Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Tue 11th Jan 2011 13:40 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Nowadays smartphones, tablets and desktop/laptop computers are all siblings. They use the same UI paradigms and follow the same idea of a programmable and flexible machine that's available to everyone. Only their hardware feature set and form factor differentiate them from each other. In this context, does it still make sense to consider them as separate devices as far as software development is concerned? Wouldn't it be a much better idea to consider them as multiple variations of the same concept, and release a unified software platform which spreads across all of them? This article aims at describing what has been done in this area already, and what's left to do.
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RE: umm
by mrstep on Tue 11th Jan 2011 15:37 UTC in reply to "umm"
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Given that OSX and iOS are both basically versions of NeXTSTEP from the late 80's, that phones are higher-powered than the workstations that OS ran on originally, and that the development frameworks differ almost exclusively by the UI widgets... what's your problem with iOS as an example? C/Obj-C based, Unix, nice UI... what, it's not X or open source? I guess I didn't realize that was a requirement for OS convergence.

UI differences between 'hide this menu' vs. 're-think how to use screen space' are the difference between getting a Windows Mobile type of app (what the example looks like) or a clean one.

You're going to be very busy building the ultimate rules framework and tons of code to support it instead of making the best app you can if you decide to 'save time' avoiding spending time on the UI. Or it will be second rate.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: umm
by Neolander on Tue 11th Jan 2011 15:43 in reply to "RE: umm"
Neolander Member since:

But then you will have to re-code your app's UI and users will have to re-learn it each time you move to a new device. It's the good old single-platform vs multi-platform debate, really... Only this time, multi-platform is something more interesting than just a way of supporting niche OSs.

So far, it has not been proven that the concept of multiplatform apps is fundamentally wrong. Only that Windows Mobile sucks on a touchscreen. Which is not relevant in this context, considering that 1/WM was designed for stylus use to begin with and 2/WM apps are not ported Windows apps, contrary to popular belief.

Edited 2011-01-11 15:50 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: umm
by mrstep on Tue 11th Jan 2011 16:22 in reply to "RE[2]: umm"
mrstep Member since:

"This would be an acceptable smartphone office suite UI". (Not your quote, from the original article.) That sums it up for me. Acceptable. Yep, it will pretty much work, but that's it.

I'm definitely aware that the WM apps are meant for stylus and that they're not just re-compiles of their desktop counterparts - that's why I'd leave WM out of the convergence discussion. I mention it purely as a point of UI - the reduced UI in the example looks like a WM app (drop some menu items here and there, call it a mobile app), not like a well thought out portable version. I'll totally ignore that the backend app was a rewrite because I don't think that users know/care for the most part. Look at a Word for Windows Mobile screenshot - fine, they put the buttons on the bottom at some point, but... and?

The evidence in multi-platform apps being 'wrong' is in iOS + Android market share. I'm talking UI here, not the idea that you could compile the same app code to work across devices - I agree that we're pretty well there already and it's where things are heading.

FWIW, you don't have to "re-code" your apps UI at this point. At least on iOS you're going to be doing more re-layout work and re-thinking what it means for a user experience with maybe a few code path tweaks, but you'll spend more time making the layout nice, doing other artwork in some cases, etc., than re-coding anything.

Does a user have to re-learn using the app? Maybe slightly, but not at any deep level, just to the device bring its best capabilities to bear and mitigate any shortcomings (CPU/screen space).

We'd be looking at zoom sliders instead of pinch-to-zoom, next/previous buttons instead of swiping, etc. if we tried to do the suggested UIs. Sadly, it may be acceptable for most users, but it's definitely un-interesting from a capabilities perspective. And it's really what most of the industry was bringing to the table until Apple lit a flame under their collective ass. Code convergence on the back end shouldn't be seen as a reason to avoid improving the user experience, and looking to save time across device variants has that feel.

And I really hope I don't come across as combative or anything - I just don't agree with the conclusion, though it's certainly a question worth asking. I'm drawing my conclusions from my own development and from industry trends.

Reply Parent Score: 1