Metro UI

Microsoft's Andy Lees, president of Windows Phone division, has spoken out about Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), particularly the People app. Similarities are present, which was noticeable in the Android ICS video we covered yesterday with Google heavily borrowing from other platforms.

"It's always flattering when someone starts copying you. Fundamentally, their point of view is different. They provide you with a grid of icons and a sea of applications and the more functionality you add, the more complicated and difficult to use the phone becomes."

Even though some parts of Windows Phone are being copied, there's still space for Google to be critical about the platform. Andy moves on to what Matias Duarte said about Windows Phone Metro UI.

"The problem with the Android model is that (when) somebody decides to do something, they hack up the operating system and they make it work. But that puts it (at) a dead end for that device, and that's why phones don't get updated, it's why sometimes they run applications and sometimes they don't."

If you missed the video for Android ICS, check it out after the break. 

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It seems that The Guardian has taken design elements from Metro UI after releasing their Windows Phone app and have applied them to their just-released iPad newspaper. Don't mistake this for a mere copy as the app looks superb on the big screen and does Metro proud.

I see this as well as future implementations with other apps on Apple's platform as a positive sign for Windows Phone.When Windows 8 comes along with the upcoming Xbox Dashboard refresh, we should expect to see more adopters for Microsoft's mobile platform with Metro making its way into competitor eco-systems.

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A new advert has been uploaded to the Windows Phone YouTube account that shows off the top features in Mango. The music is definitely familiar (from a previous video) and suits the platform well with the sleek look of Metro and the elegant device. This seems like the user-orientated brother to the developer advert we covered earlier this month. Still up-beat, still awesome.

Source: Windows Phone (YouTube)

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Metro UI invades Windows 8

Microsoft turned its attention from the little screen of the Windows Phone to the big screen of the PC today and demoed Windows 8 at the 2011 BUILD developers conference.  And it looks awfully familiar.

Microsoft took center stage at the Anaheim, California event highlighting Windows 8 and the new Samsung Windows 8 tablet. Windows 8 is another major overhaul for a Microsoft OS and will offer focus on a touch-based UI that is optimized for tablets and looks really nice.

Steven Sinofsky, President of Microsoft's Windows Division stated in his keynote,

"We reimagined Windows. From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise."

Windows 8 follows the Metro user interface we all have become familiar with through our Windows Phone and the Xbox 360 console. It lines up the PC with the rest of the Microsoft ecosystem rather nicely and will connect the three through Windows Live and Skydrive.  Even the lock screen shares the same features of your Windows Phone by displaying the date/time, any upcoming appointments, and unread message summaries.

The Metro UI supports both mouse and keyboard navigation and if the Metro style isn't your cup of tea, you can revert to a more traditional Windows 7 interface.

Microsoft didn't share a release date for Windows 8 but it's our understanding that we should see it sometime mid-2012. A Developer Preview for Windows 8 is expected to be available later this week. It should be interesting to see Metro on the big screen.

Source: Microsoft News Center

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Sudoku - Review

Sudoku, which comes from developer Babaroga and publisher Microsoft, is one of the first two free ad-supported games for Xbox Live. It’s currently available in the US only, though it will likely debut in lands afar eventually as well. There are a ton of different sudoku games on Windows Phone already. This version is certainly not definitive, but it’s a pretty good way to get some free Achievements.

Head past the break for our full review.

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More Metro UI on Android

It seems with every post we publish here surrounding Metro UI on Android we're getting closer and closer to a fluent solution. It was only a few days ago when we covered the latest attempt to get the look of Windows Phone on an Android powered device. In the video above Arjoma92 walks us through his Motorola Defy that appears to resemble Microsoft's Windows Phone in more ways than one. The list of apps used are as follows:

While it looks relatively accurate, the smooth scrolling and snappy OS is not present, plus you can still see Android elements throughout the video, but it's a damn good attempt.

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Good news for Microsoft as their patent for the Metro UI, filed under "Visual motion for user interface feedback", has been approved by the USPTO. The patent was originally filed in early 2010 but finally approved on August 18th. We're still waiting on the official patent number to appear, which we're told usually takes a few days to be generated and listed--for now we have the issue date within the application itself. From the application abstract comes a very abstract description of the UI:

"Aspects of a user interface that provides visual feedback in response to user input. For example, boundary effects are presented to provide visual cues to a user to indicate that a boundary in a movable user interface element (e.g., the end of a scrollable list) has been reached. As another example, parallax effects are presented in which multiple parallel or substantially parallel layers in a multi-layer user interface move at different rates, in response to user input. As another example, simulated inertia motion of UI elements is used to provide a more natural feel for touch input. Various combinations of features are described. For example, simulated inertia motion can be used in combination with parallax effects, boundary effects, or other types of visual feedback. "

This is of course a welcomed approval as Microsoft gets to use Metro on the Xbox, Windows 8 and Windows Phone without fear that someone can come along and just lift it. This extra protection is especially important in this case since one could argue 'Metro' is the new look and feel of Microsoft and with it being so successful for them, it stands that they would want it protected. All we know is we're glad we don't have to write up patent applications. Eghads that's boring.

Source: USPTO (patent application) via Tweakers.net; Thanks, Sander G., for the tip!

Update: We did a little more digging on this based on your comments.  The patent process is about as confusing as the way the some of the applications are written.  The August 18, 2011 date could have meant two things, approval or publication.  A delay between approval and assigning a patent number is not uncommon and it appeared as if the date was an approval date.

In discussing this with a patent agent, we have confirmed that the date is the publication date.  The application has now been docketed for examination and prosecution.  The USPTO will review the sixteen claims from Microsoft and basically rule whether or not Microsoft has a legitimate claim on these inventions.  There is no time frame on the examination and prosecution but it is usually lengthy and solely at the discretion of the USPTO as to how fast things roll.

So, for now, Microsoft hasn't been awarded the patent on Metro UI but is one step closer on what could be a very lengthy journey.

 

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Just a few minutes ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrapped up his speech at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles. Most of the talk was focused on Windows 7, Windows 8, InTune and some other Microsoft technologies.

However, this slide came up and while it reveals nothing new (the Windows 8 UI, Windows Phone and the next Xbox Hub) we finally get to see Microsoft's "Three screens" vision (e.g. RC-Air Sim) including matching UI come to fruition.

We have to admit, it looks sharp and awesome.

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WP7 style Birthday cake

This is pretty awesome and it looks delicious. Just a shame I wouldn't want to eat it and keep it on display instead. Twitter user Alper Özçetin celebrated his birthday with a twist this year. A full size Windows Phone 7 styled Samsung Birthday cake, isn't this every user's dream? Designed by Duygu Dem, we noticed the missing back and search buttons, but it's still darn impressive.

Source: Twitter, via: WPSauce

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Should you be new to Windows Phone Metro UI development, coming from either Android or iOS for example, then this well worth checking out. Teppo Kotirinta, Principal Designer at Nordkapp, has just published an article on their blog announcing their designer cheat sheet.

This image which can be printed off or downloaded and opened on a 50" TV and will guide you through each illustration detailing what each screen contains and how the structure and design should be developed for effective deployment. Included are dimensions for live tiles, hex codes for all the WP7 themes and more. It really is a 101 for designing perfect Metro apps without the 1,000 pages worth of reading required.

They state that the cheat sheet will be updated as of when Microsoft release more features/information, so keep an eye out for updates should you find this useful.

Source: Nordkapp

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We've seen our share of Metro spin-offs for your Windows desktop (see Firefox skin, RainMeter) and heck, Windows 8 is going to have a Metro-inspired UI to it to boot. But for those wanting a quick way to update today, you can run this free weather app right on your desktop that heavily lifts from your precious Windows Phone UI.

The app is simple enough, not even an installation. Just download and extract the folder to your \Programs (or wherever) and run the main .exe file. From there, right click to get options and setup your location and preferences, then hit "refresh" on each panel to get it up to date.

Heck, it even bounces up and down like the Metro UI, so we're giving this a big thumbs up--it looks great, works well and is simple.

Note: the app auto-updates, you only need to manually refresh if you change anything in settings. You can even set the weather-update interval.

Source: Download Crew; designed by 'Stealth'; via Beta News

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Over iStartedSomething, Long Zheng goes into some detail about the East Asian language pack coming to Windows Phone 7 in the fall via Mango. Specifically, what it means in terms of the Metro design when showing such languages as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, amongst others. As you can see in the image above, taken during MIX11, East Asian languages will for the first time be using the vertical plan as opposed to just horizontally displayed words and characters. The reasoning for this should be obvious as systems such as katakana and kanji require a little more...space.

Evidently, this change is not just for the lock-screen, but for the native hubs and panoramas throughout the OS, adding a unique expansion of the Metro UI design ethos. However, it looks like at least for now, third-party apps won't be able to emulate such design expansion--though we imagine that may be just temporary until the team comes out with the proper dev tools and standards.

Finally, Long Zheng correctly hints that the Metro team is still at work evolving the UI, something we also heard in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress. Considering Microsoft has expanding Metro from Zune to Windows Phone to parts of Windows 8, there's little doubt we'll be seeing some interesting changes in the UI over the next few years.

Source: iStartedSomething

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While not much practical use to our readers, it's nice to see Microsoft's Metro UI catching on in a big way. A new iPhone Twitter app called 'Maha' is an exact clone of some of the popular Twitter apps on Windows Phone 7 that adhere to the Metro theme e.g. Twitter (official), Rowi and Twitt.

Between what's been shown of Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox 360, this Metro thing seems to be catching on. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And maybe, just maybe, a few iPhoners will want a phone with the whole Metro UI.

via: nanapho

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With Windows Phone 7 featuring such a beautiful UI, there has to be a level of quality present in application appearance and user friendliness to match the core system, which is entirely different to the competition. However, there are a handful (or more) apps on the Marketplace that aren't up-to-par.

Jeff Wilcox, better known for the 4th&Mayor FourSquare app for WP7, has published a Metro UI guide for developers, which is beautiful in itself. Covering the factors; ease of use, simplicity, discoverability, conformance and more, the guide is a must read for any WP7 developer or even iOS and Android developers to gain an insight into the Metro universe.

Almost simply listing what to do and what not to do, Jeff explains the steps that are required and calculations that need to be made for your app to succeed in the Marketplace with both sales/downloads and highly rated reviews. Also, it's always nice to have a resource available for those who wish to port the UI to other platforms, but mimicking the appearance of WP7 is one thing, replicating the user experience is another.

Source: Jeff Wilcox, via: @guinnesslee

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Metro UI theme on iPhone

Are you someone who loves Apple products but has envy for Windows Phone 7 owners for the interface they have the privilege in staring at for hours of each day? Or do you already own a WP7 device and wish to expand the deployment?

This has now become reality from just a possibility thanks to wyndwarrior, a theme designer at modmyi.com. Titled OS7, this theme for the iOS platform will transform your grid style Apple interface into a live tile enabled, aesthetically pleasing design that is found on WP7.

Before you begin to wander about the quality of the theme, or if functionality such as pinning (and unpinning) tiles to the main screen is missing, then fear not. Basic functions look and work very well, but the best feature? Live tiles are supported with more support on the way such as Facebook pulling live data etc. Although the theme requires you to mess with your device, which some people don't feel comfortable doing, it really is simple to install and get cracking...

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In an interesting article at ComputerWorld, Microsoft discusses their new Metro UI and how efficient it is at doing basic, everyday tasks. In turn, this "20%" number is thrown around a bit, with the claim that it takes much less effort to use their mobile OS over others.

While 20% is numerically hard to substantiate, is easy to validate in certain areas. The appeal for Windows Mobile, for many, was the Today Screen, where you could pack a ton of info to your liking so that with a one-look glance you knew what was up in your world. Having easy access to the calendar when you turn it on, one-button search (something Android actually pioneered), as well as dynamic tiles continues this tradition in WP7. The good news is it sounds like Microsoft took a page from Palm's book, where they notoriously would count the number of "taps" it took to do a task and aim to reduce that as a metric for efficiency.

CW goes to mention that this whole simple UI/20% efficiency thing is the basis for their new ad campaign. Who knows, maybe Microsoft is onto something here. Palm's Garnet/WebOS and the iPhone all do well for their simplicity and elegance, the same rule should apply to Microsoft.

Source: ComputerWorld

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HTC seems to have some Neo-Plasticism art fans under their employment.

In possibly one of the more clever wink-nods in phone-naming history, the "HTC Mondrian" (see story below) seems to take its influence from famous Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose work you see above.

If you don't see the visual influence between one of Piet's most famous pieces and a certain 'Metro UI' then we don't know what to tell you.  Or just a coincidence? 

And if this purported first leaked Windows Phone 7 ROM is a hoax? Our hats off to the folks for going that extra mile in being so witty.

[thanks to MonteCristoffOn for noticing!]

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