Continuing on the OS2008 and N810 improvements, we added a hardware keyboard on the device and tweaked our input methods to take advantage of this. Of course we are pleased if the on-screen input methods were already sufficient for some users – hey, they’re not so bad after all ;) – but there are clear benefits of having tactile hardware keys. The N810 keyboard slideout mechanics are also quite impressive: to achieve an even thinner device with an additional keyboard is a nice feat. All the on-screen input methods are still available for the N800 upgraders. I personally find my N810 much more useful because of the hardware keyboard.

We also believe that the question of text input isn’t about 100% on-screen or hardware key use: that’s why we added the option of utilizing a part of the touch screen whilst using the hardware keyboard at the same time. You don’t have to use these features: feel free to type whole words, but right now you can also select word completions and next word predictions, quite conveniently without moving your hands too much. You can turn these on-screen features also off if you prefer to have all the space for the application.

An issue that has been quite often commented is the changed placement of the rocker key, from the front cover of the N800 to the keyboard part of the N810. It wasn’t an easy decision, but ultimately we feel that it was the right one. With that we could make the overall device width smaller – and that’s a definite advantage – and provide cursor key usage for actually inputting text. Otherwise we would have needed to duplicate this functionality on the keyboard. And it’s a part of the bigger development towards touch screen usability and finger usability. Not having the rocker there doesn’t give us or any developer an excuse to not to focus on improving the touch screen and finger usage.

Hey, we aren’t yet fully there, but the direction is certainly clear. We certainly appreciate all the positive comments as well as the criticisms and suggestions for future improvements. If you have any thoughts about the keyboard or the text input methods, feel free to comment here.


roope

OS2008 – more Xmas presents

December 18, 2007

Hi. Few more words about UI improvements in some applications and not forgetting additional wallpapers you can try with new OS2008 :)

You can now use finger sized arrows in PDF reader’s full screen mode to change between pages. Page changing is as easy as switching through images in image viewer. In chat application’s side, layouts have got some updates and new features were added like support for avatars & instant messaging through SIP. Smiley selector in chat is also bigger to be more easily used by fingers. Selecting right contact from contacts list is now faster by using live filtering where only contacts matching the inputted characters will be displayed. Get the OS2008 to personally test these and other new improvements. Keep the comments and ideas coming; we are always interested to get feedback.

Wallpapers:

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

-Marko

(Note to planet maemo which sees just the first chapter: The post contains wallpapers for your enjoyment! :-)) 

So, the new internet tablet OS is finally out of our hands. One of the most apparent changes is the transparency in the theme – the panels are now translucent and show the wallpaper through. This works nicely as you can change the appearance of the theme quite radically by just trying out different kinds of background images. The applets on the home screen also look nicer since they blend smoothly to the background. Or at least we think they look nicer than before :^)

The theme is also visually much cleaner, I tried to achieve a simple, elegant look that would go with the smoother design of the device itself. Hopefully you all like the end result – I am pretty happy with how it worked out. We also tried to improve the finger-usability some more, as with the N810, at least I find it cumbersome to keep the stylus around while I am using the keyboard to type – it’s more natural to just reach the screen with either thumb when needed. Sure, there’s still room for improvement, but I think it is already better than before.

As some of us in the user interface team are enthusiastic photographers, we decided to make a little christmas present and dug into our photo folders, looking for nice stuff to be usable as wallpapers. Hopefully you enjoy them :-) The following images are from my photos, others will likely post a few more in the following days.

Frosty Leaves

“Frozen leaves” is was taken near my home a few years ago

Driving in Vermont

“Driving in Vermont” is from a photo trip with Garrett and Jakub during the Boston Gnome Summit a few years ago

Stage

“Stage” is from a theatre in Bangkok, Thailand

Lauttasaari Sunset

“Sunset” is from Lauttasaari, Helsinki, this autumn

To use them, click the images to go to their flickr page, select the “all sizes” and download the largest (800×480 pixels) version to your internet tablet. You can change the wallpaper by tapping the menubar in the home screen and selecting “Set background image..”. They all are the correct size, so “centered” mode is the way to go.

- Tuomas

Greetings from Helsinki!

August 29, 2007

It was nice to meet so many old friends and new people in Guadec. We had lots of great discussions and got valuable feedback and ideas about our Maemo user interface.

We try to take a more active role in the developer community, hoping to better support application developers from UI point of view. And we are also looking forward to participate in the creation of Gnome Mobile together with the rest of the community, sharing our experiences and the lessons we have learned while developing a mobile device with a touchscreen.

Hopefully you were all present in Ari Jaaksi’s keynote speech, where he explained many of the challenges we face when creating a product to be sold in stores. It hopefully made it a bit easier to understand why it sometimes takes so long to get improvements or new ideas included into our products.
We hope to have lively dialogue with you in the future. This is of course meant for everyone, not just those of you who were in Guadec!

Jenni & Tuomas
“Beauty and the Beast”

;)

Hello everyone. Silence means busy – and busy is of course good, in many ways. We’re busy with a lot of new stuff. :)

Personally I’ve also been busy with writing my master’s thesis document. And hooray: it’s finally done. Since the subject material is closely tied to the Maemo UI, I thought I’d post it about here. Basically the thesis deals with the design and principles behind the text input methods, more specifically the virtual keyboard, designed for the Nokia 770 and subsequent products. It discusses the topic of touch screen text input both from theoretical and practical sides.

It can be found from the Maemo site, here:

http://maemo.org/intro/presentations/text_input_on_mobile_devices-master-s_thesis_document.html

If you get any ideas, questions, rants/raves from reading this thesis, I would be happy to hear them and discuss. Additionally, if you have any thoughts you would like to share about the current touch screen text input methods found in the devices – irrespective of this thesis – I’d also like to discuss about those. This includes at least the virtual keyboard, handwriting recognition, full screen keyboard and the bluetooth keyboard.

Best regards,

Roope Rainisto

Hi. One thing that we would also like to do is to promote and review some of the best and most interesting installable applications from our Maemo users and community developers that are currently out there. Naturally there are many available (check out the Maemo site or your local Application manager app), and we can’t unfortunately highlight all of them, but let’s start anyway. This is not a official Nokia company endorsement or a seal of approval, but just a review from one designer and user. :)

Maemopad+, from Kemal Hadimli, is a combined note taking and sketching application. It allows the user to write down notes and draw sketches as memos and save them for later use and reference.

Nice things:
– It is nicely hildonized. The menus, toolbars and other UI elements work rather closely to what is the current system style. The application feels stable also. Nice work.
– One data file supports multiple memos. It is fast to switch between multiple pages and do edits to individual memo files.
– Sketching is nice and smooth. There are multiple brush sizes, a nice full range color picker and all the drawing tools that you need.
– The multiple undo feature works nicely.
– Exporting. The user is able to then get out the data in the application. This is naturally very important. :)

Improvement ideas:

- One of the potentially nicest features of this application is the “Pressure sensitive brush color” feature. If the user draws with a light touch, the colour is then lighter. (I wish more people and applications would be utilizing this feature!) Unfortunately at least with my current device the calibration seems a bit off – anything more than the very lightest touch results in the full color being drawn. It would be good if the defaults would be changed, or if the user could manually adjust this setting.
– The New memo dialog is slightly confusing, especially with the ability to give a sketch name to a text file and vice versa. Perhaps it could be simplified to simply have a selection between note, sketch and task list and not have separate radio buttons and tabs in the same dialog.
– The sketching canvas size cannot be changed. (Or then I didn’t find a way to do this.)
– The sketch toolbar could be improved somewhat. Right now it doesn’t indicate which tool the user is actually using (line, freeform etc.) – unless the tool is the eraser tool. Check out the device Sketch application for this.
– No importing. As Elaine asks in a Seinfeld episode: “Just imports? No exports?” They would certainly go hand in hand.
– First time user experience. When I started this application for the very first time, it asked me whether I want to create a new database and asked to save a file name. Perhaps a smoother experience would be to automatically create one for the user, even create a new text and sketch memo there, as not to start with a completely blank page.

Other thoughts:
– At least for my personal use the ability to create childnodes with infinite depth is “too powerful”. I could live with even a simpler structure of just having multiple pages in a flat hierarchy.
– Thumbnails for the sketch pages would be really nice.
– Integration with other applications and tasks: What to do with the sketches? Could there be more easy ways to send these sketches to contacts or other devices without having to first manually export them outside the application.

Anyways, even now it’s a very nice application for many users. If you have a need for note taking or sketching, go and check out Maemopad+.

Rants and raves

April 18, 2007

Hi everyone. This blog as such might not be the most ideal forum for this, but if you have specific comments (rants/raves/questions) about individual parts or aspects of the current UI design, feel free to give your comments here.

However, if you have found something that is clearly a bug, please use our public bugzilla tracking system, found at http://maemo.org/bugzilla . Yes, we could and should do a better job of tracking and utilizing that system, but we’re trying to improve on that also.

Hello and good morning

April 13, 2007

Hello world! This is a new blog of the Nokia Maemo user interaction design team. Maemo is the software platform that is running in the current range of the Nokia internet tablet products. Since many of our software comrades are already blogging about their own work, it’s high time that we start our own blog.

We’ll be blogging about the various topics and issues relating to the user interface and user interaction design that we come across in our work.

However, since blogging is about direct feedback and communication, if you have any suggestions on what kinds of issues and topics would you want us to blog about, please comment and give your ideas. We’ll try our best to answer and discuss the topics that you want to hear about.

This WordPress account will be our temporary home away from home. Once we get the official Maemo site upgraded and fully functional, this blog will then probably move to that address. This will be a shared blog, with multiple persons writing entries and giving replies. We are individuals with differing personalities, so take everything we say with a healthy grain of salt. Absolute truths are very rare in the world of interaction design.When we’re not blogging, we’re busy designing new things and improving the current designs, so please have some patience with us. :)

On behalf of the interaction design team,


roope rainisto

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