On Apples new OSX interface ideas

Fullscreen.

osx_fullscreen

It’s about as near a maximize feature — something I’ve been clamoring for for years — as you’re going to get.

Some thoughts on that, and Apples other OSX news.

Stoplight Consistency

stoplight

Apples stoplight window management controls, the red, yellow and green buttons at the top left of OSX windows, have long been a cause of headache for me. The problem I’ve always found, is consistency and predictability.

At first glance, red yellow and green means “stop, wait, go”. When you hover over the buttons, however, you’re shown x, - and + symbols. Classicy mystery meat navigation. Fine.

When you click the red button, you close the window. Fair enough, even though you don’t actually close the app. It takes some getting used to. Also fine.

When you close the yellow button, you minimize. Very good.

When you close the green button. Well, it’s anyones guess. Firefox will scale the window to fit the available space on your screen; Chrome will toggle the height of your window. This is the bad one, this is the one that needs changing. Which is why the next OSX should own the green button and let it invoke fullscreen for every app there is.

Launchpad
osx_launchpad

 

Apple introduced a launchpad which shows all your apps in an icon grid view similar to your iPhone device. That’s nice, especially in concert with the new App Store. It’s a bold new step in Apples vison of ridding the world of the file-system. In fact, apps may be the final frontier, as installing, managing and uninstalling apps cleanly and easily has been the bane of operating systems for decades. As such, it’s not the launcher interface itself that interests me — that could really have been anything and a grid of icons is not supremely original per se — but the fact that adding, managing, removing and launching apps is now done in a completely new and easier way is going to be something new Mac users are going to love. That’s nice.

Mission Control

This’ll be interesting.

osx_mission_control

The love-child of Exposé — the thing that explodes all your open apps on to the screen to help you select — has hooked up with fullscreen and Spaces, the arguably orphaned multi-desktop environment. The resulting ménage à trois is one where each fullscreen app gets its own “screen”. When you invoke “Mission Control”, you’re able to switch between screens — one screen for your oldschool stoplight windows, one for each fullscren app you have.

It really doesn’t look so intuitive. Frankly it looks confusing.

But that’s okay, because for most users, when you maximize an app — iPhone style — you get to another app by minimizing. And that’ll still work (I assume). Mission Control is for those willing to learn how to use it. It’s a window management feature for not-casual users, and those users are going to love it.

Next Project: Kill The Menu

One of the reasons I’ve clamored for fullscreen all these years, is so that screen edges can be used. You know, when you drag the mouse to the top, bottom or sides of your screen? Yup, that’s real easy because when you hit the edge, you can’t go any further — when you’re at the edge, you need only worry about moving in one direction, horisontally or vertically.

Which makes me excited for a fullscreen Chrome browser. Tabs can now work in Chrome as they’re supposed to — sit right at the top for extremely fast access. I betting Safari is going to try tabs on top again.

Long time OSX apologists have been pointing to the fact that OSX does in fact utilize screen edges. The top of the screen is reserved for the ubiquitous “file menu”. The only problem is, file menus are oldschool. They’re boring. They’re there because no-one had a good idea how to tuck in lots of features in very little space.

Be honest. When was the last time you used the Edit menu? Just now, for copy pasting? Oh, alright. How did you do that on your phone? You long-pressed? Right. Because that’s the new way of doing things.

That’s your assignment for your next OS, Apple. Rid us of the file menu. It’s okay to do it in a Snow Leopard-esque maintenance release to Lion. You could call it Liger.

8 thoughts on “On Apples new OSX interface ideas”

  1. Levi says:

    Nice summary there Joen.

    I’m a little worried about the gestures to navigate full screen apps / mission control though. I saw int he keynote, the demo guy was struggling a little to get some gesture to work, but also what about people who don’t have touch/track pads? I hope were’ll be some intuitive keyboard shortcuts to control these elements.

    1. Joen says:

      I’m a little worried about the gestures to navigate full screen apps / mission control though. I saw int he keynote, the demo guy was struggling a little to get some gesture to work, but also what about people who don’t have touch/track pads? I hope were’ll be some intuitive keyboard shortcuts to control these elements.

      I have no doubt there will be a button to invoke MC, and shortcuts to switch between screens.

      As for the struggle of that guy, it’s because the magic mouse sucks. Have you tried one? I absolutely loathe it. The magic trackpad, however, seems to have found a usecase!

  2. matthew says:

    youll probably be able to drag to switch screens.

    Im quite amused and disappointed by the full screen option. Whilst its useful for single task functions like for me I go full screen in aperture to rate and alter photos, in general the necessarily modal (is that right) format of fullscreen, whereby youre restricted to that app and that window is very frustrating.
    Case in point, photoshop – even the tabbed windows is annoying and the full screen option positivly useless.
    As for ‘Mission Control’ – urgh nasty name.

    Im sure lots of the UX will change in the next 9-12 months.

    1. Joen says:

      Im quite amused and disappointed by the full screen option. Whilst its useful for single task functions like for me I go full screen in aperture to rate and alter photos, in general the necessarily modal (is that right) format of fullscreen, whereby youre restricted to that app and that window is very frustrating.
      Case in point, photoshop – even the tabbed windows is annoying and the full screen option positivly useless.

      That’s an interesting point.

      One use case for me is a maximized app and a windowed file explorer, then dragging a file from the file explorer to the app to open or view. I suppose that’s impossible with this type of fullscreen. I suppose you could lift a file, swipe towards one of your fullscreen apps, then release to open that file. But that wouldn’t be very pretty.

    2. Joen says:

      As for ‘Mission Control’ – urgh nasty name.

      Meh… I don’t care what they call it. Windows 7 added “Aero Snap” — it’s hard to find a nastier name than that, but the feature is so supremely useful that I’d hoped Apple had copied it.

      1. matthew says:

        Joen,

        I think theres a sys pref which does the Snap thing on the Mac, pretty sure I tried it and got annoyed with it. Maybe Im too disorganised window-wise but I like to have bits of windows poking out to click on.

        1. Joen says:

          matthew,

          I’m pretty sure something exactly like Aero Snap isn’t on OSX, which is why this app exists: http://www.irradiatedsoftware.com/cinch/

          1. matthew says:

            Joen,

            thats what i meant, third party.

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