Maemo UI improvements blog.

September 6, 2011

Web Browser of Today

Filed under: Medium UI improvements — Tags: , , , — Andrew Zhilin @ 00:05

Hello everybody.

Today I’d like to discuss an app that we’re using probably every day on our smartphones but each time it feels underrated — the built-in web browser.
The problem is that the Maemo browser has been facing functional devolution year after year. But the web has been changing constantly as well as our lifestyle so now we need a proper tool to view the Internet in the right way more than ever.

So here are my thoughts on what should be changed in the default web browser in Harmattan. Many of those features you maybe have already seen in different apps so basically I’m just making up the concept out of existing pieces.
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February 20, 2008

Going from Reading to ReadWriting

Filed under: Light UI modifications — Tags: , , , , , , , — ARJWright @ 20:20

This is a derivation of a post made on my personal website titled “Going from Reading to ReadWriting by Improving the Internet Tablet“, though tuned for this site’s audience. Reading both might bring more clarity towards the idea in its enterity. But I wanted to keep this centered for this audience as much as possible.

Like many who read this blog, I have invested a good deal of my mobile computing life into getting a device (or devices) and a set of services that works best for how I need to be productive in this quickly changing world. Unlike many, I know however, I tend to spend a lot of time in a browser, most of my working day in fact. Because of this association with the browser as a vital part of work and play, I’ve come to understand some of its shortcomings, and laud its benefits on whatever platform that I can.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I have always been a fan of the Internet relayed to me on the Internet Tablet (IT). The reason is that while it does an excellent job in presenting to me the web that I can read, because of several aspects of the browser (and accompanying hardware/software issues), I cannot interact with it the way that an “internet tablet” should allow. If you will, Web 2.0 opened the door to an Internet that we did not just read but we also could compose. However, this central aspect of the web is not exploited on the IT. Moreover, I believe that this is one central reason why the user interface and user experience misses for the target audience and beyond.

Addressing UI (and UX) via Extensions

As some have already shown, the microB browser on the IT is capable of using extensions originally created for Firefox. However, for one reason or another, this has not jumpstarted the IT developer community towards making UI improvements.

For example, extensions in Firefox enable functionality such as blogging from any screen, saving bookmarks to online bookmarking services, taking screen shots, or even using embedded microformated content.

I propose addressing the UI items spoken about in previous posts here by developing extensions that do things like add a finger-sized scrollbar, or change the appearance of the address bar.

Actually ReadWriting

This does not get us to the point of readwriting the web though. To get to this point, the browser has to facilitate more than just consuming content. The easiest way to address this would be seeing a tighter integration between the microB browser and various web services.

For example, adding a content menu when one taps and holds on an image stating “Send to Flickr” or “Add to Flickr and Tag.” Or how about adding a content menu that would appear when text is highlighted that would ask if the information needs to be parsed into calendar/contact format, or automatically pasted into an email.

More than UI

Pushing the ability of the browser past just a portal to consumer content means that the UI has to do more than look good. It enables the IT user to craft a trend of using “internet anywhere” as a more normative view of using the Internet. When services are tasked with being able to plug-in efficiently to the said browser, a layer of “how” is breached for users so that “go” becomes the new how. We’ve seen how the rise of extensions for Firefox has allowed for users to create a personalized web that is and isn’t a part of the online experience. Given the personal and touchscreen natures of the IT, one could argue that doing the same would enable the same type of UI/UX shift.

Most of what I propose is more along the lines of user experience than the interface itself. Nevertheless, I’ll argue that the two have to dance more when it comes to addressing the usability of the IT. As a platform, until the device starts to push against the status quo, it will continue to just be viewed as a device that is one of many. And that it is, lest someone tears a page out of history and decides to use an Internet Tablet to write another. Then the web really begins to script life differently.

February 3, 2008

Tablet Heart (Web Browser): Part I

Filed under: Medium UI improvements — Tags: , , , , — Andrew Zhilin @ 05:10

Hello.

When you hear the word “Internet” or “Web” you don’t imagine instant messengers or some kind of administration tools or anything else. Your first thought are zillions of sites, that carries zetabytes of information, that is given to you in different ways like text, pictures, animation, flash, music, video and so on. So, if the device is called Internet Tablet — that means that it is profiled to give you easy and handy access to the maximum amount of internet resources. So the heart of that device should o be web browser. We gonna look at Internet Tablet browser and it’s UI closely in this article. Fire your engines!

To begin with I’d proudly like to say that OS2008 Internet Tablet’s web-browser called MicroB (also you can install it as additional engine in OS2007) is one of the best portable experiences of web browsing at all. It totally kicks Windows Mobile “Opera Mobile” and other competitors and easily competes with iPhone’s Safari that is “revolutionary extremely great new awesome and blah-blah” ;-) And it beats UMPC’s (to be fair, to that moment) because of battery life. It handles most of the sites without any render problems or crashes (actually, I haven’t seen such site :-). This is really really great and it approves the name of Internet tablet for 100%.

But nothing is ideal for 100% so after long time of everyday using MicroB I have come to some UI improvements that will help user to access most of the functions easy and quick.

First of all let’s see how it looks and behaves right now:

web_12.jpg

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January 31, 2008

OS2008 Browser Enhancements

Filed under: Medium UI improvements — Tags: , , — n800slip @ 08:52

While some users have complained about some of the technical aspects of the new browsers (e.g. latency, compatibility), I have found it to be quite good. Still, I can see some improvements that could be made to the UI to make it even better.

Scrollbar

Overall the browser makes a good attempt at being finger-friendly: the toolbar icons at the bottom, though small, are just large enough for finger presses. But while the scroll bar in other parts of OS2008 have become wider and more finger-friendly, the scroll bar in the new browser remains frustratingly stylus-focused. So the first change I would make to the browser would be either add the finger-based scrollbar outright or at least provide the option to use it. Another option would be to make it the default only in fullscreen mode, as I have depicted.

Browser Finger Scrollbar

(click for 800×480 version)

I have retained the stylus-sized horizontal scrollbar, since I believe it is less used. In full-screen mode, the page area is now ~735pixels wide, instead of 778px, but you gain a lot of usability for that minor loss of page real estate. (Now, some of you might retort that users can simply use the d-pad for scrolling. I’d agree, except that the d-pad scrolling in the browser is horrendous, since it is designed (foolishly, I think) to jump from link to link rather than scroll smoothly up/down. If that problem was resolved, the need for the finger scrollbar might be mitigated.)

Recent History (Back/Forward)

If you’ve ever gone down the rabbit-hole on a site like Wikipedia or Digg, you know that you can quickly end up on a wandering path of distraction. When you realize you’ve just wasted 15 minutes, you might want to go back to where you started to remember what it was you were seeking in the first place. As it is designed now, you would have to click the back button repeatedly until you reach your diving-off point. Since the browser will reload each of the pages along that trail, this can be intolerably slow, especially if you are on a slow connection. (more…)

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