one thing caught my attention:
The trouble with finding a full coverage area, is that the phone doesn’t offer a signal indicator. Instead, you can only tell if you have a signal by opening the phone and listening for a dial tone. If there’s a tone, you can make a call, but it’s hard to know where you can receive calls unless you like to place the phone against your head constantly as you move from one area to another. [emphasis added]
Ingenious! Psychologists/Human factors people are always saying that you should try to leverage the knowledge that your users already have instead of making them learn something new. The Jitterbug is the first phone that I know of that follows this advice. Would I want or need to hear a dial tone? No. But my parents would love it. In fact, they still flip open their phone and put it to their ear to listen for a dial tone before making every call.