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Isn't it Time for Something Really New in Touch Device Interfaces?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by zc1, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Skip down to the photos if you don't like reading ;) My goal was to get rid of app icons and folders from my homescreens and make them simply places to display information

    Is it time for a reinvention of the phone touch interface? Is it time for the homescreen to be for information rather than app and folder icons?

    Grids of icons with a dock have been around forever, going back to desktop computers. It has stuck around, with minor modifications (eg. folders) because it works, but it's not particularly attractive and I don't know that it's actually the most efficient way to do things on a touch interface. Voice has started to change the way we do things already, but it's still not really ideal to talk 'to' your phone/mobile device at home or in public.

    *All* phone OSs still use the same basic design. It's kind of stale, and what keeps me from switching to another OS. I was excited to see what BB10 would look like, but it's a variation on the same theme, just with their own gestures and obligatory social hub stuff added to the mix. RIM had a chance to do what Apple claims to do every year and actually change everything...but they opted not to do so.

    I admire what Microsoft did with WP8, tying together the desktop, tablet and phone. Interface-wise, though, tiles (live or not) are still just icons and widgets. One of Android's selling points is the ability to add widgets to make your homescreen(s) a bit more interesting/attractive/useful, but overall it's still essentially the same experience whether it's JellyBean or ICS. You still have a dock full of icons and widgets, still probably put a bunch of icons on your homescreens, and still have a notification bar.

    I decided to experiment with my phone a bit. My goal was for the home pages to be free of icons, and only serve as displays of information. I wanted to remove the status bar and dock as foci and let the experience centre around the content (eg family photos) & information on my homescreens.

    "Specs:" (lol)
    Lock Screen: WidgetLocker; swipe up = google now, left = camera, right = unlock; weather displayed via HD Widgets; email, messages, phone calls, agenda displayed via Executive assistant
    Launchers: Nova Launcher + Wave Launcher
    Special Settings: Hide notification bar, hide dock
    Home Pages: 6
    Home Page contents: Widgets only (clock & weather, agenda, reader/rss, evernote, tasks, family photos, etc; NO APPS)

    There are no apps or folders on any of the homescreens. As stated above, I decided that I wanted the homescreens to be solely for displaying information. I don't want to look at my app icons, or even folders containing my app icons. I've been doing that for years.

    Access to apps is two-fold:

    A. Gestures for most frequently-used apps
    -1 finger swipe down = notifications
    -1 finger swipe up = AquaMail
    -2 finger swipe down = Calendar
    -2 finger swipe up = browser; stock browser has bezel gestures enabled (swipe in from edges to get page controls)
    -double-tap = Google Now
    -two finger ccw swipe = Android settings
    -two finger clockwise swipe = Nova Launcher settings

    B. Wave Launcher for all other apps
    -accessible at all times, even when in another program
    -set up to bring up the 'wave' of launchable apps when I swipe in from the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Includes individual apps as well as folders; long-press in that area brings up the app drawer.

    It's an interesting experiment. I'm still getting used to the setup. Much of it is the same as before (eg. gestures). Some, though, like accessing apps exclusively through Wave Launcher, is a big change. I enjoy no longer having the notification bar and the applicatino dock dominating top and bottom of the screen, respectively.

    Notification Bar -- I used to have this displaying the time, battery percentage, signal strength, bluetooth and wifi activity. All of these things are available via widgets or don't need to be continually visible or frequently accessed. I know LTE, bluetooth and wifi are on. They're always on. I have a clock on my homescreen. I don't need to see the notification bar to know if I have new email, missed calls or new messages -- I have Executive Assistant on my homescreen and lockscreen showing me that.

    Dock -- It was a bunch of icons, either individual or folderized. It looked unattractive and just cluttered the homescreen. I can still access all of the programs that were in my dock, now via Wave Launcher. In addition, I don't have to be on a homescreen to do so. Wave Launcher is accessible at all times, even when I have an app open, just by touching the bezel hotspot that is set up for it. I think that's better, more efficient as far as multitasking is concerned. Wave Launcher can display your recent apps as well, but since JellyBean has that functionality already, I didn't bother.

    Here are some photos of my setup.

    Lock Screen (Slider Inactive then Activated)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Main Home Screen, Then With WaveLauncher Activated, Then Folders
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    WaveLauncher Activated While an App is Running

    Speed Dial Screen

    Notification Drop-Down Still Available if Needed

  2. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    So what do you think? Is it time for a re-invention of phone interfaces?

    Android is the fastest-developing OS of them all at this time, but it's still using the same basic philosophy. That's great for keeping things simple (to learn) but is it still the best way? Is voice the next step? Is it much ado about nothing?

    How is your phone set up, and what would be your ideal? Do you like having app icons and folders on your homescreen or should widgets and the display of information be the focus?

    I find it hard to look forward to each new OS release now because the overall philosophy continues to remain the same no matter what great new features are added.
  3. billythec11

    billythec11 Newbie

    I like the cleanliness of it. the swipes are a great idea. There used to be a lockscreen that you would swipe one of 8 ways to launch whatever.. very clever.

    My biggest gripe is that with Exchange Mail I need to use a PIN lock and most of these solutions fail there - unlock first then type in a code - yuk. Any great ideas there?

    Your work looks very promising.
  4. NeoGrandizer

    NeoGrandizer Android Expert

    LOL. You're bringing back memories of my Windows Mobile days. ;)

    Though a lot more polished and functional. It's like the Today screen revamped and revitalized to Android. Nice clean interface and look.

    Great work there. :thumbup:
  5. Corki2

    Corki2 Android Enthusiast

    Looks great! I use Executive Assistant on my home screen. I chose the default theme for it but minus the setting buttons in the uper right corner. I also chose to hide empty notification so they only display when there is a notification. uploadfromtaptalk1357094613124.jpg uploadfromtaptalk1357094627051.jpg
  6. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Thanks! I haven't seen that lockscreen, but with Widget locker you can actually add more options to the swipe to unlock. I just left it with the default three. Unfortunately no ideas for you as far as Exchange goes as my workplace doesn't use it so I've never had to set up an account! Hopefully someone else can chime in on that one. Thanks again for the encouraging words.

    Thanks! I just wanted a quick way to see everything that mattered at a glance, and Executive Assistant put it all together pretty close to exactly what I was wanting. Loads of options for sources of info in addition to the ones that I chose -- Google Reader, Tasks, Facebook, Twitter as well.

    Thanks! Great call on hiding the configure buttons. I completely forgot about that. Did that now and it cleaned things up significantly.
  7. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I forgot to mention SwipePad. I use this for a speed-dial list. Just as with WaveLauncher, I can swipe up from the bottom left corner (right corner for Wave Launcher) to bring up a list of people to direct dial.
  8. twister6

    twister6 Android Expert

    Not exactly the same, but with a similar philosophy I posted in another thread about my homescreen setup. Its down to a single page, although I do have scrollable dock bar and a few folders. Not too crazy about gesture shortcuts because I forget which one does what, but I do use click/swipe double function of Nova Launcher dock bar icons. Everything else is a number of overlapping widgets to give me at a glance info I need. The screencapture looks washed out because I re-saved it to make file smaller. Btw, I don't use WaveLauncher, but do use CircleLauncher (shows up as a gray cicle between battery and weather Circles).

    http://androidforums.com/5331107-post176.html - info about widgets I used.

  9. suprmallet

    suprmallet Android Enthusiast

    I find this really intriguing. Have you found that using all this stuff affects performance at all?
  10. NeoGrandizer

    NeoGrandizer Android Expert

    This should not hinder performance whatsoever. Everything is streamlined on only 1 homescreen with minimal Widgets. This should actually increase performance as there is little to refresh on the screen. Multiple homescreens with multiple Widgets can cause issues with performance. Limiting it to minimalist effect increases performance.
  11. DonB

    DonB ♡ Truth, Justice and the American Way !! ♡ ™

    Moved this to the AL as it was not specific to the Note 2 , cheers
    Rxpert83 likes this.
  12. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    No worries. Part of the reason it was posted there is that's where I hang out (that's what I use) and it's the first phone I've used that can do what I've done to it, still run without a hitch and still last an entire day. Samsung hit the nail on the head as far as optimizing power and battery life on the Note 2. I'd be interested to hear if others are able to do this (realistically) on other handsets, though.
  13. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    No, the Note 2 doesn't seem to be affected at all. I experience no change in speed and my battery still lasts all day. That's why I think it's finally time, then, to start changing the way things are done.

    I used Nova Launcher on my Note 1 as well, and it ran fine, gestures and all. What slowed it down was the widgets that I had spread out over my numerous homescreens. I didn't even try WaveLauncher or DialPad on that phone. I did try WaveLauncher on my Motorola Atrix, but wasn't blown away.

    I posted in another forum that it's astonishing how well the Note 2 works: I can use the Note 2 as advertised, without having to worry about turning off/disabling features in order to save the battery or eliminate lag. This phone spends its days with motion enhancements, Bluetooth, LTE, WiFi and sync (email, etc) on all the time and still gets me easily through the day. It's astonishing. It shouldn't be astonishing, but modern phones have us trained to think that it's not reasonable to expect a full day of 'full' use.
  14. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    This is interesting:

    Canonical announces Ubuntu for smartphones, we go hands-on

    Features quote:

    1. Edge magic: thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones.
    1. Deep content immersion - controls appear only when the user wants them.
    2. A beautiful global search for apps, content and products.
    3. Voice and text commands in any application for faster access to rich capabilities.
    4. Both native and web or HTML5 apps.
    5. Evolving personalised art on the welcome screen.
  15. BroncoDroid

    BroncoDroid Newbie

    I really like twister06's home screen and agree with the voice of the thread that we need it to be more about information and not just shortcuts to an application with the information.
  16. tsilvernail

    tsilvernail Newbie

    I love what you've done to your phone! Once my gnex arrives (yeah I know I'm a year late to that party, but I wasn't waiting 2 months+ to get a nex4) I think I might try that out.

    As for rethinking the overall theme, I don't see it happening any time soon, if at all. Especially on a large scale. The reason being, people like things to be 'easy' and remembering swipe gestures is hard for most people. The reason apple dominates with market share is because they made a device so simple that literally just about any human being on the planet can pick it up and start using it without much of a learning curve. As we all know, it's not a better product, it's just more simple for the everyman to use right out of the box.

    Android, IMO, has found the perfect blend between the two. It's simple to learn out of the box but if you are so inclined, the user can do what you've done to your phone. Customization is critical to androids life and it's evolution. I don't see that changing anytime soon.
  17. tsilvernail

    tsilvernail Newbie

  18. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Android Expert

    the first photos remind me of another archaic interface, Pocket PC OS. remember those? all your current appointments, app data (new emails, etc) showed up almost verbatim, had an HP Jornada that, other than the lock icon, was exactly the same.
  19. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    It's a long thread and you might not have read it all, but there was a previous comment about Windows Mobile. You can take that one up with the developers of Executive Assistant. I didn't design the widget.

    If you're complaining about the look then you've missed the point entirely. The point was moving from using a notification bar to something else. I happened to choose Executive Assistant to display information/notifications at a glance. It could be anything. I used Missed it as well, but EA displays more useful info.
  20. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Yes, sounds interesting and I'm looking forward to seeing more about it. I actually posted a similar article regarding the same announcement, 3 posts up from yours (post 14) in this thread. It popped up on the newsreader this morning.

    I think it'll be the most innovative OS in a while, and is basically exactly what I was getting at. Nothing at present makes good use of the touch interface. Too bad the Ubuntu phones are still over a year away!
  21. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Thanks. It's just a little experiment. As you mentioned, the main problem with any shift is getting people to (1) be willing to learn a new way of doing things and then (2) to actually do it. The swipe gestures take a bit of use to remember where they are, but it's no different, really, than remembering that your games are on homescreen 3 and your 'office' stuff is on homescreen 2. After using it for a bit it's not an issue.

    I hear you on the Nexus 4. I managed to secure one in the second round of ordering, but was in the '7-8 weeks until delivery' group. I ended up canceling my order a few days before Christmas and got the Note 2 instead using my upgrade through my carrier.
  22. Digital Controller

    Digital Controller The Real Bass Creator

    I think this looks really cool and I really like how it looks. I would definitely get something like this and try it out :)
  23. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Android Expert

    this thread gave me tons of ideas i just utilized on my phone and Kindle Fire. if there is one thing that makes Android lead it is the endless ability to transform to whatever OS or style you like. honestly there is no need for a more innovative OS since Android is only limited by your imagination. no two devices, as proved by the homescreen shot thread, are ever alike.

    are there limits? sure. i still cannot get the badge notifications to work right. (have to manually refresh, disable and re-enable accessibility, etc) and other features i want to clone from my iOS days still are not very well utilized or only work 10% of the time. i do hope some of those conveniences become standard and not requiring third-party apps to do. i really miss my badge counters--unclutters the notification bar, which we all know fills up rather fast
  24. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I agree with a lot of that. I still think there's room for more, though :)
    The Ubuntu phone OS looks outstanding. My only concern is that I expect that it won't be as customizable as Android, but that remains to be seen.
  25. zc1

    zc1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Actually speaking of iOS days, I had a program similar to WaveLauncher on my Jailbroken iPhone 3GS. I still have that phone, actually...should break it out and see what's new in Cydia...

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