Zumobi (formerly ZenZui), a spin-off from Microsoft Research, is launching the beta of its mobile application with a user interface called Tiles, on December 14th. The first beta will be for Windows Mobile.
You can check-out a Flash-based demo of the Tiles interface.
The Zumobi application looks like a version of another popular tiles-based interface - iGoogle. The special touch is the zooming function controlled by the cell phone's number keys. You start with a home screen which has 16 tiles arranged in a 4 by 4 square (picture above). Each tile is a gadget or widget (should we call them midgets for mobile phones?). You can then press different number keys to zoom into a group of 4 tiles and then zoom down to a single tile. Other functions like zooming out, scrolling and tile-specific functions are also mostly number-key based. Nice and simple. I have to say this interface is certainly much better than Yahoo! Go's scrolling carousel.
Along with Zumobi, a Zumobi SDK beta will also be made available for people to create their own midgets. And of course, in the best of Web 2.0 traditions midgets will be share-able.
Zumobi's products page says that it took them 3 years to conceive and refine this interface. Now, how long will it take for an Android developer to build a small application with a similar tile-based zooming interface for iGoogle on the mobile phone?