Posts tagged with "UI"

OS X Lion: Interface Tour

As we discussed in our OS X Lion review, Apple's latest operating system is an evolutionary step forward, a milestone in the company's desktop software history that innovates old concepts and user interactions by bringing some of the features and design schemes seen on iOS devices to the Mac's bigger screen. There is a subtle difference though: whereas most people would think Apple is "stealing" from iOS, building on the success of the iPhone and iPad (now a bigger business than desktop computers) to sell more Macs, Lion does in fact prove that the roots of OS X are still strong, but looking for a cohesive integration with the seeds planted on mobile. As Cody wrote in his review "Apple weaved our working knowledge of gestures and interfaces into the Mac to capitalize on our intuition" -- Lion isn’t a glamorous iOS. Lion is an evolution of the OS X we know and use, and the changes made to the operating system are immediately visible in the interface.

Lion doesn't look like iOS. If anything, Apple has tweaked the Aqua interface to achieve the same elegance, minimalism and focus on content first conceptualized on the iPhone, but it's far from being an iOS clone. With Lion, Apple hasn't ported iOS' design principles to the Mac -- they took the best parts of a mobile interface that they thought would also make sense on the desktop, and managed to make it work. The changes in Lion -- both design-wise and feature-wise -- never feel like forced additions that are weird to use and be familiar with. Rather, they're subtle improvements that will make you wonder why they weren't implemented before. Read more


Postbox 2.5 Will Bring A Completely New Mac Interface

Postbox, the "first-class" email application that shipped a major 2.0 release last year with features such as unified inboxes and quick reply, will have a completely redesigned user interface once the 2.5 version ships this summer on the Mac App Store. Currently in private beta for lifetime Postbox users only, the upcoming 2.5 update has been teased several times by the company in the past weeks, showing off new functionalities like vertical view, a redesigned message view that's cleaner, elegant and more readable, as well as new toolbar icons also in monochrome variations to get ready for OS X Lion's new UI paradigms.

Earlier today, the Postbox team has posted a series of screenshots of the UI overhaul they've been busy working on with the help of Belgian designer Benjamin De Cock. As you can see from the screenshots in this post and the full gallery here, Postbox 2.5 looks like a massive update design-wise that will be aimed at cleaning the overall experience on OS X which, quite frankly, kind of resembled a Windows program in its previous iterations. With the final goal of "reducing clutter and complexity" in mind, the Postbox team has set out to create an email client that's just as beautiful as a native Apple app would be, with the addition of unique features like attachment browser, topics, file sidebar, and much more.

There are a lot features and a lot of different ways to use Postbox. It was important for us to account for those different needs, but we also wanted to keep the interface as clean as possible. Mac OS is a huge inspiration for this, as they’re doing a terrific job in reaching people who are less tech-savvy and hardcore geeks. It has been a real benchmark for me for Postbox 2.5.

Postbox 2.5 is a terrific design milestone, and more design improvements are on the way to make Postbox even more user-friendly and accessible for everyone.

The new version of Postbox looks really promising and we can't wait to get our hands on it to see what's improved, changed, and refined. Postbox 2.5 will be a free upgrade for existing 2.x customers, so if you haven't yet, go get Postbox from the Mac App Store at $19.99. Check out more screenshots of the app after the break. Read more


Google Rolling Out Revamped Mobile Search UI

As noted by some of our readers overnight, Google is rolling out a revamped search interface which better showcases all the services offered by Google and allows you to easily and quickly switch between Search, Images, Gmail, Blogs and more. The new page design is not available for everyone (I can't see it on my iPhone 4 in Italy), as it's apparently slowly propagating internationally. MacStories reader Kevin, however, managed to grab some screenshots of the updated mobile interface; a new bar at the top provides links to Google Search, Images, Blogs and Gmail, and a "more" button to expand the bar and reveal the icons seen in the screenshots above. Another section of the new top bar displays the Google account you're currently logged in with, as well as two tabs for Search and Apps. In the Apps section, Google has a Gmail shortcut that takes you to the usual mobile mail interface for iOS devices. Other services are likely visible in the Search tab of international Google domains, as our reader could only see the new design on Google.lu.

Google has updated several of its online services and web apps over the past months to be more functional on iOS and Android devices. Together with Instant and App Store search results, Google made lots of changes to Gmail mobile, improved the weather widget and completely revamped the Maps web app last week. Check out more screenshots below. [Thanks, Kevin] Read more


Screens 1.5 Now Available: Still The Best VNC Client for iOS

When I first reviewed Screens, a universal VNC client for iOS by Edovia, I was impressed by the speed and elegance of the app, which made it super-simple to connect to Windows PCs or Macs on a local network, as well as remote computers powered by a global dynamic hostname. Together with that, Edovia's Screens proved that a VNC client for iPhone or iPad didn't need to completely mimic the functionality of a desktop computer: rather than putting a mouse cursor on screen, the app allowed you to turn a computer's screen into a multi-touch based experience as if it was built for iOS in the first place. With Screens, you don't move a cursor like in most VNC clients: you touch the computer's windows and apps. With gorgeous animations, responsive loading times and a free service called Screens Connect to automatically and easily log into a remote machine without having to fiddle with IP addresses and router ports, Screens managed to become the most popular VNC app for iOS, and one of my favorites overall.

Months after the original release, Screens receives today a major update to version 1.5, which I had the pleasure to beta test and play with for the last couple of weeks. Screens 1.5 introduces a lot of optimizations to the underlying VNC engine to make connections faster, more stable and, based on my tests, more responsive with both PCs and Macs. Minor bug fixes and improvements aside, Screens 1.5 fixes an issue that caused a crash when disconnecting from a computer, and enhances responsiveness with several Windows VNC servers. As far as connecting to a remote computer goes, Screens now displays the Screens Connect status in the Settings, so you can instantly know whether your computer is remotely accessible or not. However, connecting to a machine on your local network is as easy as before -- Screens automatically recognizes computers with screen sharing enabled, and all you'll have to do is enter a password and choose a nickname.

Screens 1.5 also brings a new icon, a revamped UI and a new Grid View on the iPad that will come in handy for those who manage a lot of different computers; if you're concerned about privacy, Screens now enables you to choose whether or not you want the app to grab a screenshot of your desktop upon disconnecting. If you don't want to have "real" previews in Screens' dashboard, a default image will be used. In the Settings, you can also set a computer to open in fullscreen mode, and you can toggle modes (full, partial, off) with a three-finger tap. It works really well.

Screens 1.5 is an important update to a great VNC client for iOS that keeps getting better with lots of options, and a fast engine. The developers didn't sacrifice usability for options, though, as the app is still very easy to use and provides a simple way to add, modify and delete computers. The update is propagating now in iTunes, and you get the app here at $19.99. Highly recommended. Read more


The Problems with a Retina Display on the Mac

The Problems with a Retina Display on the Mac

If Apple were to do something like the above, the biggest question I would have is whether or not they’d put something into place for users who genuinely do want much smaller UI elements and much more screen real estate. That is, if Apple were to double their UI, and then use the 2×1080p resolution for the 27-inch iMac, there’s a sense in which current 27-inch iMac users would feel like they were actually losing screen real estate from their current 2560 × 1440 displays. But that’s why Apple’s Apple and I’m a guy writing about them: if and when Retina Displays do come to the Mac, they will have thought that issue through and either solved it, or decided that the set of users who would be upset by it isn’t a large enough group to hold other users back.

Tim Ricchuiti at The Elaborated makes a great case for the issues Apple would have to overcome in implementing higher resolution displays (let's just call them Retina Displays for the sake of the argument) on Macs: at 3200 x 2000 pixels (that's the resolution of the default wallpaper image found in the Lion betas, and no Mac or Apple-branded screen currently ships with such pixel density), UI elements on a MacBook Pro 15" would look small, unless Apple comes out with a solution to offer same-size graphics, on a higher-res screen. On the iPhone 4, for example, they allowed developers to create "2x" graphics that, with double the pixels on the iPhone 4, look the same size of iPhone 3GS graphics. But how would you do that on a Mac, where users can decide to install apps both from the web and the Mac App Store, thus preventing Apple from enforcing a 2x standard? Plus, how could Apple offer a way to switch between bigger and smaller UI elements? A desktop ecosystem like OS X with computers featuring much bigger displays than iOS devices raises more questions over the implementation and usage of Retina Display.

Make sure to check out Tim's full article here. Whilst "HiDPI display modes" were previously rumored to be finding their way to new Mac screens relatively soon, we think Apple will have to find a solution to the problems with a Retina Display on the iPad first. [via Daring Fireball]

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This Front Row Mockup Is Totally Gorgeous

Designer Zach Forrester tried to imagine what would Front Row look like if Apple updated its interface with new shiny pixels, animations and a visualizer. The result, a series of mockups available here, is impressive: Zach took the basic concept underlying Front Row's UI and the Apple TV's browsing experience and re-imagined them with a bit of artistic sense and pixel perfection in mind.

I'm not sure about the keyboard as-you-type he designed, but everything else looks great: from the Movies view with larger poster art and slide-in animation for a single item, to the music player that includes a subtle visualizer on top of the Cover Flow navigation and next to the Now Playing album art.

More screenshots are available here, and there's a limited web demo for you to play around as well. [via Beautiful Pixels] Read more


iPhone Apps and Custom Tab Bars

iPhone Apps and Custom Tab Bars

There’s been a new trend with iPhone apps to use more sophisticated custom tab bars. In case you don’t know what a “tab bar” is, it’s historically been the black bar at the bottom of the screen, which provides the main navigation for the iPhone app.

A trend started by Instagram (the first popular app to place an action button in the tab bar, not a view selector) is quickly expanding to other apps like Gowalla and Path. While I recognize this isn't exactly ideal from a UI ecosystem standpoint (it break several of Apple's interface guidelines), I do think that sometimes disruption is necessary as it leads to innovation. The problem is, many developers just wait for Apple to innovate.

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A Beautiful Instagram Facelift

A Beautiful Instagram Facelift

Instagram is one of the hottest photo sharing apps on the App Store right now but there’s one problem: it doesn’t look that great. At Tapmates, we take pride in our icons and user interfaces, so we decided to mock-up what it would look like if we made it.

The mockup surely sports some pretty pixels. Still, it breaks many of Apple's interface guidelines, such as the camera button in the tab bar. Looks great nonetheless.

What do you think?

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