One of the general principles of user interface design should be that when a user has to choose an option, it should be easily reversible – and it should be obvious how to do so.
Take a look at this grab, from Apple’s Keynote on iOS.
When I tapped on the button to insert an image, the iPad gave me the standard privacy control asking if I wanted to grant Keynote access to my photos. I accidentally hit “no”.
Now, whenever I open up the Photos control, I don’t see any images – but I do see an explanation of why I don’t see anything, and instructions on how to change that option if I wish.
That’s good design. It’s reversible, and it tells me how.
Philip Greenspun’s Weblog » Christmas gift for someone you hate: Windows 8:
“A reasonable user might respond to this dog’s breakfast of a user interface by trying to stick with either the familiar desktop or the new tablet. However, this is not possible. Some functions, such as ‘start an application’ or ‘restart the computer’ are available only from the tablet interface. Conversely, when one is comfortably ensconced in a touch/tablet application, an additional click will fire up a Web browser, thereby causing the tablet to disappear in favor of the desktop. Many of the ‘apps’ that show up on the ‘all apps’ menu at the bottom of the screen (accessible only if you swipe down from the top of the screen) dump you right into the desktop on the first click.”
Windows 8 is quite possibly a bigger mess for Microsoft than was Vista. And Vista, at least, was relatively easy for the company to extricate itself from.
Techpinions’ Steve Wildstrom ponders if Microsoft will make a successful transition like IBM, or a failure like AT&T:
“The question is, which model will Microsoft follow, AT&T or IBM? Will it emerge as a chastened, perhaps smaller, but very competitive company? Or will it just slowly fade away? The money gives it time to fix things, but it has to make key decisions about what sort of future it wants soon, and whether the leadership the company now has can get it there.”
IBM, under Louis Gerstner, shredded many sacred cows and emerged leaner, stronger, and able to grow. AT&T made failure into an art form. Microsoft still has the chance to succeed, but it needs to start working hard: much harder than Windows 8 would suggest it’s capable of doing.
Posted in Microsoft
Steve Wildstrom of Techpinions tries to set the sleep timer on his Windows 8 laptop, and finds it’s a little harder than he thought it would be:
“The best I could do to stay in Metro was: From the Start screen, bring up the Charms bar and select the Search charm. Pick Settings as the search domain and start typing ‘sleep.’ ’Change when the computer sleeps’ pops up; click it and the control panel opens. Of course, at this point, you are back in Desktop. Again, this method to perform a simple task seems totally unintuitive, especially since if you type ‘screen’ or ‘display’ in the search box you are not offered the sleep option.”
Windows 8 is a mess. Not because Metro is bad, but because Microsoft has bolted two operating systems into one, which makes the entire thing confusing.
Posted in Microsoft
Tagged Windows 8
Microsoft-Intel Push to Rival Apple in Tablets Sputtering – Bloomberg:
“Early demand for Microsoft’s first computer, the Surface tablet, seems ‘disappointing,’ said Craig Berger, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. And computer makers have been hampered in introducing tablets by limits Microsoft imposed on which manufacturers got a crack at prototypes, and by delays in Intel power-management software.”
The big problem for Microsoft is that it has to get tablets right. With tablet sales beginning to eclipse PCs (Apple alone sold more iPads than Dell sold computers last quarter) if Microsoft can’t get a foot in the door, the entire eco-system of Windows/Office/Exchange could fall apart. It won’t happy next year, or the following one, but it will happen if Surface fails.
Zite 2.0: A smarter, snappier personalized magazine for iOS | Internet & Media – CNET News:
“Zite has always been about giving users plenty of topics of news, and in the previous version, it had grown to 2,500 categories. In the new version, that number has exploded, to 40,000 topics, meaning that it can provide news to match almost anyone’s taste. But Zite is really all about discovery. And one of the best new features of Zite 2.0 is one that can take users on a journey of exploration through a topic, either by reading more on an individual subject, or branching off to other categories on a whim.”
Zite is an under sung star of the news aggregators. It’s simple, elegant, and puts the onus of discovery rather than simply displaying news in a more pretty way. If you’re not using it, take a look.
Posted in iPad
Tagged apps, iOS
Android’s Google Now services headed for Chrome, too | Internet & Media – CNET News:
“Chrome team programmers accepted the addition of a ‘skeleton for Google Now for Chrome’ to the Google browser yesterday, an early step in a larger project to show Google Now notifications in Chrome.”
Google is turning Chrome into a platform, as well as a browser.
The libel record of Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mail:
Alan Sugar: £100,000
Diana Rigg: £30,000
Elton John: £100,000
Dr Austen Ivereigh: £30,000
Carole Caplin: “Substantial” damages
Ossie Kilkenny: “Substantial” damages
Lady Kristina Moore: “Substantial” damages
Luke Cooper: £25,000
Kate Winslet: £25,000
Edwina Langley, Lisa Beard-Rogers and Thema Davis: £30,000 in total
Sir Michael Parkinson: £25,000
Barbara Broccoli: “Substantial” damages
Neil Morrissey: “Substantial” damages
Reza Pankhurst: “Substantial” damages
Parameswaran Subramanyam: £47,000
Marlon King: Apology
Cheryl Cole: Apology
Sheldon Adelson: “Very substantial” damages
Mike Hollingsworth: £75,000
Chris Jeffries: “Substantial” damages
Gordon Taylor: “Unknown settlement”
Given that The Mail has been one of the most vociferous critics of the BBC’s recent issues, when will Dacre follow the example of the BBC’s director general and take personal responsibility for the failings of its journalism?
I can guess what the answer is.
If you think that it’s in Google’s interests to create better apps on Android than iOS, two recent releases should absolve you of that notion.
First, there’s the latest release of Gmail, an app that’s so good even Android sites are wishing it was available on their platform.
Then there is YouTube, which improves so much over the previous (Apple-created) app that I wish Apple had dropped its own version sooner.
So what’s going on? Why would Android’s creator make better apps for the platform it competes with than for its own?
There’s two reasons. First, as I wrote in my most recent posting on Macgasm, the role of Android isn’t to defeat iOS, but to ensure that Apple does not dominate mobile in a way which meant it could lock Google search out. Second, there’s the issue of revenue. Although Google doesn’t break out how much it makes from ads served to iOS devices, given that iOS drives far more web traffic than Android it’s safe to assume Google serves more web ads to it. And that makes iOS a more profitable platform for Google than Android is.
Given this, why would Google want to damage a platform it makes more money per user from, in favour of a platform it makes less money per user from? Google is driven by data, and the data says that providing services to iOS users makes it money.
One of the ways you can tell that a piece of UI design really works is when you start trying to use it in other apps. A great example of this: Mr. Reader’s navigation buttons:
Those up, down and close buttons at the side aren’t there all the time. In fact, you have to slide your finger in from the edge of the screen to show it, and it’s your finger is positioned automatically over the “down” button. You have to hold and slide up or down to use one of the other buttons: if you lift your finger, the buttons disappear.
The nice thing is that you can do this from any part of the screen edge, so it doesn’t matter where your finger starts. I usually use my thumb, as I’m holding the iPad in portrait orientation.
It’s a lovely user interface device: hidden, yet easy to find and simple to understand. And it’s one of the things that makes Mr. Reader my favourite news reader on the iPad.
Posted in iPad
Tagged Design, iOS, iPad, UI