Modern UI

Since its inception, Windows Phone has had a bold visual design language defining the core experience of the OS. Initially called Metro, Modern design gets its influence from the work of Massimo Vignelli, who famously made the NYC Subway maps, and the school of Swiss Style started in the 1950's. At Microsoft, the lineage starts with Windows Media Center, up through the ill-fated Zune HD, finally spearheading the core design of Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8.

Android though, has never had such luck. The UI has changed significantly since Android 1.0, often evolving around a very loose, almost ad-hoc set of principles. Things began to change once ex-Palm design head Matias Duarte joined the Android team back in 2010. Since then, we have seen attempts at a new language, notably the Roboto font for Android 4.0.

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Xbox One: Comprehensive launch review

Eight long years after the Xbox 360 debuted in 2005, its successor console the Xbox One has finally arrived. The new console brings more than just increased horsepower to the table; it also sports an assortment of unique multimedia features and a new Kinect camera/microphone array that kind of works properly this time.

Before we got to this point, the Xbox One suffered through limp reveal events and E3 presentations as well as widespread controversy revolving around initial plans for the console to require an internet connection to function. Since then, Microsoft wisely reversed course on the online requirement and brought its messaging more in line with gamer tastes.

How does the Xbox One stack up to those tastes, the Xbox 360, and its direct competitor the Playstation 4? Find out all that and more in our lengthy and all-encompassing launch review!

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If there is one thing we can all agree on is that Windows Phone has some talented developers. Especially when it comes to design, which is heavily inspired by Microsoft’s Modern UI principals.  

Today, I’m giving you an early look at a new calendar app headed to Windows Phone. Simply called ‘Cal’. The app is superbly clean and minimalist looking, really eye catching. Even though we already have some great calendar apps like Simple Calendar and Chronos Calendar, Cal ranks right up there in my opinion.

So head past the break to see my video tour and some early screenshots.

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Developers, looking for a way to spruce up your app? Need advice on your creation’s UI? Then you may want to take a look at Toledo Designs who just partnered up with Nokia through their popular DVLUP program.

Why go with Toledo? It’s simple. One of the founders of the company is Arturo Toledo, a former Senior User Experience Designer for Microsoft's Windows Phone Design Studio. The man certainly knows his design theory as he wrote a whole guide on UI design for Windows Phone in a series which we covered back in 2011-2012. He recently wrote an interesting piece on the new look for the Facebook app in response to those who said it wasn't Modern.

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Mozilla is looking to launch Firefox on Windows 8 with a Modern UI (Metro to you and I). Think of Internet Explorer, but a browser made by Mozilla and you get the idea. If you're a huge fan of the popular web browser and have been using the desktop version (or own a Windows RT tablet), fear not as you'll soon be able to enjoy all the features and functionality with Microsoft's simple look and feel. ETA? December 10th.

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We gave you a sneak peek last week of Simple Calendar version 2.0, featuring a swanky new Modern UI inspired Live Tiles and easy to read calendar system. While version 1.2 had been sitting on the Store we promised we’d update you when that major revamp went through and sure enough, it’s live now.

Version 2.0 brings with it a bunch of new changes, including another new Live Tile that we didn’t show you the last time: Gob. That’s in addition to Frodo, which we used in the hands on video. Gob has a background which matches your theme (dark or light) and dare we say it’s our favorite.

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More than a few of you noticed a certain weather app on my Start screen from today’s earlier video on Simple Calendar 2. Truth be told the app in question, called Vieather, is not actually new, but it has had regular updates and its due for some recognition.

For one, the app is completely free. No ads either. Number two, it’s simply gorgeous looking. If you’re a big fan of the alarm app 627.AM, Simple Calendar, or any app that embraces the Modern UI theme then this app is for you (it’s also for Windows Phone 7.x and 8 devices, natch).

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With the arrival of the new Facebook beta app for Windows Phone 8 this week, the discussion immediately focused on two aspects (1) functionality (2) design. The first one is one of those “in motion” issues that all betas face, meaning some functions may yet have been added (especially when combined with the ever changing feature set of the Facebook ecosystem). The second though ranges from personal opinion to a higher discussion of Design Principles.

More specifically, the question of whether the new Facebook app is “Metro” enough (or whatever you want to call the Modern UI Design Principles that runs through Windows Phone) has become one of the hot topics amongst commenters.

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We’re thinking of a new series to bring you simply called “Who’s ripping off Windows Phone now” because as many of you know, Modern UI has been lifted by quite a few companies and websites. In all honesty, we’re flattered and if anything it validates the attractiveness of Microsoft’s design.

But we do have limits, especially where “inspired by” crosses over into flat out copying.

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Now that Windows 8 is official, Microsoft is still going forward with the redesign and reimaging. Such is the case when you go to Windows.com or even their Blogs.Windows.com sites as both are showing a high-contrast look with the new logo.

We have to admit that we really like this new look. It’s bold, striking and of course it keeps in line with Microsoft’s Modern UI approach. Will it sell PCs? Not necessarily but Microsoft’s new look and image are key factors for consumers and we think they nailed it.

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