UI


iPhone 6 Screen Resolution, Points, and Pixels Explained

iPhone 6 Screens Demystified on PaintCode

There were a lot of questions surrounding the rumored iPhone 6 display resolution. A few had well-reasoned extrapolations based on conjecture, but ultimately we had no idea. Now that the hardware is public and our iOS 8 SDKs are gold master, we finally have the numbers. And…. they’re not what we expected.

Yup – 3x graphics are there for the iPhone 6 Plus, but by the time those images hit the screen, they’ve been down sampled by about 15%. I’m sure the 6 Plus screen looks absolutely delicious, but I can’t imagine what that scaling factor is actually going to look like.  Or maybe I do. Having owned a retina Macbook Pro, I’m familiar with scaling on the retina display. It’s actually hardly noticeable. Maybe if I get up close I could see some sort of issue, but I haven’t yet.

We have higher resolution on-screen now, but the UI should be about the same size as it always has; it’s important to Apple that touch just works.




Focus Follow Mouse and other *nix wonders

Back in the days at the UCSD Center for fMRI, I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty with a few types of *nix systems that most people have never heard of, much less use. My boss was also pretty keen on very specific configurations that he insisted his employees put on their computers for those infrequent times he’d be on our workstations. For the record, they were:

  • Always use Emacs
  • Make sure that key to the left of the “A” key was your control key, map it to control if it wasn’t already
  • Make sure focus follows mouse set to enabled.
These are no big deal on various *nix systems, but to most Mac people, completely novel ideas

Caps Lock to Ctrl

Briefly, that control key thing. I hated it at first. Then I started using Emacs quite a bit and it made sense. It much better on your poor little pinky finger to press down without having to contort your hand. Old Solaris systems actually made that the hardware control key. Any other keyboard has to be remapped via software so “caps lock” wasn’t really caps lock. I highly recommend it, but people are soooo confused when they’re using my machine and the caps lock doesn’t work. Or control doesn’t work and makes all their text in capitals.

Focus Follows Mouse

I don’t know why I forget to do this one. The idea is that window focus (the act of becoming active) can be controlled by simply moving your mouse over the window rather than having to physically click on it and bring the window to the foreground. FFM is particularly handy because the window isn’t brought to the foreground, but is still takes input from the keyboard. I use this most often when working with the terminal – where often I only care most about the last several lines of output, and not all the clutter of text and OS UI above it. It leaves the main window that might be referencing right where it is.

On your Mac, open Terminal, and do this:

Quit terminal. Re-open, and open a second terminal window (not tab). Hover your mouse over one of them and start typing. Now, hover your mouse over the other one and type. See what happens? If everything worked properly, the typing occurs in the window your mouse is hovered over. The only caveat is that it acts a little funny if the terminal is in the background to another app, but it still works. I found that sometimes you have to hover out & over another app then back to the other term window. Not a huge deal, I guess. Try it out. If you don’t like it, change the above command from … YES to … NO

It’s a time saver and convenience – especially useful on constrained displays. You might just fall in love. Now if only the whole OS would let me do that.

 




Trends and Trajectory

As 2009 comes to a close I’m sitting in a nice, comfy coffee shop, working on some code for an iPhone app I wanted to release a couple weeks ago. I’m not going to be hard on myself. The Holiday season came upon us and there became more important things like family, friends, and feasts. This evening I’ve spent some time reflecting on my journeys over the last 12 months and begin figuring out where 2010 might take me.

I’ve pretty much immersed myself in mobile development the last couple months as some exciting new projects have hit the desk. It’s changed my view of computing. I don’t think much is new, but the added perspective is certainly important. For the sake of pointing them out, something needs to be said about the tremendous growth in a few trends – the ones that will continue explosive growth well into the future.

Web

It’s no surprise that SaaS (software as a service / “pay for play”) has made it pretty big, especially with companies like 37Signals leading the way in team collaboration. Tons of companies are copying the business plan because it can work tremendously well. SaaS is quite a game changer over the old boxed software model. The ubiquity of the net makes it easy for customers to connect to a service, do what they need to do, and leave without ever thinking about all the dirty parts of actually maintaining a computer. There are tons of other great benefits to SaaS, but I’ll just have to save it for later.

UI

It’s no surprise that we’re finally arriving at the Renaissance of user interface design. Tools and information have become improved enough that instead of spending a ton of time writing code, and more time designing appealing interfaces. We see this in both desktop apps and the web.

Platforms

Mobile is big. It’s not going away. This is not about that. Apple’s iPhone has revolutionized our concept of the application development model. It has shown us how apps that do one or two things, but do them well, have taken the place of monolithic apps that try to do everything, but only sort-of well. I don’t think the iPhone can actually take credit for this, but it is probably among the largest driving factors in this mentality shift . We also see similar shifts in online tools (37Signals with their collaboration suite) and desktop apps (Compare the beautiful Billings.app from MarketCircle to Intuit’s Quicken and Quickbooks).

Beyond

I never promised anything revolutionary, but when you look at the horizon it’s pretty clear to see where the current trends will continue to expand into meaningful user experiences.