Saturday, June 16, 2012

Focus-Stealing: Just one example of why people like new, mobile UIs

Focus-stealing is a very old problem, but Webex is a terrible offender. Worst part--it does it when the meeting is being closed! So, the use case:

1. Webex meeting occupies your attention
2. Meeting winds down
3. Jump over to whatever you urgently need to do
4. Webex grabs the scope

Solution...Windows should have some kind of notification bar/window, where an app can tell you if it is doing stuff and maybe you want to check it out.

In fact, the whole notification metaphor is a problem. A lot of people live and die by their Outlook calendar reminders. But if your reminder happens to activate while you are away from your desk, it is very easy to not see it. Contrast this with the Android notification bar, which is low-key but nicely persistent.

These are old, crufty problems. Perhaps they could be solved in legacy UIs, but there is so much resistance to doing so. Then a fresh, new UI paradigm comes along, simpler, cleaner and without these problems, and it feels so good.

(While we are on the subject of the Android Notification Bar, it is not perfect...it gets way too cluttered with unimportant notifications. It seems like more and more apps want to put their icon into the notification bar. That is more analogous to the Windows system tray (status) than a true notification (something happened, pay attention).)

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