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

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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