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  1. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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       #1  
    [UPDATE: New concept created and discussed at Apps List + Notification Center Concept: Take Two]

    Hey everyone.
    I am a UI and UX designer and the one place that kept bugging me and my friend in Windows Phone UI was the apps list. That list does not fit within any Windows Phone design guidelines and as pictures, music + video and people are all hubs, me and my friend kept wondering why the app list isn't a hub while it is a perfect candidate. I kept thinking that maybe because it is only a list and doesn't have any subsections. That's when it hit me:

    All notifications are produced by apps. Whatever toast message you see on the phone is produced by an app; so having an Apps Hub could fix the apps list and at the same time provide a solution for this most wanted feature: the Notification Center.

    I started putting some stuff together to see what would the Apps Hub look like. The designed images are here:


    The Notifications subsection can be pinned to the Start page, displaying the number of notifications all apps have produced.

    Also, the Update section in the Marketplace where you can see new updates for the apps you have installed on the phone can be added as a third panel, which would make having the App Hub even more logical.

    The one other thing that kept bugging me was the search icon's location, and I couldn't figure out why should a long list of apps be placed in the middle of the screen just because there is a search icon placed (misplaced) behind it. I think my design fixes a lot of problems.

    Also, the settings button you see in the "all" list could be used to change the view of the list. For example, it can be used to enable categories to be displayed, just like all apps are categorized in the Marketplace. We could have separators like "entertainment", "music + video", "social networking", etc. appear and apps get placed in the appropriate category. Even creating custom categories (folders, groups) could be done here.

    Honestly I panicked because I heard Microsoft was finally putting a Notification Center in Windows Phone through the next update:

    Mission Highly Possible: Notification center in Windows Phone 8 - GSMArena Blog

    I was worried that Microsoft may opt for a drop-down notification area like iOS and Android, and I didn't want them to defile Windows Phone's integrity! (I know, I was worried a little!)

    Please tell me what you think about this design concept.
    Also, if you think this is a good design, please vote for the feature on Microsoft's UserVoice website:
    http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/fo...ich-creates-a-
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails appshub.jpg   notifications.jpg  
    Last edited by AgentTheGreat; 11-23-2012 at 04:20 PM. Reason: Added some new ideas.
  2. brmiller1976's Avatar
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    #2  
    I like these design concepts -- you should see if Redmond is hiring. :)
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  3. #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by brmiller1976 View Post
    I like these design concepts -- you should see if Redmond is hiring. :)
    I hope you've given him all 3 votes of yours. I have.
  4. #4  
    Btw, given 9 votes in total using 3 accounts ;)
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  5. thed's Avatar
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    I like the idea. From a design standpoint it makes sense to put apps and notifications into a hub. My only concern is that this wouldn't be quite as easy to get into as just swiping from the homescreen like the current app list. That's just a small nitpick though.

    Everything here looks really great, nice job on this. 3 votes from me.
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  6. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #6  
    The home screen is a perfectly suitable candidate for both the app list and notifications list. Big fan of your layout, I just think it doesn't need to be in a hub.
    tarekw likes this.
  7. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thed View Post
    I like the idea. From a design standpoint it makes sense to put apps and notifications into a hub. My only concern is that this wouldn't be quite as easy to get into as just swiping from the homescreen like the current app list. That's just a small nitpick though.

    Everything here looks really great, nice job on this. 3 votes from me.
    I was thinking maybe they could still retain the swiping. This hub could be accessed without any animations. Just like now you could swipe left, and see the first panel of the hub. Swiping right would get you back to the Start screen.

    I know it breaks a rule but shouldn't be that bad, for the sake of ease of access.
  8. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    The home screen is a perfectly suitable candidate for both the app list and notifications list. Big fan of your layout, I just think it doesn't need to be in a hub.
    My only problem is that the apps list is the only place different from the rest of the OS UI. All other lists (in Settings, apps like Outlook) follow a specific design guideline described here:

    Application Structure and Navigation Models

    Microsoft themselves didn't follow those guidelines.
  9. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by AgentTheGreat View Post
    My only problem is that the apps list is the only place different from the rest of the OS UI.
    Microsoft doesn't need to makes the UI even more uniform, I don't think anyone is harmed by an extra layout being available in Windows Phone. It really isn't that different from the panorama and pivot layouts, it is simply a hybrid of the two.

    It doesn't seem right to reduce the home screen's functionality and require users to press a tile just to get to the app list. Notifications and apps are central to a smartphone experience.
  10. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    Microsoft doesn't need to makes the UI even more uniform, I don't think anyone is harmed by an extra layout being available in Windows Phone. It really isn't that different from the panorama and pivot layouts, it is simply a hybrid of the two.

    It doesn't seem right to reduce the home screen's functionality and require users to press a tile just to get to the app list. Notifications and apps are central to a smartphone experience.
    The least the Panorama and Pivot layouts share is a proper title. Also, I think you agree that the search button is misplaced. There is no justification why the apps list shouldn't be left-aligned; well, there was before, because we had the back button behind it in the old days of WP7, but now it doesn't make any sense.

    I agree that having (only) an "Apps" tile isn't very productive, so as I explained to thed there is no need for this hub to have an animation. Simply swiping left from the home screen - just like we do now - could reveal the first panel of the hub.

    If you created a set of principles on design and published them as (formerly) "Metro", you should stick to it. Not keeping stuff uniform, I think, is the path that leads to Android messiness! ;)
    Last edited by AgentTheGreat; 11-03-2012 at 04:51 AM.
  11. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #11  
    On the other hand, many leading Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps do not adhere to the conventions set out. MetroTwit breaks guidelines. 627AM is very unorthodox. Take something like Carbon - a gorgeous Twitter app, but no one told them they should have done it that way. No example app had half the layout and typographical choices dots & lines made.

    I think it's nice to have the apps list devoid of an oversized panorama heading. Maybe that's just me, but I like the fact that the home screen is subtly different. Not many apps on Android and iOS really emulate their respective home screens, I'm not convinced it has to be changed here.
  12. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    On the other hand, many leading Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps do not adhere to the conventions set out. MetroTwit breaks guidelines. 627AM is very unorthodox. Take something like Carbon - a gorgeous Twitter app, but no one told them they should have done it that way. No example app had half the layout and typographical choices dots & lines made.

    I think it's nice to have the apps list devoid of an oversized panorama heading. Maybe that's just me, but I like the fact that the home screen is subtly different. Not many apps on Android and iOS really emulate their respective home screens, I'm not convinced it has to be changed here.
    Surely I can't dictate what you should like (DUH, obviously) but here is the deal:
    You named a number of third party apps that diverged from the guidelines a third party (Microsoft) set for them. In fact, there are cases in the guideline where it is stated that having an alternative navigation structure is quite OK (entertainment apps and games being singled out as examples);
    However, there is no *objective* reason why Microsoft should diverge from its own guidelines. There is not a single advantage to having a long list of items and wasting space that could be used the way Microsoft defined. If you object to the oversized Panorama heading, you are basically questioning a concept used widely throughout Windows Phone. You could object to that, but that would be another discussion.

    However I look at it, this is also a list of items that the user pays a visit to and selects from, just like any other place in Windows Phone. I don't see any reason for this list to be different. Microsoft is not trying to make brand-recognition by diverging from its own principles; besides, the hub actually adds functionality to the concept of apps. In addition to notifications, imagine having a "running" pane where a more advanced task manager could be created, with more detailed information about memory usage, etc. and the ability to close running apps. Just off the top of my head. I am not saying they would certainly add this if they decided to create a hub for apps. I am just talking about the potential here.

    Look at it this way: If Microsoft first shipped Windows Phone with an apps hub and in a later version reduced it to this long list, wouldn't we all unanimously say "WTF?!"

    All I am saying is there is more to the concept of apps than a badly laid out, long list of small tiles. Same could be said about virtually any list including photos, music and people.
    Last edited by AgentTheGreat; 11-03-2012 at 10:25 AM.
  13. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #13  
    The advantage is a core OS element is super accessible. Moving it into a hub does nothing but add an oversized header; if it began that way, I'd be breathing sighs of relief when it was dumped.

    Metro is already criticised as being information-sparse in terms of layout. Panorama was never meant for long lists of scrolling like an app list, probably because of the amount of wasted space. An app hub isn't the suitable use for hubs or the panorama layout. Would you also propose for the tiles to be contained within a hub, and if not, what's the difference there?
  14. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    The advantage is a core OS element is super accessible. Moving it into a hub does nothing but add an oversized header; if it began that way, I'd be breathing sighs of relief when it was dumped.

    Metro is already criticized as being information-sparse in terms of layout. Panorama was never meant for long lists of scrolling like an app list, probably because of the amount of wasted space. An app hub isn't the suitable use for hubs or the panorama layout. Would you also propose for the tiles to be contained within a hub, and if not, what's the difference there?
    The Start screen is Windows Phone's signature. When you look at it, you know exactly where you are. It's your home. But when you start to move away from it, you are navigating the operating system and that's when "Metro" signs actually kick in.
    If the apps list was a 2 dimensional grid of tiles resembling the home screen, I would have agreed with you. But it is a long list that resembles the list of your contacts in the People hub, and in my view needs to be treated the same way.

    It seems that you do have a problem with Panorama view. I may pose the same question: would you ask for Pictures, Music + Video and People hubs to be dumped and the entire Panorama view concept to be dropped, and if not, what's the difference here?
    Are you suggesting people don't view these hubs as much as the apps list? If you do, I would argue the majority have their most important app tiles already pinned to their Start screen, and visit the People hub more regularly compared to the apps list.

    Besides, the list of apps does not involve regularly changing information that need to be viewed at a glance, as do the tiles on the Start screen. Again, if you are criticizing that, you should also criticize the entire structure of Windows Phone, because I would argue that the "what's new" section of the People hub is perhaps much, much more eligible for the change you suggest.

    You seem to be saying "they did a horrible job at coming up with the Panorama view, and the apps list was lucky enough to actually escape that catastrophe. So it is better if it remains the way it is." That's alright but they should have created the apps list this way only if they actually decided to abandon Panorama view entirely, because the apps list looks more like the contacts list rather than the home screen (as can be seen above. I forgot to add the alphabetical separators to the list, I will do it later).

    As long as the principle is there, it's there. In addition, I think a hub wouldn't hinder your access to apps; it would rather enable more functions as I suggested before.

    P.S. the apps list is not more "core os feature" than the contacts list or the phone app or messaging app or even the music hub.
    Last edited by AgentTheGreat; 11-04-2012 at 01:45 AM.
  15. ajua's Avatar
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    #15  
    I disagree about the hub. The app list is fine as it is right now.
    Your notification center concept is great, though. I would make it a tile as you describe and open right away in the list of different notifications. Simple, and no other lists or slides in there, just notifications.
  16. JSern's Avatar
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    #16  
    What about checking in the notification center while being in an app?
  17. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSern View Post
    What about checking in the notification center while being in an app?
    Good point.
    With the current concept you would have to use the Windows button to go back to the home screen and view the notification tile, then hit Back and go back to the app.

    I was thinking maybe a small icon near the battery and reception bars could show you a number telling you if you have new notifications. Then again, you can't see the bar either while in an app.

    Need to think more about that...
  18. TofuDelight's Avatar
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    #18  
    What's the point of the notifications? You can already get it on the start screen, especially if you have a double wide tile. I think it's too repetitive, making it confusing where is the go-to place to look.
  19. AgentTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TofuDelight View Post
    What's the point of the notifications? You can already get it on the start screen, especially if you have a double wide tile. I think it's too repetitive, making it confusing where is the go-to place to look.
    There are actually two points. First, while an app creates a toast message for you to view, it is not guaranteed to keep an archive of the messages it produces for you to view later, so the notification might get lost forever. Second, if you haven't pinned an app to the start screen and you miss the toast notification you won't know there was a message the app wanted to show you and you might not check the app for a long time.

    As it is possible to tackle these two problems without compromising the design of the OS and - despite what you said - it is possible to come up with a design that is not confusing, I think there should be a notification center available. If you don't like it, you can ignore it and unpin the notification tile from your start screen, no harm done.
  20. WPhoton's Avatar
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    #20  
    Just one problem: where would Settings, Games, Messages, Store (Marketplace) and Phone be placed? Inside the App Hub?
    Sorry but I don't like the Android concept of "everything is an app". Windows Phone is the opposite of that. A big part of what you need is already preloaded in your phone and an App is not required for doing that.
    I really never felt the need of a Notification Center. I have live tiles for doing about the same but they aren't annoying like the notifications (that still there for about 5 seconds). I don't know why you all care so much about a Notification Center but your concept is not bad (if it exists as double swipe to left from the Start Menu instead of inside an app).
    Sorry for disagreeing, but this is my opinion...
  21. WPhoton's Avatar
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    #21  
    Just one problem: where would Settings, Games, Messages, Store (Marketplace) and Phone be placed? Inside the App Hub?
    Sorry but I don't like the Android concept of "everything is an app". Windows Phone is the opposite of that. A big part of what you need is already preloaded in your phone and an App is not required for doing that.
    I really never felt the need of a Notification Center. I have live tiles for doing about the same but they aren't annoying like the notifications (that still there for about 5 seconds). I don't know why you all care so much about a Notification Center but your concept is not bad (if it exists as double swipe to left from the Start Menu instead of inside an app).
    Sorry for disagreeing, but this is my opinion...
  22. zorb58's Avatar
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    #22  
    Just the sheer fact that it is a hub intrigues me... Hubs are arguably the least used "feature" of Windows Phone. I'm not a developer and don't know much about WP development but unless hub creation is limited only to Microsoft and partners, (which I sincerely hope ISN'T the case because to me that's just stupid) I'd love to see more hubs being created. All around great idea. I love that there are people so passionate about this platform to think up and mockup things like this.
  23. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #23  
    Quote Originally Posted by AgentTheGreat View Post
    It seems that you do have a problem with Panorama view. I may pose the same question: would you ask for Pictures, Music + Video and People hubs to be dumped and the entire Panorama view concept to be dropped, and if not, what's the difference here?
    Panorama is typically used as the landing page, displaying highlights and allowing you to navigate to the more list-oriented, pivot-based screens. Pictures and Music+Video hub both turn to the pivot layout when it comes to listing the respective media. People is an exception, and I think the oversized panorama title does it no favours in terms of usability.
  24. Judge_Daniel's Avatar
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    Ever since the mention of "folders", I've wished that MS would allow us to group apps into hubs. In each hub would be the usual launch shortcuts, as well as a notification center for the apps assigned to the hub. That way, you could have live tiles that pull directly from said notification centers. It is similar to what you suggest, but instead of all of them being together, there would be various hubs, such as social media, favorite games, or whatever you want to name them.

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  25. tN0
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    Take a look at how the Zune HD's interface looked on the start screen. This is where the apps list comes from. It's the soul of the Metro design. The apps list isn't just a list like contacts but a part of the Start screen. Think about it as the Start screen sorted alphabetically. That's why it works like a Pivot control.

    A better solution to see all notifications in one place would be to "sort" the Start screens tiles chronologically by swiping to the other side, displaying a list of all missed notifications.
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