At first glance the Sony Ericsson Aino interface is just like all the other Sony Ericsson phones you might have seen in the past two year or so. But much like with Sony Ericsson Yari, the interface has had its share of updates. Most of them are the same as the ones we described in the Yari preview, while others are specific to Aino and its semi-touchscreen input method.
As usual the user interface is Flash-based with all the visual eye-candy implied. Let's just say that it would be hard to find a better looking or more customizable feature phone interface than the one on Sony Ericsson phones - especially now that it has just been updated again.
Beyond the familiar part of the Aino interface that you may see on the screenshots in almost all of our recent Sony Ericsson reviews, there is something else - and quite unexpected too.
It's the new Media menu, which is… controlled by touch. What's even more - the only way to interact with it is by touch, so if you slide the keyboard open for example, thinking of little D-pad action there, you would be out of luck. In such cases the new Media menu just closes immediately by itself. Now we are not quite sure if this should be the planned behavior of the menu, but that's the way it is at this point.
Looking closer at the new touch interface, you may find quite a lot of similarities with the Sony PlayStation 3 or the Sony PSP interface. And that's not a coincidence. The Sony Ericsson Aino is expected to have compatibility with the PS3 console. It will use the new function Remote Play, which was initially created for PSP. It allows you to control your PlayStation 3 or browse its multimedia content via your Aino.
Another novelty in wireless connectivity is the new way to interact with your desktop-installed Media Go software. With Sony Ericsson Aino you will also be able to download multimedia content from your desktop library over the air thanks to the Media Home service which uses a Wi-Fi connection.
At this stage the new touch interface is attractive but still clumsy, and we expect that to be fixed further on in the development process. After all, we have a pre-production unit on our hands here.
The touch interface is home to the camera, the FM radio, the gallery, the Walkman and the video player. Both players have some submenus for the playlists, recently added, resume button, etc.
We liked the idea of the touch-enabled multimedia menu, but touch-enabling the whole user interface seems a much nicer option to us. But again, that would bring up numerous other challenges that will need solving.