Friday, 27 May 2011

Mobile UI Design ramblings...

Mobile UI design has come up a couple of times the past few days (as has Xamarin),
  • I'm looking to port an existing iOS app to Android - how 'same' should it look?
  • Nielsen Norman Group released their latest Useability of iPad Apps and Websites report
  • Ongoing discussion with @russaus seemed like a good time to make some notes (and for UI, read UX and IA as well :)

Porting apps...
Porting apps from one platform to another (iPhone to Android, iPad to Android, or to Windows Phone, or from 'web', etc) always brings with it a challenge to make each version feel 'native' and embrace the platform's UI idioms & metaphors (while simultaneously re-using as much code as possible and keeping your application consistent across each). This can be seen in previous posts on the MIX11 app and the Restaurant Guide sample being ported to iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7. Should the new Android app be a 'UI clone' of the iOS version? Should it be redesigned from scratch, removing any traces of iOS-ness? The answer is probably somewhere in between, being guided by your usability and branding goals, and by feedback from your users.
UPDATE: some thoughts on Why Are Android Apps Ugly? :-)

"Usability of iPad Apps and Websites": 2 reports
Coincidentally, while planning the UI for the Android app, Nielson Norman Group released an updated Usability Report for iPad Apps and Websites. The new edition (and the previous) are great reads (free to download) - some points will seem obvious, some will trigger "a-ha" moments and other's you'll disagree with; but overall you'll probably find it worthwhile to download them both.

There are a couple of great websites worth looking at when you are doing UI design
  • is a cool collection of screenshots from iPhone apps grouped into 'UX categories' like User Profiles and Lists. My favorite is Empty Data Sets - so often overlooked! (by @mari18)
  • is a more general collection (ie. not mobile) with categories like Getting Input and Navigation. It is a LOT deeper in terms of content (articles/discussion as well as screenshots) and likely to be thought-provoking no matter what platform you're working on. (follow @uipatternscom
  • UPDATE: Windows Phone 7 for Designers — Cheat Sheet kinda similar to the mobile-patterns site above but for Windows Phone. Poster-layout for easy printing/reference (by @teppo).

...and what about that whole MonoTouch/MonoDroid 'thing'?
Novell (Attachmate) says (my underline)
Focusing on what matters most to customers is the key to our innovation strategy and will drive the growth of our business. This has meant reductions in certain areas, such as Mono. However, Mono remains part of the SUSE business and should customer demand for Mono products accelerate, our development efforts will rapidly respond. Regardless, we will continue to provide maintenance and support for all Mono products – MonoTouch, Mono for Android, Mono Tools for Visual Studio and SUSE Linux Enterprise Mono Extension.
But it sounds disingenuous considering they have already sacked the entire team... and WTF does "should...demand...accelerate" mean? How is demand going to grow when they've killed any chance of enhancing the product and do not market it?? If they were truly "Focusing on what matters most to customers" they wouldn't have sacked the engineers in the first place, or else should have released/sold/transferred the Touch/Droid IP to Xamarin where it has some hope of a future (IMHO, anyway). </2centsworth>

Also, in related news, @migueldeicaza announced that Nat Friedman has joined Xamarin as CEO. Nat previously worked with Miguel as a co-founder of Ximian.

p.s. I'm *guessing* that we will be saying goodbye to the MonoTouch and Mono for Android product names since Novell probably owns them... wondering what I should use for Twitter hashtags now to replace #monotouch and #monodroid? Something with an 'X'? :)

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