VIRTUAL REALITY. MAKESHIFT HOLODECKS. AND SKETCHES THAT FLOAT IN 3-D. THESE ARE THE WILDEST IDEAS WE’VE SEEN IN USER INTERFACE IN 2014.
What is “user interface”?
The user interface, or UI, of a device is the look and feel of the on-screen menu system. How it works, its color scheme, how it responds to button presses, all of these things are part of the user interface. The term is also sometimes used to refer to the piece of software that resides on a smartphone that deals with typical user interface issues. For example, UIQ and Nokia S60 are both user interfaces that run on the Symbian OS on smartphones. They each have a very different look and feel to them.
For the past two years, there has been a long and painful war fought between parties with similar ambitions but opposing opinions; a war between iPhone and Android users. At the centre of this great debate is the question, “Which system has the best user experience?”
iPhone offers a clean and simple experience; there are no app drawers, no widgets and no pull-down notifications. These are, of course, the very things that Android users love so much about Google’s platform. The notification curtain is a handy way to centralise system and personal messages and live, web-enabled widgets are key to the Android UI.
Recently we found a new firmware mod for Android which we think is almost spot-on and definitely offers food for thought for both Apple and Google. MIUI is firmware that originated in China. Luckily for us, some clever coders got their hands on the firmware and have translated it, the most recent results of which are featured in this gallery.
In terms of smartphones and tablet interfaces, Google may have stolen 2014 with their landmark Material Design philosophy. But outside of that space, things are about to get weird. Really weird.
We sit on the precipice of a war for your face, in which companies like Facebook, Samsung, and Sony are making major investments in virtual reality technology. At the same time, we see companies like Microsoft experimenting on the complete opposite end of the spectrum—turning entire rooms into screens that a whole party can share.
So this year you saw some of 2014’s wildest ideas in interface design, ranging from whimsical light bulbs that can absorb any color they touch, to tiny robots that work together to become the physical buttons and levers of your software. Be prepared for the creasers things to come in 2015.