Maemo UI improvements blog.

December 26, 2008

New Year Countdown Series: #6

Filed under: Heavy UI improvements — Tags: , , , , — Andrew Zhilin @ 15:48

Let’s have a light break today, after good Christmas party :) Today I won’t show you any crazy UI mock-ups or even hardware schemes. Today I have a simple thought, that develops previous idea with “hot swap” battery. And I will not even hide it under “more” tag so everybody can read it and share opinion. I think that it would be great for future tablet device to have a cradle (or a dock station, whatever you call it) with slot for backup battery charge. Right now I have 2 batteries but I have to swap them into the device in order to charge. It’s really sucks. I know that there are standalone Chinese chargers but I think you’ll agree that out-of-the-box dock will give more points for the device in business and media power-users. I have to admit that it’s not my own idea – I had PDA Loox 720 before n800 and it has such a feature in it’s cradle. So there’s nothing new in it but I don’t understand why manufacturers ignore such a great thing.

Tomorrow I’ll continue to shot UI ideas on you so prepare your brain and hands for hot discussion!


December 25, 2008

New Year Countdown Series: #5

Filed under: Design guidelines — Tags: , , , — Andrew Zhilin @ 15:04

Merry Crhristmas to all my readers! Hope you’re enjoying that day and Santa have a small present for you – one more improvement. But now it’s not UI modification – it’s way cooler and super-handy! Check it out after the break.


July 18, 2008

WordPy and the Linear User Interface

One of the reasons for the complaints about the user interface for the Internet Tablet is that it is not linear enough. If you will, programs are designed to solve a problem, but have many side roads exposed to the user when they are on the way to solving the problem. And in some cases, the program is designed to solve a problem, however the application was designed so simply that the only indication that the program solves a problem for the user is in contained in the name of the program.

There is not one solution for this kind of user interface convention, but I do want to highlight a development effort underway with the WordPy blogging application where in its move to increase functionality that a different user interface paradigm was employed. In a draft version of the next iteration of WordPy, this concept of progressive, linear exposure of features demonstrates how Internet Tablet applications can contain the power of a full-sized PC application, but be maximized for the smaller screen and different interface.

The Current Version of WordPy

WordPy is a blogging application for the Internet Tablet. Its designed for use with Blogger and WordPress blogs and after a recent refresh, has been made compatable with the IT2007 operating system, and both Chinook and Diablo editions of IT2008 operating system.

Its main aspect of interaction happens through tabs. These tabs contain the instructions for main editing text, advanced options such as extended entries and tags, and a preview post component that allows one to see the post before hitting publish from the IT.

Settings are managed via a modified (from the default Maemo style) system menu. One can link to Flickr and Pisca web albums and then add pictures from those albums to a post. There’s also a post delete function that enables on to delete any previously published post.

Seemingly simple and to the point. But there are some interface problems with that version of WordPy that at first glance don’t seem like a major issue, but in the context of the IT and its usage paradigm, are pretty major issues.

Some of the Issues with WordPy

  • The title field sits on a second tab, meaning that one has to navigate to another screen before publishing even the simplest of posts.
  • Advanced features while present clog up the third tab, leaving little room for anything more unless a new tab is added
  • The preview tab shows the post, but not using the style sheet of the blog, nor does that preview screen allow the user to post from that preview screen
  • Additional settings sit a few levels deep in the Publishing menu

There are other issues that can be detailed and we will not go through them all here as its beyond the scope of the view. I believe that there is another way to interact with applications on the IT that are more conductive to simply getting things done. And to do this, by progressivly opening functionality as the user goes through the application, makes for a more pleasing experience, and overall a shorter time from idea in head to post on the page.

An Initial Proposal

Initial WordPy UX/UI Proposal
Initial WordPy UX/UI Proposal

As you can see with the screenshot (larger view is linked to my Flickr), compared to the latest release of WordPy, this proposal seeks to minimize the amount of dialogue boxes so that on a 4in screen, the user can be more concerned with the content and less about the other things that they cannot do.

If you are one who is into methodology, the idea behind this proposal was to unfold features as the user dug more into the program. To allow for exploration to open more features without exposing all of those features all at once, creating a powerful yet intimidating interface.

With tabbed interfaces, you can assume that just because the user doesn’t see it that they aren’t wary of more features. But tabs invite touching, and as Amazon learned when their site got too large for the 40+ sections of their website, there can be too much to touch when too many functions are added. By using a methodlogy of progressive, linear screens, an application like WordPy would be able to take advantage of the current feature set, and then also have additional functionality grafted on without changing the core user experience.

A View of the New WordPy

WordPy Future (link points to .deb file) is the current UI/UX preview for the new WordPy interface.

As one can see (screenshots coming soon, hopefully), the interface relies not on dialogue boxes, but screens. From simple information screens such as the post, add image, tags, and preferences screens, to simpler effects such as making it easier to edit or delete a post by just clicking a button from the application home screen; WordPy is designed for a device that has a smaller viewport than a PC, and accepts different interface options than a keyboard and mouse.

Following along the UI/UX screenshot posted above, the point of the interaction is not on the features, which are clearly here and in more abundance (viewable) than the current version, but on posting. With any program, the goal isn’t just to have features, but to solve an issue first, and let the features be revealed to the user as they are needed.

This is a linear user interface. Meaning that you start at one point and then move to another with end-points to a final product, but very few side-streets from the main task. If a person opens WordPy and just wants to post and go, they open the application, hit Create Post and then just write and hit publish. Those that want more functionality can expose it by clicking on successive buttons which expose more functionality. When the application’s feature set has been maximized, the application ends at the same point – Post.


So that you (the reader) do not think that I am coming against the developer of WordPy in a very public arena, this is something that I presented to him many months ago and has now made it to a UI preview stage. At this stage, I felt it appropriate to call to the table the different UI/UX conventions being employed here. But opening the dicussion of this method, it is my hope that developers reading this blog will start to think through how they design applicaitons beyond just the solving of a problem but also taking into account the fact that solving a problem on a PC is not solving a problem on an Internet Tablet.

More Information About WordPy

WordPy has been developed by Daniel Martin Yerga. The current version is compatable with the 2007 version and all versions of the 2008 Maemo Internet Tablet operating system. The version spoken of in this article (WordPy Future) is a future version that is currently under development.

For more information about the current version of WordPy, to contribute feedback or programming assistance, and to download for Nokia Internet Tablet devices, visit the WordPy homepage at

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.

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