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GUI Software

The Mobile App Design Tail Wags the Desktop Software Design Dog 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the stop-taking-away-features dept.
CowboyRobot writes "The metaphors and conventions of mobile apps on phones and tablets are now driving the design of desktop software. For example, dialog boxes in typical desktop software used to be complex, requiring lots of interaction. But these are now typically much simpler with far fewer options in a single pane. Drop-down menus are evolving, too. The former style of multiple cascading menus is being replaced. Drop-downs today have a smaller range of options (due to mobile screens being so small and the need to have the entries big enough that a finger touch can select it), and they never use the cascading menu. In Web-based apps, the mobile metaphors are finding greater traction as well. One need only look at the new Google Mail (GMail) interface and see how it's changed over the last year to view the effects of this new direction: All icons are monochrome, the number of buttons is very limited, and there's a More button that keeps the additional options off the main screen."
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The Mobile App Design Tail Wags the Desktop Software Design Dog

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  • by dstyle5 (702493) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:46PM (#42675371)
    Been using Windows 8 on my "old" PC since the first public release and as they kept releasing new beta versions I kept expecting the Modern GUI to be cleaned up, apps given better interface, more functionality, the store to be somewhat usable at some point (its still garbage in the released version), etc, but alas the RC came and not a whole lot changed.

    To me the UI feels 1/2 done, like they plopped a mobile UI on mouse and keyboard driven UI and called it a day. Given the tons of code in Windows you think they could add in a few if/else blocks to check which platform you are on and adjust the UI a bit to the platform. The Vista/Win8 comparisons are rather apt, IMO.
  • Re: Dumbing down (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:59PM (#42675491)

    You are aware that OS X is UNIX right? You could replace Aqua with KDE or Gnome if you wanted to for some reason. You can easily replace Finder with 3rd party software such as Pathfinder.

    There are very few modifications you can do on Linux that you couldn't also do on OS X. I'll give it to you that iOS is locked down but on the Mac you can do pretty much whatever you want.

  • Thank God. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dynedain (141758) <[moc.nilcmynohtna] [ta] [2todhsals]> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:13PM (#42675645) Homepage

    UX designers and experts have been clamouring for simplification for years, but clients refused to change until everyone started asking "why doesn't this work on my phone/tablet".

    Perfect example:
    Cascading drop menus that require click+hold, or click+hover to keep open. These are almost impossible to keep open multiple levels deep with anything other than a keyboard or mouse. Touchpads, thinkpad nipples, trackballs, all require precise movements, and even a mouse is less than ideal. But we tolerate it because that's what we're used to. Since click+hold, or click+hover doesn't make sense on a touch device, people are finally beginning to accept UX recommendations that it's not a good menu behavior to use.

    Depth of functionality != Complexity. Watch this video for more understanding [penny-arcade.com]. It describes video game design, but the same idea applies to any user interface.

  • Re:Honestly.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RCL (891376) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (gvv.sr.lcr)> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:58PM (#42676065) Homepage
    Open source was never about "clean code". Remember, Linux (the kernel) was regarded as an "obsolete design" by academia from the start. It was a quick hack that people liked and started to develop, there was no grand plan behind it (except for "copying" Unix, which itself had no coherent design).

    Open source in its purest form is a patchwork of solutions that make sense locally, but may badly fit each other (or be redundant) in the big picture view - and this is natural. The wider world as we know it heavily relies upon redundancy and diversity.

    Now, regarding your suggestion that money might have destroyed the originally technically sound open source approach. Dare I say, money is more likely to improve the situation than worsen it. Money is the ultimate metric by which we can measure whether some approach has practical merits. Without the monetary feedback, we are likely to be trapped in the infinite loop of designing "the right things" which will never be "right" in the real world. Things may get messy at times when we are stuck in the local minima of existing solutions, but in the long run I believe that money will sort it out... because better technology allows - ceteris paribus - to make more money :)
  • Re:Dumbing down (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Miamicanes (730264) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @03:29AM (#42678227)

    > What changed?

    Despair at seeing Linux's most influential distro doing its best to ruin itself as badly as Windows 8 has.

    We naively thought Linux was an island of sanity, and believed abominations like Unity were something that only happened to Windows people.

    Ubuntu scared the shit out of all of us by making it clear that Linux isn't immune to the insanity propagated by those who think crippling desktop apps to the limited functionality of phone apps is a *good* idea.

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