Two of the early Mac user-interface designers argue in a lengthy FastCo piece that Apple has abandoned many of its original human interface design principles in both OS X and iOS, and a switch to an alphabetic rather than hierarchical list seemingly puts aesthetics above all else.
Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini say that five of “the most important principles” are now “largely or completely missing in iOS”:
discoverability – having all possible actions be visible
feedback & feedforward – making it obvious what a function will do, and what it has done
recovery – the ability to undo a mistake, or get back to where you were before
consistency – using the same gestures across platforms and hardware
encouraging growth – helping people tackle more complex tasks when they’ve mastered the basics
Norman and Tognazzini also say that Apple violates many of Dieter Rams’ design principles, a German designer who Steve Jobs has said greatly influenced his own thinking. They say that Apple prioritizes Rams’ 10th principle – “good design is as little design as possible” – over the other nine.
I’d note that iOS 9 tackles one of their criticisms, offering an easy ‘Back to’ function when a link has taken you out of the app you were using, but it’s an interesting read.
The new version of Skype for iPhone highlights the ability to save contacts from the app’s phone dialer just like the native Phone app on iOS. You can also save contacts to Skype from the recent call list starting with this version, and Microsoft touts improved chat notification reliability as well.
Finally, Microsoft is reintroducing support for Skype URIs which let other developers include interactions with Skype directly in their own apps including features like calling and messaging.
As long as the Skype app is installed on an iPhone, when a user taps on a Skype name or phone number, the URI will open the Skype app to connect a call or send a message*, making it faster than ever to reach friends, family or businesses.
For example, if you’re browsing restaurant options on an app or mobile website that utilizes Skype URIs, tapping on the phone number would launch Skype so you could call and make a reservation.
If you heavily rely on communicating with Skype frequently, this means you should see deeper Skype integration in other third-party apps in the future.
Microsoft is rolling out a new version of Skype for iPhone today, version 5.9, which brings enhancements to the user interface making communicating faster and easier. The latest version adds contact suggestions to the dial pad when entering a number making the process of finding the right person to dial quicker. The update also adds shortcuts for starting video or audio calls from Skype’s chat picker window.
In addition to introducing the latest Skype for iPhone user interface improvements, Microsoft announced a limited pre-release program for testing early versions of Skype in exchange for sharing feedback and ideas…
If you want to get quickly up to speed on the basics of creating an Apple Watch app following the release of WatchKit, developer Nick Walter has put a free 50-minute video tutorial online. You can also sign up for a full online course for just $39 on Kickstarter – saving $161 on the likely launch price.
Walter gained a certain amount of fame recently when Forbes reported that he made $66,000 in one month following a similar Kickstarter campaign for a course in making iPhone apps …
Dropbox updated its Mailbox app today with some necessary features and fixes. The update now includes the ability to customize your swipes. Also, new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners will appreciate the optimized UI for bigger displays. Finally, Dropbox has squashed some bugs in Push and otherwise improved the overall performance.
Dropbox’s Mailbox is still only currently for Gmail and iCloud accounts, but the company reminds us again that other email platforms are on the way.
Good news and bad news for Tesla Model S owners: the iOS and Android apps have been updated to allow you to start the car without a key – but the matching firmware update needed by the car hasn’t yet arrived.
Version 2 of the iOS app also provides support for the new calendar function, where the car can pull in data from your iPhone calendar and offer to navigate you to the location – as well as providing several new alerts …
The fact that Apple was working on a smartwatch may have been one of the worst-kept secrets in the world, but the company did at least manage to keep us guessing about the form it would take – right down to whether the form factor would be square or circular.
Was a square format the right choice? To help us form a view, UX/UI designer Alcion has put together a series of renders showing what the Apple Watch would look like with a round face …
Apple this morning has released OS X 10.10 Yosemite Developer Preview 5. The new update brings various performance improvements and bug fixes. The previous Developer Preview brought some minor user-interface enhancements and significant speed improvements. Apple also released iOS 8 beta 5. We’ll be updating this post live with new discoveries as they are made. You can send us what you find to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find what’s new in this developer preview, below:
Back in January, when Apple released the third beta of iOS 7.1 to developers, we asked them what they thought of a whole bunch of specific changes, and whether they preferred the iOS 7 or 7.1 versions. Developers overwhelmingly favored the changes.
You can see below how developers voted on the specific elements. We’re asking you just to give an overall thumbs-up or down to the revamped user-interface …
I’ve said before that if Apple or anyone else wants to persuade me to wear a smartwatch, they’re going to have to design something that looks like a stylish watch rather than a chunk of smartphone glued to a strap.
Even most of the concept images floating around haven’t really hit the mark in my view. But this one, by Hungarian designer Gábor Balogh and spotted by The Verge, does.
Granted, it suffers the usual concept image issue of being designed with little thought to practicality (what happens when I answer that call?), and it’s not an iOS interface we’re seeing, but Balogh himself says that he’s aiming to illustrate a principle rather than a specific user-interface. That principle being that a watch should, first and foremost, work as a watch.
Check out the full set of images on Balogh’s Bēhance page, and let us know in the comments what you think.
While recent reports are pegging a launch sooner than later, reliable sources say that Apple is currently planning to ship iOS 7.1, the first significant update to iOS 7, in March. The iOS 7.1 update is said to not have any “secret features,” and it will basically be what we have been told to expect by the past five betas: some user-interface tweaks in the Phone app, an improved Calendar app, speed improvements, and numerous bug-fixes. It wouldn’t be surprising for Apple to talk iOS 7.1 at an event in March (a month in which Apple has held events in the past), which would possibly be centered around the next-generation Apple TV.
Ahead of Apple’s launch of iOS in the Car later this year, developer Steven Troughton-Smith has seemingly activated the feature inside what we presume is the iOS Simulator. iOS in the Car allows an iOS 7 user to connect their iOS device to their car’s built-in center console display. On the console, they can use Apple Maps, read Messages, make phone calls, and control music…
Steam Mobile, the iOS app that lets you buy games and stay in touch with the Steam community from your iPhone or iPad, has been given a new UI for iOS 7. It also adds some new features (notably offline chat) and stability improvements.
The user-interface retains the dark color scheme, but has a flatter feel and cleaner typography in line with the iOS 7 look. The revamp is a partial one, however – the app still has the iOS 6 keyboard and some non-flattened elements such as the 3D chat bubbles seen above.
The full change-log is:
– New look and feel
– Offline chat
– Improved push notifications and icon badging
– Moved invites to a separate screen
– Streamlined interface for responding to friend invites
– Display friend nicknames
– Added iconography to indicate that friends are on mobile or using Big Picture
– Include Facebook suggested friends in invites list
– Improved stability and performance
Filemaker, a subsidiary of Apple, has just announced its 2013 version of its popular database application. The new version focuses on bringing desktop database solutions to the browser. New in Filemaker ’13, projects can now be managed through a centralized web dashboard, with options for partner portals and file hosting. More importantly, data entry can now be taken in a web interface — HTML5 powered forms enable businesses to manage their deployments on any PC or Mac, as there is no longer a reliance on having the native applications installed.
Version 4.2 of the app will also include larger photos and videos that bring an increased resolution and allows content to stretch right to either side of your display while browsing your feed. Instagram noted a few other design tweaks on its blog:
In grid view, we streamlined things so that your content will also appear larger. We led our redesign with a focus on clarity to keep the feel of Instagram clean, simple and grounded in the photos and videos you discover and share.
The updated app also includes circular profile pictures, but notably does not yet directly support the slow-mo video feature that Apple introduced with the iOS 7 camera on the iPhone 5s.
True new innovations in the technology space only come around every few years, and even rarer are the innovations that have the power to change our day-to-day interactions with our devices. That’s why I was excited when I first heard about the Leap Motion, a little motion control device that promised to alter how we think of using computers. One year since the initial preview, the device is in the hands of the public, and now it’s up to the people to decide if it can change the way we use our computers. Does it live up to its expectations? Read on to find out:
Apple’s new release of Logic Pro X marks the first time in nearly six years that the company has completely overhauled the app’s UI. It’s been a long time coming for pros like myself that rely on the application, and to make things even sweeter, Apple is promising more than just a fresh coat of paint this time around.
There’s no ignoring the backlash Apple experienced just two years ago with its redesign of Final Cut Pro X and the removal of pro features in return for an elegant, streamlined interface. The question is, does Logic’s slick new interface come with compromises for professionals? Or has Apple learned from its mistakes with FCPX?
iOS 7, which was announced today at WWDC 2013, hit the developer portal not long ago, and we’ve all been busy installing it on our phones. Above you’ll find a quick hands-on with the new UI in iOS 7.
Most notably, iOS 7 ditches the classic iOS look for a flat a very white user interface. Users upgrading to iOS 7 in the fall will surely be in for a surprise when they install the new operating system on their devices.
Stay tuned for more iOS 7 video coverage coming later today.
Facebook announced on its Developers blog today that it is releasing version 3.2 of its SDK for iOS. The updated SDK makes it even easier for iOS app developers implementing Facebook features, with improvements to APIs and better tools for tracking usage and optimizing ads. Version 3.2 includes improved analytics and new metrics such as the ability to track “iOS 6 native share sheet and built-in native UI controls usage.” Facebook also noted that it is including a beta for select partners showing off upcoming support for “logging in-app purchase events.”
Better mobile analytics – We’ve added support for measuring additional usage metrics and optimizing ads to help improve an app’s quality and monetization potential
Enhanced error handling – SDK support and documentation now enabled for all classes of error responses
API improvements – A new FBAccessTokenData type makes it easier to open a session from token data explicitly, and to better handle app and deep linking
Facebook also said the updated SDK included enhanced error handling, improved web dialog support, and a several API improvements and bug fixes. Improvements to Facebook’s SDK are important, as the company’s noted over 45 percent of the top 400 grossing iOS apps are now integrated with the social network.
As always, we’ll be updating the list below with more apps and updates as they continue to hit the App Store today:
Traktor DJ: Native Instruments, the company behind the massively popular Traktor DJ software and other well-known audio production tools, today released an iPad app dubbed Traktor DJ. For those familiar with the Traktor 2 Mac app, the iPad app provides you with a scaled back UI that offers two decks, 8 built-in effects, and the ability to record and share mixes. While you won’t get onscreen platters with this app like many other DJ apps, NI allows users to pinch and swipe the waveform on the deck itself “for simple looping and ultra-tight scratching.” A full list of features below:
– Revolutionary DJ app by Native Instruments – makers of the leading pro DJ software
– Touch the groove using familiar iPad gestures like swiping and pinching
– Direct access to your iTunes music library from TRAKTOR DJ
– Stylish waveform display allows for simple looping and ultra-tight scratching
– Intelligent browser recommends songs based on compatible tempo and key
– Automatic tempo and key detection plus BPM sync for super-smooth mixing
– Innovative Notification Center gives you in-app access to essential tips and undiscovered techniques
– 8 built-in pro DJ effects, including Reverb, Delay and dramatic glitch effects like BeatMasher
– Familiar DJ mixer layout with crossfader plus line faders, 3-band EQ and filter on each channel
– Prepare tracks on the road – all meta data (tempo, beatgrids, cue points etc.) in TRAKTOR DJ syncs with TRAKTOR PRO DJ software*
– Record your mixes live in high-quality on the iPad and share with your friends
Flickr version 188.8.131.523: The Flickr iOS app was gets an update this morning that brings faster uploading, the ability to quickly save images from Photostream to camera roll, and much more:
– Faster uploading
– Easily save photos from your Photostream to your camera roll
– Automatically saves your original, pre-filter photos to your camera roll
– Quickly tag your contacts in photo comments and description by simply typing @screename
– Get notified when your contacts mention you
– Higher resolution photo display in lightbox view so your photos look even more stunning
– Take photos in a snap using your iPhone’s volume up button
Netflix version 3.0: Netflix received an update today to version 3.0 and with it came an enhanced playback experience including the ability to view the title from the iPad player UI, the return of the zoom icon for fullscreen playback, and “better placement of play/pause and Back-10 buttons so you can easily control your experience.”
We enhanced the player UI for a better playback experience.
1. See the Title in the iPad player UI – Touch the player UI screen to see the title of movie/TV show you are watching
2. Zoom icon is back – so you can now control when you watch full screen mode
3. Note better placement of play/pause and Back-10 buttons so you can easily control your experience
While we don’t expect Twitter to update its Mac app with official Retina support anytime soon, iOS developer Deniz Mert Edincik has taken it upon himself to post a patched version of the app that brings Retina support to the majority of UI elements. There was a bad link floating around earlier, but we’ve confirmed that the version in the link below works, as you can see from the screenshot above. To get the patched Retina version of the Twitter Mac App, simply download the file from the link in Deniz’s tweet below and run the patched app…
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple today that covers various methods of detecting a user’s presence and augmenting the user experience accordingly. Apple has covered face recognition and presence detection systems in various patent applications in the past, notably for multi-user logins, security features, and an Android-like face unlock feature. Today’s patent application covers even more implementations of Apple’s presence detection technology that would utilize ultrasonic sensors, microwave radar, and camera and audio systems to detect and identify the user. PatentlyApple covered the highlights of the patent including the ability to activate or augment features using presence detection:
In some embodiments, the device may also be configured to track the user movements (e.g., position and velocity) and, in response to certain movements, provide feedback and/or enter or change a state of operation. For example, movement toward the device may activate more features, such as providing more options/menus in a user interface, whereas movement away from the device may reduce the number of features available to a user, such as reducing the number of menus/options and/or reducing or increasing the size of the options displayed.
PatentlyApple also described another interesting possible implementation that would allow for intelligent zooming based on the movement of the user: