Google Wallet looks all glaad

google_wallet

Google Wallet is the all new “wave your smartphone to pay” solution from Google. The logo is a stylized W (for “wallet” one would assume) which kinda looks like soundwaves, or perhaps radiowaves from a Near-Field Communication chip. Similarly, the GLAAD logo evokes both communication and amplification.

The GLAAD logo was first, by the way.

Here's An Idea: The Icons For Developers Program

Android and iOS devices have exploded in app usage over the last few years. Both of these operating systems bring app icons front and center. Large finger-friendly icons invite us to start a phone call, play a game or jot down a note. It’s all very polished and pretty.

Android_icons

Well it’s not all polished and pretty. Some apps, while they may be superbly built and infinitely useful, their icons aren’t very pretty. Perhaps the developers simply didn’t find the icon important, perhaps they lacked the resources to give an icon the attention it deserves. The result may be an app that doesn’t look as pretty as it is useful.

Here’s an idea: those of you who possess the time and skills to build a proper icon for your aesthetically orphaned but still favourite app — why not actually make that icon and offer it to the developer for free? In fact, why not have a central website, called “The Icons For Developers Program”, where designers can submit icon replacements to developers? Hell, why not let developers put out their own requests for icons? It should all be free in the name of pretty.

Has this already been done? Could it be useful, or would it simply fullfill a niche desire? Your thoughts are welcome.

Limbo

screenshot02

Launched yesterday is a brand-spanking new-material-laden WordPress website for Limbo, an artistic, sidescrolling platformer. Limbo is engineered by Copenhagen-based Playdead Games which I’m proud to call my neighbours. As you can see from the screenshot above, the game is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s even better-looking when it’s moving, so you should definately check out the newest trailer on the website, and this gameplay footage from Gametrailers.com.

The Branding Of Google Chrome

Google is firing all its cannons with its Chrome browser. It’s out for all the major platforms, and it’s even got a dedicated operating system in development. Part of such a cross-platform effort is a strong need for visual branding — a unique look which will subconsciously tell the user which browser they’re using. For two reasons, I’ll talk about Google Chromes branding today; first and foremost, to illustrate that a tab is not just a tab. Secondly, because Chrome has recently changed branding in a few key areas (which serves to illustrate the first reason).

A Tab Is Not Just A Tab

My good friend Chris called me on referring to Google Chromes tab design “unique” and “branding”:

@noscope It’s a tab. Of course that needs to be there. I don’t see what anyone could do to change that or, make it look brand specific.

Let’s look at Google Chrome at launch:

Google_Chrome_UI

Google Chrome (development channel) today:

Google_Chrome_UI_april_2010

Aside from the addition of an extensions pane, we notice a number of changes:

  • The frontmost tab and toolbar is now monochrome as opposed to bluish previously.
  • The reload button is now integrated in the addressbar field, and the favourite star has been moved inside the addressbar.
  • I can’t recall if the old version would show the site favicon also in the addressbar, but in the newest version you’ll see the favicon only on the tab.
  • Did you notice the Google logo is gone?1.

What’s interesting here, is what Google did not change. And that is what I would argue is the most important branding. The tab design and layout.

Tintins Silhuette

Comic artists have worked for decades to create unique silhuettes for easily identifiable characters. Here’s comic artist Hergés Tintin:

Tintin

If they made a movie, do you think they’d leave out this silhuette?

Games do it. Team Fortress 2, notably:

TF2

In the same vein, for software, the wireframe is the silhuette of the application. Here’s Firefox 4s wireframe look:

Firefox_4_wireframe

Clearly, the wave in browser interface design is tabs on top and minimal UI to save space for web-apps. It must’ve been a challenge for the Firefox designers (good job, by the way) to revamp towards this norm yet keep Firefox branding intact. Looking at the wireframe, the standout Firefox branding is now the App button and the Home Tab. The back/forward “keyhole” design not present on this wireframe is also an important Firefox branding element.

Usability Is Not A Jackson Pollock Painting

The design of the Chrome interface may be grounded in a rethinking of the browser — webpages are apps, tabs are app buttons — but the unique tab design is not an accident. Look:

Chrome_design ChromeOS_design

One of the above is a Windows app, the other is a standalone OS. Sure, it’s iconified, but it illustrates the uniqueness of the tabs. These images are from the Chromium project’s Visual Design article, which also gives the following explanation for the design:

While it doesn’t show through today, we drew early inspiration from The Designers Republic’s work on the then-Psygnosis games WipEout and WipEout 2097; the focus on blinding speed, and iconography that could be recognized instantly even in the depths of your peripheral vision were both key attributes we admired.

The word “branding” may be thrown around a lot, these days. But in the case of the mysterious Google  Chrome tabs, I would consider it appropriate.


  1. There’s a chance it’s gone because this is the dev channel, and that it’s present in the stable channel — I cannot say because I’m running only the dev channel. But my guts say it’s gone for good  

Thursdays Mouse Tracks

This is the path my mouse has travelled today. The dots indicate where my mouse took a rest. Dotsize, the rest duration.

mousePath-14_33_29

This is all done using Anatoly Zenkovs Mouse Tracks, a little Java application records your mouse and draws pretty pictures.

Some observations:

  • Paul Fitt will be happy to note my excessive use of screen edges.
  • The bottom is the start-bar, which means app launching.
  • The bottom right is the tray.
  • Oddly, it seems I haven’t closed any maximized apps using the top-right close buttons.

Pings and comments are open. Show me your tracks.