As I’ve blogged about before, I’ve been working on 4.1 for iOS for awhile, but what may not be all that obvious is that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to improve our interface and look. These changes haven’t been just for the sake of change because frankly I don’t have time to do things just for the sake of doing them.
So why have I been so focused on this? For one thing interface is extremely important to me. I don’t think I’m ever really happy with UI so I keep trying new things. A lot of times a specific end result in Informant might come about because I’ve tried a dozen different ways of doing it – and the reason I even begin a change is because I’m not happy for one reason or another. We often test out multiple ways of drawing, presenting, orientating, coloring, and sizing interface elements before we settle on one. Even then we usually keep one or two options available to us if feedback doesn’t match what we expect. For example with 4.1 we’ve been working with designers, external and internal marketing teams, and our principals on our interface palette, icons, and almost every pixel within the app for two months now; but that’s another blog posting.
For this post, I wanted to talk about a very small thing because its so small it might give some insight in how we do things. Because its a small thing some people might say why work on that instead of something more important like auto-tagging? Its Saturday. No bashing.
The tab changes started because I felt the calendar navigation bar was too complex, cluttered, and I kept getting feedback that it was not very intuitive. Next, I knew that it was an impediment to adding a year view which had been asked for for quite awhile, or a top-down week view (not yet done). Finally, with larger screen iPhones coming (the writing was on the wall back at WWDC) I knew I needed to make some changes. For the last 2 months I’ve been fine-tuning this work and I finally have it to a place I really like it – especially for one handed use. Which brings me to today.
Today I was spending a bit of time trying to see if the bigger screen of the iPhone 6 and 6+ would benefit from showing more tab items on the tab bar. With the 6 I saw pretty quickly that no, it wasn’t big enough as it crowded out the icons just a bit too much; but on the 6+ there was room. Here is what the 6+ looks like with the regular 5 icons:
It looks a bit sparse and seems like we’re wasting some space. So I first tried showing 7 items on the tab bar. The end result looked like this:
I think it could work, but I wasn’t really super happy with it. Just for kicks I wanted to see what yet another item in the list would look like:
Too squished. Its hard to tell running on a Simulator when my device hasn’t arrived yet (October 6th, according to T-Mobile), but it just doesn’t seem like it would work. In the end, I decided to put it at 6 items. Its only one more tab item than a regular iPhone and to be honest I’m still on the fence about adding the 7th until I get an actual device to test on, but I’d rather be a bit conservative at first.
This was a really short process that took me all of about 30 minutes to play with on the Simulator. If I had a device with me it would probably be more like 2-3 days as I let each option really settle, but for now I hope this gives you a little insight into how we do things.