Wednesday, October 19, 2011

thisismynext: Exclusive insight into the philosophy of Android ICS

Joshua Topolsky got an exclusive sit-down interview the head of design at Android. This excerpt from the interview talks about some of the key user interface changes. As I read these, I realized that Android has adopted ideas from other platforms, ideas that are potentially patented. "Favorites Tray" is a synonym for the iOS Dock, the swipe gesture to dismiss an app is a keystone of interacting with webOS, etc. Keep an eye open for news on handset makers (Samsung to begin with) being sued anew by Apple and/or HP.
Along the bottom of the homescreen you have a “favorites tray,” which can be customized, in the center is a button to get to your applications. Google search is always present on homescreens in the launcher, kind of like “Just Type” in webOS. When you want to create a folder now, you simply drag an icon onto another icon, similar to iOS. Inside folders, app icons will rearrange themselves, also like Apple’s software. Widgets can scroll and be resized, as in Honeycomb. Everything is smooth and fluid; new animations have been added throughout the system.

The multi-tasking icon pulls up a list of app snapshots similar to Honeycomb, but those applications can now be killed by swiping them to the right — like vertical cards. Gestures are all over ICS. “Gestures are much more fun than hitting buttons. Touching and moving things; way better than buttons,” Matias says while moving around the device. Even the calendar app didn’t escape the touch treatment; you’re now able to pinch-to-zoom on your schedule to expand or contract the view, which seems incredibly helpful.

The notification window is now slightly translucent with a glowing dot when you pull it downward. Notifications can be swiped away one at a time, mirroring webOS 3.0 behavior. You can access your notifications on the lock screen if you’re not using a passcode, and you can jump quickly to your settings through the window shade.

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