So sad. A wonderful visionary and bringer of good things. We'll miss you.
So sad. A wonderful visionary and bringer of good things. We'll miss you.
There are two styles of table views in iOS: plain and grouped.
Plain tables are defined as "rows that extend from side edge to side edge of the screen": they're used to display an unbroken list of items and are typically found in productivity apps. Grouped tables are "groups of rows that are inset from the side edges of the screen": their main purpose is to group related content into visually distinct sections, a typical example being the Settings view of an app.
Most apps do a brilliant job of keeping the two sets of tables distinct - but as with most things, there are always exceptions... the apps that blur the line between plain and inset tables.
MovieQuest is an example of an app that blurs the line.
You'll see that with both views, the tables are inset from the edges - which, by my reckoning, makes them grouped tables. But is there any justification for calling the MovieQuest view a grouped table? I don't think there is. There are items within the table that could, conceiveably, be grouped, but to treat the entire table as a group just doesn't make sense.
The same goes for The Dark Knight view: the tabs do an effective job of grouping the content... so why go the extra mile and inset it as well?
My guess is that the designers liked the look of the inset tables and decided to go with their instincts, regardless. You can argue the toss but, to me, going with your instincts is risky and can sometimes result in a quesionable decision, or one that doesn't quite work. That's pretty much how I feel about this app - which is not to say that it's a bad looking app. It's really not: I just wish the designers had paid more attention to Apple's guidelines.
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The audacity of the design is what first grabs your attention: it's bold, it's bright, the colour palette is vibrant and zingy, and the snaking table a joy to use.
But is it an example of a really good idea that hasn't quite found its feet? The answer, sadly, is probably yes.
For all its ingenuity and invention, the app falls down when it comes to usability - not by a huge amount and to be honest, it hasn't stopped me from using it. But it did take an age to figure out - time that I could have spent on using it, productively, which is annoying.
I don't think it would take a lot to fix it, but until then, what should have been a truly great app is, for me, a very promising one.
John Gruber on Amazon's new Kindles:
It's all about the content, though. That's the difference that other tablet makers missed. Motorola, Samsung, RIM - they seem to be chasing the iPad on specs, building the best tablet they can manage at the same starting price of around $500. But they have no clear message telling people what you can do with them.
I think Gruber nails it.
The Android press is dominated by articles about product releases, hands-on reviews of the said products, previews of products that have still to be released, and why the latest product from Samsung and not the one released yesterday by Motorola is the dog's bollocks.
By comparison, the content - the apps and services that make your phone characterful and memorable - receives relatively little attention. It makes the job of finding good apps a lot harder - much more so than with iOS.
Until yesterday's announcement, I was not at all confident of a change in how the content is presented (and had thought several times about dropping the Android gallery), but with the arrival of the new Kindles, I think we may have turned a corner.
As a rule, the standard tab bar contains no more than five tabs. If you want to include more tabs, there are several possible solutions. The one preferred by Apple is to add a "More" tab. It's a pragmatic solution, but it comes at a small cost: to accomodate the tab, you need to use one of your five existing tabs, leaving you with just four tabs. It also has the effect of changing the navigational model, since items that were previously shown as tabs are now displayed in a table view.
Another solution is to use scrolling tab bars. They're fairly common on Android, but much less so on iOS and, to date, I have found only three examples of apps that use them. Importantly, the iOS SDK does not support scrolling tab bars, so developers must either roll their own or use a component library.
The last solution is to use a collapsable tab of the kind pioneered by Tweetbot.
According to the makers of Tweetbot, the "last two tabs in Tweetbot are not only customisable, they are effortlessly swappable'. You'll need to look carefully as it is not immediately clear that the tabs are customisable, but the clue is the reveals to the right. When you tap and hold these tabs, a stack springs into view. The stack shows four additional icons, each of which can be used to customise the tab. Select one of these icons and it moves to the bottom of the stack, where, in effect, it becomes the 'pole' tab.
It's a very neat idea... and from what I can see, one that could easily be repurposed as a More tab.
Here's what I have in mind.
When you tap and hold the reveal/More tab, a stack pops into view (Drawing 1). The stack is populated with tabs. Selecting a tab will move it to the base of the stack, the pole position, just as it does with Tweetbot. You can swap the tab for any of the other tabs in the stack, all of which will behave in exactly the same way.
As a variation on this idea, it may not be necessary to swap the tabs around: you could just as easily keep the More tab at the bottom and the stack as a fixed list (Drawing 2). Note, however, that with the fixed list, the stack can be operated only by the More tab, not the other tabs in the stack - hence the extra tab.
Both options seem doable. If you have any thoughts/feedback, please fire away.
I want to take this blog in a slightly different direction and have deleted several of my previous posts. Bear with me and all will become clear.
No other app quite captures the spirit of the iPhone like Tweetbot. The colours harmonise brilliantly with the black and chrome of the phone, while the clicking and whirring noises that you hear when tapping a button or refreshing the timeline make it a truely immersive experience... one that leaves you wondering if beneath the screen there are levers and cogs that genuinely move!
In the main, tab bars tend to be treated as a separate element to the rest of an app: they sit at the bottom in their own little window and will only change when you interact with them directly. Most of us are not especially bothered by tab bars, but for young children they may prove more of a challenge. It's a problem that the creators of My Story: Story creator for kids have clearly thought about, and their solution is both beautiful and engaging. Instead of making the bar a separate element, they have placed it within the body of the app - literally! by recessing it into the wood surround. You can imagine a child's reaction on seeing the recess and how, with very little encouragement, they will begin to explore it with their fingers, a process that will quickly familiarise them with the buttons.
An interesting innovation from the creators of the upcoming Turntable app. In keeping with their metaphor of "rooms" for sharing and listening to music, they have called the Back (or Home) button the "Lobby". According to the OED, a lobby is "a room providing a space out of which one or more other rooms or corridors lead, typically one near the entrance of a public building". It strikes me that "a space out of which one or more other rooms or corridors lead" more accurately reflects the flow of an app than the more usual designations, Back or Home. I wonder if it will catch on.