Maemo UI improvements blog.

May 6, 2008

Chapter IV: Ready to surf.

Filed under: Medium UI improvements — Tags: , , , , , , — Andrew Zhilin @ 22:42

Hello there.

Today we’ll talk again about main feature and main way of use of Internet Tablets — Internet surfing. But not about the window to the web, MicroB. We’ll talk about things, that are very common for every user and that we face many times every day. Actions, that comes before surfing itself. I have some ideas how to make them more handy and seamless. So, let’s begin.

As we begin in every article, lets see what we have now. A connection icon in the tray that opens drop-down menu, where you can select connection and go to the connectivity settings. All looks pretty handy, but in fact it’s not. Let’s count steps, that we take to connect to the internet in different situations.

Added Wi-Fi hot-spot.

  1. Click the icon.
  2. Click “Select connections”
  3. “Exit offline mode?” – yep.
  4. Window opens.
  5. Wait for Wi-Fi to search for all APs.
  6. Click AP that you need.

You’re online in 6 steps and near 15 seconds. Not so fast to my mind. It’s a bit faster with BT connection, cause you don’t need to wait for AP’s to be searched, but it’s totally ruined if you need to connect thru different phones. You need to digg deep into settings to switch the phone.

So, I’ve found easier way to handle all of this. Take a look.

Here we got added row to the connections drop-down menu with four “favorite connections” icons. When you click it you just need to confirm exiting the offline mode. Thats all. You can easily connect to the home or work AP or different phone connections if you want. let’s see how it’s arranged.

When you click “Select connection…” you see something like this:

Red and gray crosses were added. They add and remove items from favorites. Simply click them to perform action.

When you click gray cross on the wi-fi connection you’ll see that menu:

Here you can do all you need to arrange favorite items as you want. Choose appropriate icon (with number or picture, for home or work AP for example), position and you can set AP available for autoconnection when visible (new feature of Diablo)

Same menu for phone connection is slightly different:

Instead of autoconnection (which is senseless for phone :) you can easily set which phone is appropriate for each connection without digging sub-sub-menus.

Well, hope you’ll like it or have some ideas to add or discuss. I’m always free for chat :) Thanks for the reading, take care.



  1. Again… Some good ideas. :) I especially like the “Add” and “Remove” buttons, but… I’m not so sure it needs to be “…from Favorites.” I’d actually just like to see red X’s next to every Wifi signal that mean: “Remove from scan.” That way, when you choose Select Connection, it would only scan for Wifi signals that you have not removed from the scan. Maybe the red X and the gray + could be next to each other for each signal. Then, you could either add to Favorites or Remove from scan.

    Comment by timsamoff — May 7, 2008 @ 00:33

  2. Well, in fact it will remove them from the list, but not from the scan :)

    Comment by Andrew Zhilin — May 7, 2008 @ 00:48

  3. Usability of connection selection should be tested while walking in busy street and trying to open connection to new wifi (typical use case for me).

    Current solution could be better. First, the connection icon is very hard to hit with finger and “select connections” is also fairly easy to miss. Everything should be as finger friendly as menus in task navigator (left bar), maybe connection could be selected from there? The “select connection” dialog is a real pain because every time list is refreshed selection jumps to first item, which is not nice if you are selecting wifi from the bottom of the list. If that bug was fixed and sorting changed to favorites, unencrypted, rest, things would be much better.

    “Speed dials” you are proposing are nice but maybe not very useful if you are using autoconnecting. If autoconnectiong is enabled you hardly ever have to open that connection from the task bar application.

    Comment by metallike — May 7, 2008 @ 00:48

  4. Well, in fact I don’t really know how autoconnection would work in Diablo. My hopes are for seamless connection in range or on wi-fi enable, but these are only thoughts :) So I’m imagining that there’s no autoconnection :) And I wonder what will NIT do if it will find two APs to autoconnect in same range. I think it’s better to select auto from favorites, not all list.
    Bout tray icon – I agree, it’s not so easy to reach it while walking. I think Maemo guys should make a row in “power button menu” right below mode switching, so it would be easy to reach with hardware buttons.

    Comment by Andrew Zhilin — May 7, 2008 @ 01:07

  5. Currently NIT is only autoconnecting to saved connections (or favorites). Haven’t tested which AP NIT will choose if more than one saved connection is in range, but I think that it really doesn’t matter as long as it works. Because connecting to favorite APs with autoconnecting is easy, selecting of new never before used AP should be made easier… Just noticed that it is already possible to initiate connection selection from application menu->Settings. Just never came to my mind that it is there. But direct link to searhing of connections would be better.

    Comment by metallike — May 7, 2008 @ 01:43

  6. Looks great. I love it. One question though:
    How would favorites relate to “saved connections” in terms of autoconnect?

    The way I use my tablet, I have 20+ saved connections that I wnat my tablet to use automatically. In your proposal, I would only want 2 of them to show up as favorites, because these are the two I use 90% of the time. (20+ favorites would be too much to handle, anyway… the number should indeed be restricted.)

    So, would there be a conceptual difference between “favorite – shows up in UI immediately” and “saved connection – used for autoconnect” so that each favorite is also a saved connection, but not all saved connections are favorites?

    Comment by ossi1967 — May 7, 2008 @ 07:08

  7. I think we are missing “auto connectivity” issue somehow :) In my words it’s NOT a storing WPA-Key for AP and auto entering it next time. It’s the way when you reach AP and the device is attempting to connect without any confrmations and absolutely seamlessly. Or if you just turn on wi-fi and NIT starting to search auto-APs immediately. As I read somewhere that functionality would be implemented in Diablo. If it would, than half of my idea will become senseless but it would still work great for phone connections. :)

    Comment by Andrew Zhilin — May 7, 2008 @ 11:34

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