On Monday, Sprint took the wraps off a phone called the Echo, which will be manufactured by Kyocera, powered by the Android 2.2 OS, sold for about $200 – with a contract – and set to hit shelves sometime this spring. The kicker here is that the Echo, unlike other Kyocera phones, will ship with two screens, both of which can be used to run all sorts of applications, from Facebook to an email client.
Sprint says the two screens let the Echo carry out unique functions. Among them: the "Simul-Task" mode (and yes, that name is patented), which can run two apps concurrently, on different screens; the "Optimized" mode, which uses both screens to run the same app; and the "Tablet" mode, where "one application spread across both displays for a full 4.7-inch viewing area."
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In an interview with Computerworld, Sprint exec David Owens cited a recent market survey, which showed that 70 percent of people "are watching TV in bed while doing some other activity on a laptop or texting on a phone." In addition, 50 to 60 percent of young users regularly multitask on their electronic devices. It's this "hyper-tasking" culture that the Kyocera Echo will enter, Owens said.
We won't argue with that – smartphone users do an awful lot of downloading, video watching, talking, and texting, often all at the same time. But in our humble opinion, the Kyocera doesn't answer our urge to "hyper-task" as much as complicate it. We like a smartphone that has the capability to juggle multiple apps – the new iPhone does this, for instance – without making us feel like our head is about to explode.
We don't necessarily need two screens. We just need one screen, done well.