Windows 8’s release is still more than two months away, but millions of people have already downloaded Windows 8 preview builds and realized that Windows 8’s tile-based, touch-friendly “Modern-style” UI (or whatever they’re calling it this week) is not for everyone. But is it simply because the typography-inspired interface is far too different for most people to accept readily, or is there something fundamentally wrong with the interface? We know most of you’d love to weigh in on this matter — despite having done it umpteen times already — but before that we’d like you to read what a leading usability expert feels about the whole Windows 8 experience.
After giving Google users a few months to get accustomed to the ongoing redesign of Google services, Mountain View has unleashed the designers on the one and only Gmail. The new Gmail UI is similar to the preview theme released in July, but makes better use of negative space. If you’ve seen the Reader, Docs, and Calendar redesigns, you’ll know what to expect.
Are you ready for that 3 a.m. phone call? You know, that 3 a.m. call from your sobbing parent, sibling, or acquaintance desperately asking for your help with a computer. It. Gets. Old.
Let’s admit it, for those computer-phobes, a personal computer with a fully featured and robust operating system isn’t right for either them or you. But in a world where not having access to email, Facebook, and the Internet puts you as far off the grid as the Unabomber, is there a way for these folks to have an easy, trouble-free computing lifestyle?
To find out, we looked at three machines—the Telikin Touch, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, and Apple's iPad 2—that just might be idiot-proof enough to keep even a complete computer-dufus from screwing things up.
Your eyes are absorbing this webpage. They're passing over this, this, then this word, right now. That's how reading works, online: you take this for granted. But what if you couldn't?
We grant our gaze to electronic screens for most of the day, and in return, they give us anything we want. We stare; they glow. We rarely speak, and neither do they.
And this makes sense! The internet is a boundless collection of text, images and video, channeled to flat pieces of glass and plastic, beamed through lens, retina, and nerve, all the way into our brains. It can show us anything, and for most web users, that's exactly what it does.
But for millions of others—those who are unable to see—the web is a wildly different place. Characters become sounds. Layouts are meaningless. Images are, at best, words, and at worst, blank spaces. And yet the blind browse the same internet as everyone else, every day. They use the same gadgets the sighted do, and happily. But how?
Google has been iterating Android at an astounding pace since it was first introduced in the fall of 2008. Barely a few months have passed in between releases, and now much of the feature set has been fleshed out. Ask most people familiar with the operating system what's still missing, and they'll probably say the user experience needs work. Google has apparently gotten the message, because sources within the Android team are saying the upcoming Gingerbread release will focus on improving the user interface.
The overall polish of the operating system has been a sore spot for the open source software. Apple's iPhone OS is much more tightly controlled, but more cohesive experience. Various third parties have tried to build skins for Android to clean up some of the rough edges. The most obvious example of this is HTC's Sense UI. Google may not be looking to squash these ventures, but maybe make them less necessary.
It's hard to build a really slick user interface when you have so many different devices floating around. But Google's recent hiring of Palm UI engineer Matias Duarte could be a sign the search giant is serious. We're looking forward to trying some tasty Gingerbread, but we haven't even had our Froyo (Android 2.2) yet.