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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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  • Dumbing down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:12PM (#42674963) Journal

    The dumbing down of computers continues. What else is new?

    • by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:16PM (#42675009) Homepage

      *puts down bottle* Unfortunately, I agree with you.

      Explains a lot really. Some people can go through 12 years of school, and not learn a thing. Computers never had a chance.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:25PM (#42675133)

      Fortunately, there is still full-blown unix available, and it keeps getting better and cheaper.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:40PM (#42675315) Journal

        For how long? We might have the source, but there's no guarantee that there will be hardware to run it on in the future. And Microsoft is doing everything in its power to make that happen.

        • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:10PM (#42675621)

          I just don't see the general purpose computer going away any time soon.

          But let's suppose it did... enterprise level hardware is still cheap by historical standards.

    • Re:Dumbing down (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@l u n arworks.ca> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:30PM (#42675207) Homepage

      I honestly don't see what's wrong with that, as long as it's not the dumbing down of *all* computers.

      Car analogy time: I can't fucking stand manual transmission, but do I understand why people like it. They can have it. But the people who like manual transmission look down upon automatic transmission and complain "it's the dumbing down of cars."

      • Re:Dumbing down (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:41PM (#42675323)
        Except for the fact that it is the dumbing down of the vast majority of computers. Ever used Windows 8? There's no way to switch back to the start menu without downloading third-party software (such as RetroUI). While Windows 8 is undeniably better than Windows 7 at supporting tablets, it doesn't make much sense to shoehorn a tablet/phone UI on a computer. To use a car analogy its like Microsoft is discontinuing any manual transmission cars and there's no way to get back a manual transmission once you've "upgraded".

        Granted, if you use *Nix you can still customize your computer no matter what the idiot developers *cough* gnome *cough* have recently done, but if you use Windows you are out of luck. And if you use a Mac, well, you long ago gave up customization.
        • by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@l u n arworks.ca> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @09:19PM (#42676243) Homepage

          Windows 8 hasn't gained traction yet. We'll see how that experiment turns out. On my Windows machines I'm sticking with 7 for the foreseeable future, and so are most people I know. Windows 8 is a weird Frankenstein's monster.

          As for the Mac, I can pop into a full UNIX terminal if I feel inclined. :)

        • by bondsbw (888959) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @11:37PM (#42677199)

          Ever used Windows 8? There's no way to switch back to the start menu without downloading third-party software

          You do realize that most Linux distributions are full of third-party software that has to be downloaded, right? Many of the customization options are from those third-party components.

          Seriously, I've never heard Linux users whine and cry so much about needing to customize a computer until Windows 8 came out. What changed? Did Windows 8 suddenly make you so lazy that you can't download and install something that gives you the options you desire?

          • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @12:48AM (#42677593)

            I can't avoid the Modern interface. There are a rather large number of options in the OS that are only accessible via that UI and, conversely, many that cannot. The OS is schizophrenic and unable to function in one or the other exclusively.

            Did Windows 8 suddenly make you so lazy that you can't download and install something that gives you the options you desire?

            The Start Menu was removed for the sole purpose of shoving a tablet-centric UI down users throats for the sake of their presence in the Tablet market. The entire Modern environment is centered around that (and to establish Microsoft's walled garden.)

            • by aaron552 (1621603) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:01AM (#42677671) Homepage

              There are a rather large number of options in the OS that are only accessible via that UI

              Aside from (some parts of) Networking and the Lock Screen, I can't think of many settings that need to use the Modern UI interface to access.

              The Start Menu was removed for the sole purpose of shoving a tablet-centric UI down users throats for the sake of their presence in the Tablet market. The entire Modern environment is centered around that (and to establish Microsoft's walled garden.)

              TBH, I was originally somewhat excited to hear that MS was (finally) making their UI touch-friendly. Instead, we got a patchily-implemented touch-first UI. They threw out everything to force an Android/iOS-style mobile OS onto their users when there wasn't even any evidence that users actually wanted that. Instead, MS is trying to enter an already-crowded market with an inferior product. Then again, they pulled it off through sheer persistence with XBox, so maybe it will be considered an acceptable alternative 4 years down the line.

              • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:49AM (#42677903)

                I think you still need Metro to shut down or restart. Unless you know keyboard shortcut, which novices do not. There is a shorthand way to get to control panel without using the "charms" bar, but again I don't think novices will stumble onto it. There's a lot of stuff that just keeps nudging you to the metro UI.

                The problems aren't so much being touch-friendly. But that it is also mouse unfriendly in many ways (much more mouse movement than before). It is also something that appears to be designed for a tiny screen, not a large computer monitor. Giant icons, a "context" menu that is mostly empty even though it has a "more" icon, and full screen apps that make poor use of all that real estate.

                "Swiping" makes sense on a touch device or a touch pad even. It is absolutely stupid when using a keyboard and mouse though.

                And let's not forget the actual advertisements appearing in the built in applications.

                • by bondsbw (888959) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:27AM (#42678041)

                  I think you still need Metro to shut down or restart.

                  I don't know of many people who just hate all of Metro/Modern. Most don't like the fact that the Start menu has been replaced, and that new apps take up the entire screen. I don't consider the charms/sidebar UI to be in the same problem domain (and typically, they are either helpful or useless, but don't get in the way much).

                  "Swiping" makes sense on a touch device or a touch pad even. It is absolutely stupid when using a keyboard and mouse though.

                  What in Windows 8 requires swiping? I've been using W8 exclusively for months, and other than being an easy way to close or rearrange Metro windows, I'm not sure where you need to swipe anything.

                  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:24AM (#42678569)

                    Swiping is for closing metro apps or for switching between them. Maybe it's not used everywhere, but those are useful operations and swiping is not intuitive.

                  • by aaron552 (1621603) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @07:23AM (#42678887) Homepage

                    Most don't like the fact that the Start menu has been replaced

                    It is almost an improvement over the start menu. I found the start menu too small in Vista/7 once I had 10+ applications installed. A pop-up launcher (if the Modern UI launcher opened in a pop-up over the current app/desktop, for example) would actually be an improvement, in my opinion. As it is, running full-screen on my 27" monitor is rather wasteful and used to break my focus before I got used to it.

                    new apps take up the entire screen

                    This is another thing that makes sense on a tablet or notebook screen, but is just wasteful on a large desktop monitor. Why can't Windows 8 have a proper tiling window manager for Modern UI apps or allow you to run them in a window on the desktop? This would, in my opinion, completely eliminate my problems with them.

                • by aaron552 (1621603) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @07:16AM (#42678867) Homepage

                  The problems aren't so much being touch-friendly. But that it is also mouse unfriendly in many ways

                  That's exactly what I mean by "touch-first". Touch interaction is (supposed to be) the primary interaction method for Modern UI, and that is, if not a major problem, an annoyance if you have no inclination or ability (no touchscreen) to use that input method.

          • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:29AM (#42677825)

            The choices are slim. All the decent utilities to fix the Windows 8 problems cost money. The free ones that I've looked at have a variety of problems.

            Although there is a workaround to boot straight to desktop by setting up a service; ugly but not too terrible. No other workarounds I've found for the remaining warts.

          • 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.

        • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:27AM (#42677803)

          Compare though to Mac OS X. It hasn't been dumbed down in that way, clearly Microsoft is copying someone else. Yes, there's a feature in Mac OS to bring up gigantic icons to click on to start apps, but it is not there by default and not shoved in your face as the only option. Mac OS also does not send you to the Apple store all the time, and you can use the application that are preinstalled without needing an Apple ID.

          Windows 8 really is anomalous. Nothing else really seems to be naively assuming that all computers will soon be tablets and phones. The generous part of me says that Microsoft was trying to leapfrog over the competition and went too far. The cynical side says that they just want more eyeballs in their app store.

      • by Master Moose (1243274) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:09PM (#42675605) Homepage

        Yet now, how many newer Automatic cars are adding tiptronic, or sports shift? - Creating some bastardised hybrid of Auto and Manual that just feels and responds "wrong"

        • by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @09:19PM (#42676241)

          This is the best car analogy I've ever seen here. Those tiptronic things are just like Windows 8. Trying to be two things and being bad at both instead of just focusing on one thing and being really good.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:56AM (#42677931)

          Compare though to Mac OS X. It hasn't been dumbed down in that way, clearly Microsoft is copying someone else. Yes, there's a feature in Mac OS to bring up gigantic icons to click on to start apps, but it is not there by default and not shoved in your face as the only option. Mac OS also does not send you to the Apple store all the time, and you can use the application that are preinstalled without needing an Apple ID.

          Apple does get flak for their UI though. From the brushed metal everywhere to the to the current stitched leather stuff.

          Though, Apple tends to prefer to keep stuff as similar as possible - they realize muscle memory is very important and people like things to be as similar as possible. To a fault, actually - people are saying iOS ahd OS X look "dated" because they're not "modern" or "fast changing" like how Linux or Windows UIs keep changing and how iOS and OS X look static. After all, iOS 6 today looks pretty damn similar to iOS/iPhone 1.0 back in 2007. For better or worse.

          Yet now, how many newer Automatic cars are adding tiptronic, or sports shift? - Creating some bastardised hybrid of Auto and Manual that just feels and responds "wrong"

          I find the tiptronics useful for when you need to shift down prior to reaching a hill or when you really want to coast in a higher gear. Not as a substitute for a manual transmission - most of the time the transmission does a reasonable job of picking the right gear, but sometimes I know I need to shift down. Like a bridge I commute over that's really steep and really does require a lower gear if you want to accelerate or just maintain speed. Being able to tell the gearbox to downshift before the engine starts struggling makes driving just a bit smoother.

          If I wanted a manual, I'd get a manual. But most of the time, an automatic "just works" and having the ability override the transmission is a bonus.

      • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish.info ... m ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:16AM (#42678355)

        If you've never driven anywhere but on a level plain, you might not appreciate the difference.

        Let me put this another way: You do NOT want to drive Hwy 321 anywhere north/east of Elizabethton, TN during the winter using anything other than a stick. Unless you like driving at 5-10 MPH the whole way, or have a fondness for vertical travel.

        And it's not that much better in summer.

    • Re:Dumbing down (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vlueboy (1799360) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:53PM (#42675419)

      The dumbing down of computers continues. What else is new?

      I would not call it dumbing down when the fact is that "the dumb" expect an intuitiveness that is just NOT here yet. A trend started by toolbars decades ago ASSUMES previous familiarity. If we learned anything from the backslash caused back in Office 2003 when the file menu went away, it was that it's hard to explain to someone over the phone what to click on when even your description of the icon can fall flat or cause ambiguity in what the user thinks you're suggesting.

      Today, smartphone feature reduction (more like forced simplification) has bled into webmail GUIs. For the adults I tutor one on one, I chose setting them up with Yahoo over Gmail due to richer, written interfaces. I also chose Firefox over Chrome due to the same, back before FF killed the menu in a copy-cat move that would undo this very effort. Imagine all the complaints I got from 3 of these students over 50+ years old when their Yahoo text labels went away last month. They instead got arrows, gear icons, disappearing options (dynamic) and paper clips where they expect "Reply", "Delete", "Attach". Those icons were always there, but they never cared to notice, kinda like people spend years clicking on "Edit \ Copy" without noticing what the Control - C and its icon are supposed to help with. The masses do not pay attention even when there's no pressure, and they did not take being forced to adapt very well. The ones who do are already computer savvy.

      Even though the buttons are far fewer, tablets are even worse. My mother unlearned how to Attach a file a dozen times. Finally, she learned the tablet GUI provides fewer confusion, but she's still greatly confused and is afraid of exploring what she thinks is a cryptic GUI and invisible "if you see nothing helpful, you're supposed to hold your finger down for the menu the programmer hid for that option". Android's interface is terrible for teaching an older person with limited memory AND time --I've had limited exposure to iPhones but find them friendlier and more likely to use words. See that gear icon over there [settings]? See that three line icon over here [menu]? See that bifurcating icon over here [share]? See that magnifying glass [search], not to be confused with this magnifying glass with a PLUS in it [zoom]? See those overlapping squares [windows]? Heck, I new it was trouble when I found it impossible to have them master multiple windows, let alone summoning and handling multiple tabs (plus icon in one browser, or square tabby thing in IE, or File \ New Tab in another)

      Older people tend to

      1) refuse to read our notes, books or sign up for classes in a real school with real homework. Too busy with fun and an "I need it now" attitude
      2) tablets have no mouseover help labels
      3) refuse to think through "geeky" words when 95% of the sentence makes sense.

      With things my mother enjoys on facebook, she constantly uses the hardcover dictionary to confirm spelling and meanings. The second there's a geeky word, she completely locks up and wants a quick way out. Dumbing down provides such a way, but becomes a trap destined to be understood only by the initiated, which are a much younger crowd that has no problem or shame in asking for help.

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:05AM (#42678333) Journal
        Yeah, and things you wouldn't expect. My grandma still has trouble reading her email on the ipad because the mail app has a blue dot which indicates an email is unread. It looks like such an inviting thing to press, she does so and marks it as read. But it doesn't actually show her the email.
      • by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:33AM (#42678409)

        My Motorola Atrix running Android 2.3 had a lot of text labels throughout its UI. I found it much more discoverable than iOS applications on my iPad, due to the greater use of text and the fixed location of the menu, search and back buttons.

        I've got a Galaxy Note 2 now. It's a superb phone, much better than the Atrix overall, but I see what you mean about text labels getting replaced with cryptic icons. I'm inclined to agree that it makes the interface a lot less discoverable.

      • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @12:12PM (#42680677) Homepage Journal

        Now you make me feel bad that us old-fucks invented the Internet and solid-state devices for you ungrateful punks.

        MY 80 year-old mom has no problem with her devices. Maybe YOUR mom is just stupid.

        Now excuse this 52 year-old sysadmin as I get a batch of new Windows 8 tablets joined to the domain and VPN so I can send them off to China with our aerospace engineers.

    • by HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:56PM (#42676045) Homepage

      This is not dumbing down, this is finally applying basic usability theory. Designers should be aware of the fact that nobody reads dialog boxes for example, and take care with their design to not use them, and where they do, to keep it short and to the point.
      Using black and white instead of colour icons? Yay, finally colour-blind people will find things easier to use.
      Not everyone needs to access every function all the time. A good designer will anticipate what the common functions are and make it really easy to use them, and tuck the less commonly-used things out the way. Too many choices can be just as bad as not enough.
      The /. bias is towards technical people who will mostly see it from the other side, but in reality the vast majority of users only use a computer as a tool to achieve simple goals; a good designer should make this easy for them.

    • by edibobb (113989) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:07AM (#42677975) Homepage
      That is EXACTLY what I was going to say. If they're not dumbing down TV and movies, then it's Windows and Desktop Apps.
    • by eth1 (94901) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @10:42AM (#42679995)

      Yep... first it was our PC games' interfaces getting dumbed down due to console cross-development, and now the same thing is happening for regular applications. :(

  • History (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:14PM (#42674993)
    I think this is a classic example of 'those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it', but on a surprisingly rapid cycle.

    So first people start realizing that the way menus and such are handled on the desktop did not work well in the touch screen or mobile space, so designers learned that lesson and developed more appropriate layouts.

    Now we have a new batch of designers that is making the same mistake, taking the mobile layouts and trying to use them on a desktop where they do not make much sense.

    Though really, it is probably just the old 'I learned to do X in environment Y and now I want to do X everywhere because Y rocked!' thing.
    • Re:History (Score:5, Insightful)

      by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:23PM (#42675101) Journal

      There might be that. Or there might be laziness. "OK, got the UI working for compact touchscreen devices. Now to design a completely different UI for a non-touchscreen large-format device with mouse and keyboard. Screw it. I'll just upscale the first UI. It'll work fine, and I just want to check this off and maybe go home on time for a change."

      In a developer, laziness is next to godliness, in that it's simply another synonym for "efficient". The fact that a tablet UI is kinda yucky on a desktop system doesn't take away from the fact that it basically works. "Good enough".

    • Re:History (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:44PM (#42675345)

      So first people start realizing that the way menus and such are handled on the desktop did not work well in the touch screen or mobile space, so designers learned that lesson and developed more appropriate layouts. Now we have a new batch of designers that is making the same mistake, taking the mobile layouts and trying to use them on a desktop where they do not make much sense.

      The trend of simplification on the desktop started before mobile was driving it. I think there is a convergence in that some things that usability studies and other factors were driving in general happened to also mesh very well with what fits on mobile device and works without a multibutton mouse; there is some analogy, I think, to how SQL and the relational model were motivated by theoretical concerns but really took off because they also happened to be convenient to implement in a performant way on disk-based storage and were introduced as disk-based storage was becoming popular.

      • Re:History (Score:4, Insightful)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @10:00PM (#42676551)

        I think this is an important point. I have used "touch" aka tablet friendly graphics software for over a decade and the tablet friendly UI's were all amazingly efficient UIs with a mouse and keyboard. People knock touch UIs as "dumbing down" UIs. But they said the exact same thing about GUIs *period*. You could say "dumbing down" or done well you could call it "removing excessive complexity". I could create the most cluttered UI imaginable just covered in buttons without any hierarchy. It would be extremely fast if you memorized where everything was. But a context menu would probably be better.

        • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @07:13AM (#42678851)
          It may be true that an array of icons can work well on a touch screen - but only iff you have a very limited range of options Once you have 150 or more icons on your Samsung phone, it is hells own job to remember what all these tiny little pictures stand for, when we have vocabularies of tens of thousands of words.

          In short, where there are few options, icons are fine. Where there are many, you need a hierarchical approach so options are presented in context. Icons do not do that well. It is fine for people who only ever do three things. For those of us who do hundreds of completely different tasks, icons are no good. That is why Unity looks like a piece of p*ss ot power users, and is fine for the dibbies.

        • by jythie (914043) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:21AM (#42680289)
          I think right now we are at a similar point to when GUIs first came out and people were sufficiently enthusiastic about the 'way forward' that they applied them regardless of if they really did make sense. Even today the CLI is an important tool in computing for certain types of tasks, and I can remember in the 80s and 90s people trying to shoehorn GUIs for those tasks and, outside some very impressive slideshows, failing to produce something that actually met the needs of users.
        • by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @12:39PM (#42680873) Homepage Journal

          I have used "touch" aka tablet friendly graphics software for over a decade and the tablet friendly UI's were all amazingly efficient UIs with a mouse and keyboard.

          The stylus you were using a decade ago can touch a far smaller area with far greater precision than a finger.

    • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:46PM (#42675363) Journal

      Now we have a new batch of designers that is making the same mistake, taking the mobile layouts and trying to use them on a desktop where they do not make much sense.

      It's interesting you say that, but there's at least one area where the opposite was true to success: pie menus. With mice, a pie menu isn't as useful precisely because desktops have so many options and layered pie menus can quickly become confusing. Meanwhile, pie menus are a great fit on a touch screen with only a few options and layers (just gesture one of eight directions from the center of the screen). I think the difficult part is really knowing where, if anywhere, success will be with a design. Oh, and of course, it's not to say pie menus were a complete failure on desktops and mouse gesturing in general is something some people like. So, there are perhaps usage cases or users where mobile layouts are a good fit on the desktop much more than would otherwise seem.,/p>

    • by jafac (1449) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:50PM (#42675401) Homepage

      I'm just doing what my stupid customers and managers are telling me to do.
      I don't want to call them stupid to their faces. (that didn't work out so well 15 years ago when we went through this exercise before). . .

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:32PM (#42675223)
    You only have to look at Windows 8 to see this trend.

    Rather than doing the sane thing and making different views/OSes for phones, tablets, laptops with small screens and full-sized computers, we've come to where we try a "one size fits all" method that doesn't work. It used to be that we had desktop-style OSes, sites and applications on smaller devices, now we have it backwards.

    Seriously, I've got a 24 inch screen, I don't need huge boxes for my applications like I might need on my tablet.
    • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:43PM (#42675337)

      and apps running full screen does not work that well on a 24 inch screen or for desktop work flows.

      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @02:05AM (#42677971)

        The apps with Windows 8 are also so badly designed. Given that they often look so similar I suspect this awfulness is part of the design standard.

        Ie, Weather opens up full screen and at least half of the space is unused except for the background. And yet you can side-scroll through 2 more full pages worth. Which includes an advertisement! I pull up Bing and a search brings up 11 results all with big boxes and large fonts, and then you side scroll too see more responses. Ok, web page of Bing only has 10-12 results also, but that's in a browser in a window that's not maximized. Sports I see one headline, one huge picture, and two boxes with additional stories. You have to side scroll to the end to get to a listing of scores. I don't know much about sports to be honest, but I had assumed most sports fans want to see the scores or at least some headlines. It seems more attention is spent on looking pretty with lots of pictures than on presenting useful information.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:46PM (#42675369) Homepage

      Oh, it's not only Windows 8. In fact, they weren't even first. OS X / iOS has been trying to mate over the past several years with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, Apple seems Hell bent on destroying the concept of the file as data and instead trying to make the app the center of the user universe. Completely opposite of the initial UNIX approach but I guess files and file systems have always been a big conceptual and practical problem for the great unwashed.

      I weep for our collective loss. Not everything is a toaster.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:53PM (#42675425)
        Well, yes but Apple basically says "you can't do that" to a lot of basic things and for some reason Mac users are perfectly OK with it. There always has been a lack of customization on Mac-OS (and iOS!) and then, annoyingly claims that it is doing it in some awesome way that only Apple could have thought of. Such as how the first iPhone could only run web-apps and any calls for a repository of applications to download were flatly ignored by Apple basically saying that they didn't want to/couldn't do that.
    • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:48PM (#42681555) Journal

      I've got a 20 inch screen and a 24 inch screen connected to my imac.I tell myself I like to spread out, but I really use it for watching hidef video while programming or whatnot. The key is that I'm doing two things at once, even if one of those things is largely passive.

      Apple's "Full Screen mode" turns off one of my screens (and decorates it with some sort of neutral pattern). It's very annoying. Yesterday I was in the library, consulting a bevy of books and annotating them for future reference. It would have been nice to be able to split my ipad's screen into a panel for notes, and a panel for the libraries catalog, but alas, no.

  • 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.
  • worried (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msheekhah (903443) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:47PM (#42675385)
    I am seriously worried about the future of desktop computers. If the economies of scale shift too drastically, the hobbyist computer and computer gamer will be out of luck. While I think the current shift towards mobile is making computers more approachable to more people, for those of use that use computer for work rather than play, it's detrimental.
    • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @11:35PM (#42677185)

      You have good reason to worry. Intel is exiting [slashdot.org] the motherboard market. That says something. Something worrisome. Other people say it's because Taiwan does it just as good now, so Intel doesn't have to care anymore, but it's more ominous than that. Google dropped Google Desktop Search and Sidebar when Microsoft created their own versions. Microsoft discontinued their own sidebar a little while later and let's face it, their search is STILL unreliable. Will we see the same series of events with motherboards and the commodity PC? Could be. A friend of mine has been worrying about the trend for months, and I'm starting to catch the bug.

  • by cathector (972646) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:48PM (#42675391)

    look at the amount of advertising for products completely unrelated to computing (mobile or otherwise) which choose to position the product being sold within the frame of an iPhone. it's a nearly ubiquitous advertising technique. this, imo, indicates that the iPhone has become popularly synonymous with "value". a few years ago this role was filled by laptops: if i was selling diapers, i'd show a smart-looking housewife viewing my product on a laptop. now it's iPhones. so what's happening is that UI designers are trying to convince you that their UI has Value by making it invoke iOS. my $0.02.

  • Thank God. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 AT anthonymclin DOT com> 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.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @01:19AM (#42677763)

      UX designers and experts have been clamouring for simplification for years,

      This is because UX is a bollocks field that has nothing to do with HMI and HCI.

      Perfect example:
      Cascading drop menus that require click+hold, or click+hover to keep open.

      Ironically this is the perfect example.

      In a desktop interface if you want to have multiple levels of menus to keep a menu system uncluttered, you did the cascading thing you mentioned.

      In a mobile interface, to do the same thing you have to have separately loaded menus rather than one cascading menu. In terms of screen space this is better, but in terms of user friendliness, it's not. You're constantly having to go back and forth between menu and sub-menu, to the user this is tedious and time consuming as in order to go back, you need to change menu's entirely. If you dont separate options out into sub-menu's you end up with all options in 1 menu which is a usability nightmare.

      Android as of 3.0 began to fix this on tablets where there is room on screen to have a cascading menu. Android 4.0 began to fix it on the mobile by having vertically cascading menus (I.E. you could pick "Menu A" and all the options under Menu A would appear below pushing Menu B below that, to close it you simply tapped Menu A again or scrolled down to Menu B if you didn't want to do that).

      BTW, "touch and hover" has been fixed for some time, most menus will stay open until you click outside the menu area now (or another form of input that tells it to close, such as the esc or alt key). I'm not sure which era you're stuck in but I suspect its Windows 98.

  • by velvet_stallion (2623191) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:14PM (#42675665)
    I look forward to the day when my desktop recognizes my hand gestures and begins playing the appropriate porn...
  • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @08:25PM (#42675761)

    ...the discrepancy here; after all, all those developing FOR mobile
    surely aren't doing this development ON mobile.
    So therefore -- does the answer to this dilemma in essence hilight
    the end of the GENERAL PURPOSE computer?

    Just asking.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:44AM (#42678441) Homepage
    What I hate about drop-down menus (on Windows, at least, it's presuambly doable on some Linux distro) is that you can't click an option and keep the menu open. If you've got four options to tick three levels down, it gets dull quick.
  • The lastes OS/X has reversed mouse wheel direction. This is so that the action of pushing with your finger has a consistent effect on the screen between touch and mouse environments. It also has the effect of reversing the selection order of weapons and items in games.

  • by biodata (1981610) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @12:26PM (#42680765)
    I think this summary misses the point that the dog is no longer the desktop, but is increasingly the mobile platform.

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