Despite the heavy press coverage of smartphone operating systems like iPhone and Android, sometimes the most intriguing mobile innovations come from other companies. Case in point: Nokia’s newly released “bots” for its Nokia N97 line of handsets. These four individual software programs run in the background, learning your mobile habits by passively collecting data on how you use your phone. After gaining a sense of your daily tasks and routines, the bots personalize your phone, doing everything from rearranging your applications based on usage to automating the switch between mobile profiles. Incredible!

Four Smart Bots

There are four distinct mobile bots now available as a bundled download here from Nokia Labs, the community site featuring beta, non-commercialized programs for Nokia handsets.

Currently, the collection includes the following:

  • Profile Bot: This bot automates switching between mobile profiles – like switching to “silent” mode when you’re in a meeting and switching back to normal mode when the meeting is over. The bot can be configured to suggest profile changes that can be activated with a single click or it can be set to full automation.
  • Alarm Bot: The alarm bot learns when you go to bed and when you wake up. At night, the bot suggests alarms and profile changes via your homescreen. With a single click, you can set the phone to silent mode and create a new alarm to wake you in the morning. 
  • Shortcut Bot: The shortcut bot learns what mobile applications you use the most and updates your homescreen accordingly. The bot reconfigures your phone’s homescreen to feature shortcuts to your most frequently used applications. As your habits change, the bot updates these links.
  • Battery Bot: This bot keeps an eye on your battery’s status. If your battery needs a recharge before bedtime, you’re reminded to plug it in.

In combination, what these bots deliver is a more adaptive UI and mobile phone experience. As your behaviors change, the bots learn and their suggestions change. More importantly, you don’t have to configure these bots – they figure everything out on their own.

Currently, the bots work on Nokia N97 and Nokia N97 Mini handsets only.

Smarter Smartphones: The Future of Mobile?

Although these bots are still in beta, they represent the course mobile smartphones should be taking – and not just Nokia smartphones, either. With over 160,000 iPhone applications now available, 20,000 some Android apps and thousands more in the app stores for Palm, Windows and Blackberry, we’re getting overwhelmed by our mobile options. How brilliant an idea is it that your phone should learn your behaviors then organize your apps for you? That would be a major improvement over, say, the iPhone’s DIY app organization tools.

And while Android’s AudioManager widget is a handy way to get one-touch access to your phone’s volume settings, how much better would it be if your phone automatically knew when to go silent?

That being said, we have seen some interesting patents receive approval for iPhone – like its location-aware homescreen or location-based social networking for example. However, we actually haven’t seen any improvements to the OS that would result in an adaptive phone that learns from our behaviors. (Of course, who knows what Apple has in store for the future?)

Smartphone makers should take a cue from Nokia’s innovation and expand the meaning of the word “smartphone.” It’s time for manufactures to build devices that don’t just run apps but that run apps that make the phone itself smarter. Why not take advantage of geo-location’s power, learn from user behaviors and enable one-click features that take the place of manual configurations? That’s what a true “smartphone” would do. And maybe one day, all will. Until then, Nokia users, prepare to be envied – get your new bots here.

Don’t miss the ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit on May 7th in Mountain View, California! We’re at a key point in the history of mobile computing right now – we hope you’ll join us, and a group of the most innovative leaders in the mobile industry, to discuss it.