The Metro flavor — that recognizable blend of Swiss minimalism and Segoe typography — is still, by far, one of the most intriguing design languages to be employed. Perhaps Microsoft’s edgy futurist appeal will wear off as Windows 8 PCs and tablets normalize the trend of text driven interfaces, but the current novelty of Metro driven applications continues to leave us entranced and occasionally optimistic about the future of UI design. In stark contrast to skeuomorphic or icon driven designs of iOS and Android families, one has to wonder if Microsoft’s modern brainchild could find itself comfortably at home when integrated with other platforms and without clashing with the native’s traditional mechanisms of in-app navigation and interaction.
The now defunct Zune brand never made an appearance on iOS, and for good reason, but Ender Labs’ Track 8 trendy reimplementation of the Windows Phone 7 music player on the iPad had left us considering if both the aesthetic and function of a Metro designed application could be capitalized on iOS. Track 8 intentionally ignores the conventions of iOS, extending Microsoft’s interface onto the dimension of Apple’s touchscreen displays.
Originally conceived for the iPad, Track 8′s second version (yes, 2.0) delivers a few important enhancements. An AirPlay button is now built into the app, presenting itself only when an AirPlay device is available above the shuffle and continuous playback buttons on the Now Playing Screen. Per navigation, a navigational gripe is resolved thanks to the inclusion of a long press on the back button to return to the main menu. Additionally, artist backgrounds can be restricted to downloading only over Wi-Fi via a toggle in the settings. While all of these additions, especially the long press, greatly improve the Track 8 user experience, it is the app’s Universal signification that denotes the 2.0 convention and Track 8′s appearance on the iPhone.