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Maemo UI

Posted by notKlaatu , 06 June 2009 · 205 views

I've had my Nokia N800 for 2 years, I think, and have been enormously pleased with it. And of course with an opener like that, there's a big "but..." coming up.......but...There are certain things about the N800 that annoy me a bit. I wouldn't complain about these things if Maemo was a purely community-driven; in that case, I'd just wait another two years until after I've finished school for programming, and pitch a fix for the issue myself. But Maemo has a corporate entity making money off of it; people pay a few hundred bucks for these Internet Tablets With Maemo, and when you pay that kind of money, you are -- in a perfect world at least -- paying for a good, solid, usable, well-designed OS just as much as you are paying for the hardware. You should be able to show off your $400 Nokia to friends without having to explain why the UI is kind of clunky here and there.So, in short, I guess my point is that Nokia needs to get around to either giving Maemo some attention, or else just switch to Qt or e17 already and really make me happy.IMHO, Maemo doesn't seem to know whether it is a stylus-driven or a finger-driven interface. Witness, for example, the very LARGE jumbo-sized big buttons in the main application menu or the Application Manager (the add/remove software interface), the media player, and many other places throughout the UI. And yet -- even in the same exact application, the scroll bars are teeny-tiny bars crammed right up against the edge of the screen. Sure, I CAN grab onto the scroll bar with my little finger and scroll around, but it's uncomfortable and awkward and discourages me from doing so -- and yet the idea of using both my finger and the stylus just to navigate around the device is tiresome as well. I end up generally just using the stylus because the finger action is so frustrating that it just ends up annoying me, and yet those big jumbo sized buttons mock me while I use my needle-sized stylus to press them. It's like they're saying "go ahead, use your finger to press us, you'll like it!" and then slapping me back down when I need to scroll.The answer has been found in two community Maemo applications. So really there are two possible answers:1. No scroll bars.Fennec, the superb and truly gratifying Mozilla-Web-Browser-For-Mobile-Devices simply foregoes the need for scroll bars and lets you scroll around with your finger on the screen. I don't know if this innovation must be credited to a certain overly-hyped phone or if it is something that existed prior to that, but it's really a smart solution and I'm liking Fennec a lot, largely for this reason alone.2. Big scroll bars."Personal Application Launcher", an applet for Maemo that allows the user to put icons on their little Maemo desktop, has a configuration screen that features really big scroll bars. And guess what? they're great. Finally, nice big scroll bars that a finger can grab onto and move around. Hopefully more Maemo applications will go this route soon because I think when you can't swing having no scroll bars at all, this is the way to go.That's the only real complaint I have about Maemo in terms of user experience. I have a complaint, I guess, about Nokia but it's muddled up with other issues and would confuse things if included in this post.Anyway, just some ideas on how to finesse the UI a bit better for both looks and usability. Screenshots attached.

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