Maemo UI improvements blog.

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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