Posts tagged "apple"

Mac OS X Lion: Welcome back Spaces

One of my biggest gripes with Mac OS X Lion was the elimination of Spaces. Specifically, I wrote about how I was a big fan of using a 3×3 Spaces layout because it allowed me to use keyboard shortcuts to quickly switch between each Space. For example, I would place my browser in Space 1, mail client in Space 4, and common work-related tasks in Space 2, which let me switch up, down, and right between my most used apps. When in Space 1, that would allow me to switch between two workspaces easily (compared to one in Lion). If I was on Space 2, however, I could switch between three workspaces just as quickly (compared to two in Lion).

Mission Control

With Lion, Apple moved into the Desktop era powered by Mission Control, where each Desktop is aligned horizontally next to the previous one (see above). This required a pretty fundamental shift in how I organized my workspaces but more so, in terms of how I’d navigate between them. Where Spaces allowed me to be keyboard-driven, with Lion I’ve become almost exclusively reliant on my Magic Mouse or Trackpad. Primarily, I now click the application I want to go to via my Dock, which brings me to the corresponding Desktop where it resides (all my applications are assigned to a Desktop). The second means is Mission Control, where I use Hot Corners via a drag to the bottom left Screen Corner and then click on the desired Desktop. Even with Mission Control keyboard shortcuts, I’ve found these two means to be the fastest way to get from Desktops that are multiple workspaces away from each other.

ReSpaceThankfully, I’m welcoming Spaces to Lion starting today due to a great new app called ReSpaceApp (thanks, Lifehacker). Currently in beta, ReSpaceApp brings Spaces back to Lion, mapping Desktops to the grid layout allowed in Spaces. In my case, I had six Desktops, so ReSpaceApp allowed me to create my 3×3 grid Space configuration again. ReSpaceApp also has a handful of preferences beyond layout, including keyboard shortcuts, transition type (if you’re daring, try something other than the traditional “Slide”), and transition speed.

To no fault of ReSpaceApp I did have to reassign all of my applications to different Desktops because of the fundamental differences between Desktops and Spaces. So, for example, my Desktop 2 mapped to Space 4, Desktop 3 mapped to Space 2, etc. There’s still some muscle memory leftover from the Spaces days but the most difficult part of using ReSpaceApp right now is that remapping and seeing a different Desktop ordering in Mission Control than I’ve been used to the last eight months or so (again, not its fault). Perhaps, in a couple of weeks, I’ll once again forget about Mission Control for switching Desktops and be back to zipping through Deskto…Spaces with my keyboard shortcuts. For that, ReSpaceApp is a welcome addition to my app arsenal.

New iOS Design Pattern: Slide-out Navigation

Facebook fan page iphone appBack when Facebook first hit the iPhone in August 2007, it introduced the “dashboard” layout pattern to iOS. Many applauded the dashboard as a fresh take against the standard tab bar and a number of apps began following this pattern. Over time though, it proved to be a frustrating way of navigating because it requires the user to leave their current state to get to another part of the application. Additionally, it required paging the navigation as it grew, meaning additional gestures were needed before an item could be selected. The dashboard is largely extinct for iOS now but unfortunately, this pattern has become entrenched in Android.

With the launch of Facebook for iPad, Facebook has again introduced a new mobile pattern for navigation and this time they’ve created something simpler and more elegant: slide-out navigation. More significantly, this pattern has quickly gained traction and is now being used by more than several notable iOS apps.

Slide-out Navigation

On its blog, Facebook described its new navigation pattern—available on Facebook for iPad, as well as Facebook for iPhone 4.x—as “left-hand navigation.” I’ve chosen “slide-out” navigation because it is more descriptive and universal (e.g., Path includes it on the left and right side). I’m defining slide-out navigation as follows:

Slide-out navigation consists of a panel that “slides out” from underneath the left or the right of the main content area, revealing a vertically independent scroll view that serves as the primary navigation for the application.

SlideoutUp to this point, the slide-out navigations available in the App Store have typically consisted of a panel (menu) that groups related views together, breaking them apart through headers. The default views provided by the application have been placed at the top of the panel. Facebook’s headers include Favorites, Apps, Pages, Lists, and a non-labeled help area.

Fb close 2Facebook implemented its slide-out nav via a list button, with the left panel always snapping out to a single, fully extended position. Once the left panel is visible, it can be closed by either tapping the list button, by touching the mostly hidden main content area, or by swiping that area left. For that final closing action, any swipe left—even if it’s very minor (i.e., a flick)—will close the panel. These nuances are important, as the other implementations are observed.

Other Implementations


Gmail for iOS was the next app to implement a slide-out navigation. Considering it launched several weeks after Facebook for iPad came out, it’s not clear how much Facebook actually influenced it. Its main functionality is the same but it does have several distinctions. The first is that instead of a list button, it uses a back button labeled with “Menu.” In my opinion, that is the biggest eyesore with Gmail for iOS. Secondly, it’s possible to swipe or drag right on the main content area to open the left panel. And finally, the left panel can expand or contract to a minimum and maximum size respectively.



Path 2.0 is one of the most innovative iPhone apps to hit the App Store in some time. With all it’s flourishes, transition animations, and polish, it clearly received a lot of love and attention on even the smallest details. It’s slide-out navigation closely resembles Facebook’s, with a list button being used. But unlike Facebook, they include a swipe right gesture to see the left panel, similar to Gmail for iOS. They don’t, however, allow left panel resizing.

One minor annoyance regarding their slide-out nav is that the main content area and the list button actually don’t provide the minimum tappable target sizes suggested by Apple when in its expanded position. As far as I can tell, they’re roughly 40 pixels instead of the suggested 44 pixels. Beyond being slightly less gesture-friendly, the byproduct is that the list button is also partially cutoff.

Fvp 1

My final comment regarding Path is that it’s arguable whether it really requires a slide-out navigation at all. Generally, it’s more useful when there are many content views, especially ones that can grow dynamically, as is in the case with Facebook and Gmail (e.g., Gmail labels).

Authentic Jobs

The Authentic Jobs app was featured by Apple back in early December 2011 and its version of a slide-out navigation is probably one reason why. Technically, it doesn’t fit the definition above, but it’s effectively providing the same user experience.

Authentic Jobs uses an item button in place of the list but more significantly, does not slide the view when that item button is tapped. Instead, it provides a popover-like view with a vertically scrollable list.


Astrid is another iPhone app that opts for using an item over the list button but it then follows Facebook’s slide-out interaction pattern exactly.

Concluding Notes

These patterns help formulate how to properly implement a slide-out navigation. Should it be a navigation scheme implemented in your iOS app, there is some leeway and flexibility available, as shown with these examples. But, there are at least four best practices that should be followed:

  1. Slide-out navigation is best served in content-related apps, especially when there are many views that can grow dynamically.

  2. Use a list or item button to trigger the panel or popover (i.e., not a back button like in Gmail for iOS).

  3. When the navigation panel is in the expanded state, ensure the minimum width of the mostly hidden main content area consists of at least a 44 pixel wide tap target size (i.e., not like Path).

  4. Keep the opening and closing gestures for the slide-out navigation consistent with these observed patterns; snapping the panel closed versus making the panel resizable is winning the day, at least for now.

Thank you, Mr. Jobs

There’s not much more to write that hasn’t already been written. Today, I get to do what I do because he dared to “Think Different.”

His return to Apple saved it from oblivion. And then we got the world-changing products: Not just the Mac, which had redefined what a “personal computer” was in the ’80s, but the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

Jason Snell

And so more than ever, I find myself inspired. Steve’s untimely death reminds us we can never give up. He could have given up at any point in the seven years since his first cancer diagnosis, but he did not. The vast majority of Apple’s unprecedented resurgence took place while Steve Jobs stared death in the face. How many of us could have lasted this long at all, let alone accomplish all that he did along the way?

Matt Drance

I am thankful for Steve’s life and what he accomplished. But I also remember that he was still just a man, like all of us. We continue by seeking to live with intention, by loving those around us, pursuing our dreams, trusting our gut, and remembering that life is fragile.

Shawn Blanc

But I always thought…for him to die young, it seemed so strange because for other people of his magnitude like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, you sort of feel like we wrung everything out of them. They were old when they died. But for Steve Jobs, you really got the sense like, ‘Ahhhh!!!! We’re not done with you yet.’ And it was this sense that, what are we supposed to do now? What’s next?’ It’s sort of like an alien that comes down and gives you this new technology and then kind of shows you how to use it and then takes off in a spaceship. And then your like, ‘Ahhhh!!!! What’s this green button?’ Strange. Unusual character and we won’t see the likes of him for quite some time.

Jon Stewart

But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I’ll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.

Vic Gundotra

Just 14 years ago, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy…[b]ut that was just the start of Apple’s return to glory, the greatest corporate comeback story of all time, led by Steve Jobs.

Business Insider

Cupertino council woman,

‘People are curious, how can this city residence benefit from this new campus?’

Steve Jobs,

‘Well, we’d liked to stay in Cupertino and keep paying our taxes….if we can get out of taxes, we’d be glad to put up free Wi-Fi.’

Steve Jobs, presenting to the Cupertino City Council (6/7/11)

This moving video was created by Apple employees for Steve Jobs’ 30th birthday on February 24, 1985. The five-minute movie contains a slew of images of Steve that we’ve never seen before — as a baby; as a toddler on his bike; with friends and colleagues — and is a fitting testament to the way in which Apple workers viewed their great leader.

Cult of Mac

Who wants a stylus?

Steve Jobs, at the introduction of the iPhone (via Johh Gruber)

Steve’s last keynote, last words,

‘So go at it, have a great week, and thank you very much for coming this morning.’

(via David Smith)

Let’s Talk iPhone – By the Numbers

Here are the key numbers from yesterday’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event.


Users: 58M


Devices: 250m
iPhones: Half on the market are iPhone 4’s
App Store: >500k apps; 140k iPad apps


App Store: 18b; $3b paid to developers

If you compare these numbers to the WWDC keynote just four months ago (or so), what stands out to me is that there is a 55% increase in the total number of iPad apps (90k iPad apps then).

For more comprehensive stats and visuals, see MacStories post The (Big) Numbers Apple Touted At Their iPhone Event.

Apple and The Paradox of Choice

Phone Too MuchAhead of the “Let’s talk iPhone” event tomorrow, it’s possible that Apple may indeed unveil two iPhones: a 8GB version of the iPhone 4 and the new “iPhone 4S,” which is just an update to the iPhone 4. That really equates to one new iPhone and a new flavor of the iPhone 4. This approach continues to match with Apple’s iPhone and larger product strategy that less is more. And it’s this paradox of choice that is helping them win the mobile market.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the book Paradox of Choice lays out why having too many purchasing options is actually crippling to consumers. Americans in particular face angst when looking at the seemingly infinite number of options to make purchases. For example, at a local grocery market author Barry Schwartz finds 75 iced teas and 285 varieties of cookies. Then consider the paradox of choice at work for larger and more expensive purchases, such as electronics or cars. Nearly everything is customizable and the stress of making a decision can be paralyzing.

Apple has largely removed this complexity from their purchasing process. In fact, the iPad 2 launch was probably their most complicated iOS product to date. Consumers had to choose a color, size, and what kind of network capabilities they wanted. If they wanted a Wi-Fi + 3G model, they then had to select AT&T or Verizon.

Still, selecting a particular version from those twenty-four different possible combinations is only a decision that must be made once a consumer believes he wants an iPad. Essentially, the choice is a single iPad versus any other tablet. The paradox of choice is at least one reason the latest numbers have 25M iPads on the market compared to 3M tablets of everything else.

iPad 2From a development perspective, the paradox of choice also makes building apps for iOS significantly easier, because in general, there are at most about three generation of devices that need to be supported. But it could be possible to get away with two. For example, at the moment most of the non-tablet market could be covered by supporting third and fourth generation iPod touches and iPhones (i.e., the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4). Since Apple phases out older products, it makes device support fairly predictable.

Even on the design side, there are only two screen sizes, one for the iPod touch and iPhone, and one for the iPad. Of course, there’s Retina display but Apple’s made it more straightforward for designers by just doubling the pixel dimensions. Compare this simplicity against building for Android, where there are many different screen sizes, many different hardware specifications, and little consistency available to developers and designers. This lack of standardization is one reason most Android Market reviews focus on why the app doesn’t work on a particular device instead of addressing actual features of the app.

Ultimately, it’s a win-win for Apple. Consumers aren’t overwhelmed when deciding to “buy Apple” and developers can better support their apps. The Apple philosophy of less is more is apparent in all of their culture and it’s apt considering the subtitle of The Paradox of Choice which reads, Why More is Less.