Tray is a great feature of Maemo. It really helps you to access all “everysecond” info like battery and connection status, volume and brightness control and some others, instead of digging deep the control panel. Also third-party software can place it’s status icon to the tray, that will help you to interact in some way. For example, Pidgin adds it’s account status to the tray and you can easily access Buddy list by simply clicking on it. On the home screen, tray looks very slick and tasty.
Looking on that thing from designer’s point of view, right now we have one row, that caries two width-equal blocks. And of course “minimize” and “close” buttons. The first block is “Window title”. Let’s take a look on it. As you can see on the picture, only applications name is making sense in whole 280 pixels wide block. “Media player – Now play…” or “Web – General – Internet Tabl…” – lots of info are held in phrases after applications name. :) Generally, window title was created for “big” OS’s just for arranging… windows. To help you navigate thru tens of opened windows of one program. Here’s the example.
As you can see, I can easily locate the window of Firefox with YouTube just by reading first symbols of page’s full name. It’s easy. But it makes absolutely no sense, when you have only one page on the screen, like we have in Maemo.
The second block is “Tray”, described previously. It’s 280 pixels wide too and can carry 7 applets in a row. If it’s required to show more than 7 applets (and it’s pretty easy to make, not even specially for showcase, but in real environment), than “tray” makes a second row with the rest of applets. It looks pretty crappy.
The solution is simple. To make “Tray” 400 pixels wide, that it can carry 10 applets without making second row.
Much better, isn’t it? Well, let’s go further. Why do we need a name of the application? What is it for? The name helps us to distinguish applications. It’s useful in a list of running processes or software for example. But definitely, it’s useless in case of Maemo. Cause you don’t need to know the name of application, that you have previously selected from sidebar menu. And even if you need to, you can click home or just tap’n’hold on the small sidebar icon and the name will appear. In Maemo title makes very important Hildon function — it’s a dropdown menu which contains all options of the software. So, we can’t totaly remove it. The easiest way would be to remove title but leave the “dropdown” icon. Some art work and here it is:
What we have now, is gorgeous wide tray, that can carry up to 14 applets. But all these icons will make some mess around and we need some arrangement tool to make small groups of icons for example “system status”, “messaging” and “other”. The simpliest arrangement tool that was ever invented is a space :) So, it fits to our needs perfectly.
To finish with tray, I’d like to suggest a “2 din” (stolen from car stereo terminology :) ) applets, that are 80 pixels wide combined with “1 din” applets that are 40. It’s irreplaceable feature for kind of applets, that should hold more info than the standard one or need to be just more visible. For example clock (on the illustration above) or weather forecast.
Thanks for reading.