Microsoft finally looks to be hitting their stride. This new web-commercial for developers shows off the elegance, simplicity and drives home the Metro interface. We really like the look of this, even if it's for devs and not necessarily consumers. Still, we could see Microsoft editing this or redoing some parts for TV and they really should--it's a good start to show off their new UI. After all, it's going to be everywhere soon.
Oh and check out the eBay Live Tile at 0:36
Source: Windows Phone (YouTube); Also, thanks ousooner314, for the tip even though we were already working on it ;-)
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.
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:
"Come to us my children!" - Steve Ballmer, I/O 2011. All jokes aside, it's become quite clear that a number of Android users actually want something more than a grid packed full of icons, widgets and whatnot. something cleaner, sleeker and more unique (as does Google). Windows Phone features Metro UI that ticks all the boxes mentioned above and has been somewhat ported to Android in many forms (including a media player, oh and Bing).
We've now learnt of a full-featured Android ROM that's been modified up by Lifehacker reader MortemTuam and sports a Windows Phone like home screen with a Metro UI influence. What differentiates this from previous Android attempts we've covered is that this actually looks pretty damn good. Here's how he put it all together (and what was used for you folk who have Android handsets):
Seems like a lot of time and work, right? I'll always ask the question of "if you like it so much, why not experience the real thing?". Tinkering with the OS is fine but you'll never have the smoothness of WP7, something that goes hand-in-hand with the Metro UI. Sorry Android, you might be able to look like our OS, but you'll never behave like it.
We all know Microsoft is embracing Metro UI on Xbox and the upcoming Windows 8--the question is what form will their iconographic, non-chrome UI take?
In a video posted on Microsoft's "Building Windows 8" blog, we can clearly see their newly designed Start Menu, which is completely flat/non-3D, uses our familiar Metro icons along with simple text using a high contrast color scheme. In addition, we see some type of gadget to the left displaying the time, date and various system stats.
Compared to the Start Menu on Windows 7, the new Metro-style Win 8 screen looks simple and elegant--exactly what we're expecting from Microsoft now on.
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.
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.
Deviantart member CookieMonster21x has created two sets of Windows Phone lock wallpapers based on the metro look. The two designs come in the stock accent colors of your Windows Phones (blue, red, mango, green, magenta, purple, lime, teal, brown and pink).
Each zip file will contain all ten color patterns and I'm not sure if I like the conservative version or the more colorful version two. Feel free to share which you like the best in the comments section or share your personal wallpaper favorites in this WPCentral Forum discussion.
You can find the Metro Lock Wallpapers Version One (the black background) here and Version Two (the colorful backgrounds) here.
We previously covered the Metro UI inspired media player for Android when it was still in development. Federico Carnales has now released the app to the Android Marketplace and is readily available for download and installment. So, how accurate is the design to the real deal on WP7/Zune? Check the above video.
As one can see it's a very well crafted look-alike. The animations, positioning and pivot menus are pretty much identical and if the chrome wasn't present at the top of both devices, you'd have a fairly hard time deciding which was the fake. The app is fully customizable so this is merely a single theme, third parties have the ability to 'skin' the media player as they so see it - even the widgets.
UberMusic sitting on the Marketplace shelves at a pricey $3.49 (wait, you didn't think everything on Android was free did you?) and a free version is apparently on its way with in-app advertising support. With how Google is advancing with Metro UI implementation, I wouldn't be surprised with adopting this media player as the default for Android. What are your thoughts? Should we feel flattered or concerned that other platforms are slowly turning in WP7 wannabes instead of fully migrating to the platform?
We're not shy about calling out Google and more specifically Android on their terrible UI--it lacks coherence, style and underlying philosophy of what it should be. It looks like it was designed by computer nerds and not, well, designers. In that sense, it's nice to see Google overhauling their Android Market which always looked like it was beaten with an ugly stick.
Still, we've received quite a few emails noting that their new Marketplace seems to take some liberties with Windows Phone's Metro UI: text based, no chrome, pivot controls, etc. We're not prepared to say that Google sought to make a copy-cat UI here, but it is clear that they are moving in a more minimalist, text-driven direction that seems to becoming popular these days. It's not as bad as their ad that completely ripped off a few weeks ago, but it does show that they're taking their cues from Metro or at the very least, they know they have a UI problem and need to spice things up a bit.
For years people said that the incremental changes to Windows Mobile was just "lipstick on a pig". Well, here's looking at you, Android.
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.
A few days ago we reported on the KLM-Metro connection (yes, evidently we had it backwards, KLM has had that style for "years", forgive us, we don't fly Dutch). Regardless, it seems Google is liking this whole Tile/Metro approach to design as well (see the Windows 8 UI demo).
Last month, Google held their famous IO conference, where all-things-Google happens, including Android news. They have the "sessions" page up, where you can go watch all the keynotes and talks that went on during the meeting, which is similar to Microsoft's MIX.
Or how about this below, which looks like flat-out copying to us. The one of the left is from Microsoft's WP7 page, the right, Google Wallet. (Thanks, Spindel, in comments):
Now, this is all probably old news to some, but darn it those tiles and UI design look a little familiar. Then again, this too has probably been around forever and we're just becoming aware of aesthetic design in general, seeing tiles everywhere. All we know is we can't wait till Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360 all have this same UI design, t'is gonna be beautiful.
And Google? It's a good look for you. Heaven knows you need all the UI help you can get.
Source: Google IO; Thanks, Abhishek, for bringing this to our attention!
There's no doubt that Microsoft is doing the right thing by recognizing how brilliant the Metro UI is and incorporating into the next Xbox update and Windows 8 desktop OS. So perhaps it is of little surprise to see others starting to snag some deisgn cues from Microsoft's groundbreaking UI by incorporating Metro-esque themes into their products.
Reader Florian (Disinto) recently flew on KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) and couldn't help but noticing something as simple as salt & pepper packets had an all too familiar look to them. There's no confusion here either--those are exactly like the Metro tiles from Windows Phone. Odd seeing them on such banal items as disposable spice packets and yet...it still looks great, no?
Hey, we can't speak for Microsoft, but we're cool with Metro UI/Tiles taking over design aesthetic. So long as Android and Apple stay away, they've already copied enough.
Thanks to Florian for the sweet pic and observation, not to mention good taste in music.
Following up on a post from earlier today, where we make mention of Windows 8 and the inclusion of Metro, we have this nice tidbit from Microsoft regarding, well, Windows 8, and the inclusion of Metro. They have replaced the desktop with a start screen that should be familiar to anyone with a windows phone, and, well... The video demo says it all and we could type for hours, and not explain it well enough to do it justice.
Remember alt-tab? Yeah, just a swipe from the left to switch between apps.
The old start button/orb? Swipe from the right.
Remember Aero-snap? Well, look at Snap now. Re-sizable, and beautiful.
Remember the horrible old onscreen keyboard? Check out the new thumb board.
And underneath it all, the familiar trappings of Windows 7.
Windows Vista and 7 applications seem to be fully supported, if seeming a little out of place. We already know that legacy applications will not work on ARM processors without being recompiled, so I would expect a new version of Office to launch around the same time as Windows 8.
So, now we know how Windows tablets are going to look and act, and it gives us an interesting view of a possible future of Windows Phone. The tiles are incredibly flexible, and when we are able to utilize them on a larger screen, they should prove to be very useful tools.
It's not all roses, though, and people that were hesitant to make the switch to Vista or Windows 7 are in for a new shock. I am willing to bet that the Metro UI can be turned on and off, but imagine the first time your grandmother accidentally turns it on? And, more importantly, companies are always concerned about their workforce, and having to retrain when new versions of software come out. How will decision makers react to the new UI, and how will Microsoft sell it as a productivity enhancer, as opposed to just an awesome information layer? Remember the Mac Dashboard?
And, as a side note, when you are watching the video, watch on the right side of the screen for a wall, covered in censoring blur. Let us know what you think they are hiding in the comments. And follow the break to read Microsoft's full press on the Windows 8 preview.
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.
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.
We've previously covered how the influence of Metro is spreading to the desktop operating systems with MetroTwit, Android with the launcher and iOS with the Metro theme etc. Now we have another app mimicking the Windows Phone 7 interface on Android from Federico Carnales - developer behind LauncherPro (which sports a Metro theme).
This music player looks very nice and implements the Metro look successfully when ignoring the status bar at the top. The simplistic approach to user interface has really taken storm, which I find baffling since if we take the desktop OS as an example, from early editions of Windows we've come through XP's colour introduction, glass effects in Vista and 7, high resolution icons and window management in OS X and Linux being customised to look like it was designed in 3146, to Metro on WP7. Simple use of icons, elegant looking and blown-up text, but it works.
Should we be looking forward to future implementations of the UI? Most definitely.
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.
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.
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.