Sunday, 16 January 2011

Android is everywhere in CES.

CES 2011 could easily have been renamed to Android Show 2011. If CES can be thought as a guideline what we can expect to see this year (which I think we can) this year will be a Cambrian Explosion of new Android devices. Although piles of new Android phones were released most of the devices introduced in the show were something completely different. And I'm not only talking about the tablets!

In this blog post I go through many of the different kinds of devices from CES and talk about implications these new device categories when building Android applications especially from UI design patterns' point of view.



In-Car systems


In-car systems are very natural continuation from smart phones and tablets for running Android. It is another mobile platform that can provide a lot of value to the end users.
It is very interesting to see what designers and developers come up with in this new application context.

(Phandroid article)

UI Design Patterns that are suitable to this environment

  • Dashboard
  • Action bar
Not so well suited Patterns
  • Action drawer
  • Sliding tabs



Headphones


Nox Audio introduces a headset running Android. With a small screen they provide possibility for audio streaming and VOIP call. 

For app developers this kind of device will present quite a challenge especially if same interface is going to be used also in other devices. In this kind of device user isn't probably going to be looking at the screen when using it. 



UI Design Patterns that are suitable to this environment
  • Dashboard
  • Action drawer
Not so well suited Patterns
  • Action bar
  • Sliding tabs



Ski goggles



These ski goggles contain a small display, GPS and other connectivity features. Very simple three button  interface allows user to operate the system even with ski gloves on. 



UI Design Patterns that are suitable to this environment
  • Dashboard
Not so well suited Patterns
  • Action bar
  • Action drawer
  • Sliding tabs


Audio players


Creative ZEN Android audio player

Audio players with Android is another very natural continuum from smart phones. This type of devices are also probably the easiest ones to support with the existing UI design patterns. These are basically smart phones without phone functionality.




UI Design Patterns that are suitable to this environment
  • Dashboard
  • Action bar
  • Action drawer
  • Sliding tabs



TVs and remotes


Google TV has been in headlines for a half a year now. Recent setbacks have postponed the project for few months and therefore not many manufacturers presented Google TV at CES. That didn't stop other manufacturers from introducing their Android based non-GoogleTV TV-products. Interestingly some manufacturers ship Android on both remote control and TV. 

TV is going to very different platform from smart phones and not only because of the large screen but also lack of phone functionality, accelerometers, GPS and very different interaction model introduce new challenges to developers. Also, use context and group of users for these devices are different. This device is no longer personal but instead has a larger group of people using the one device.


UI Design Patterns that are suitable to this environment
  • Dashboard
  • Action bar
Not so well suited Patterns
  • Action drawer
  • Sliding tabs



New hybrid devices (Motorola Atrix)

Motorola Atrix phone dock, Webtop.

Motorola Atrix is an interesting phone. But what is even more interesting is a dock Motorola has come up. Motorola calls is a "Webtop" which seems to be very descriptive name. You connect your Atrix phone into the dock which then allows you to use full sized keyboard and bigger display for either using your phone or the Firefox browser that is included in the dock.



UI Design Patterns that are suitable to this environment
  • Dashboard
  • Action bar
  • Action drawer
  • Sliding tabs



External keyboards for TVs and tablets

Remote control keyboard


Although these devices don't run Android themselves they affect the way users interact their devices and therefore should be kept in mind when designing UIs. 




Dual-screen tablets

NEC dual-screen Android tablet


CES was full of new tablet announcements but as most of them were following the normal tablet form factor NEC introduced something different. Their vision of tablet has two screens joint together. The display is resistive which enables use of a stylus for writing. 

Interestingly the demo device already had applications on it that were specially adapted for two display use. In the picture above one can clearly see that NEC has followed Google's UI design pattern guidelines in their application development. While both screens have clear action bar on top of the screen for controls and navigation aid the left screen has a dashboard on it. Their chosen approach seems to be very functional.




UI Design Patterns that are suitable to this environment
  • Dashboard
  • Action bar
  • Action drawer
  • Sliding tabs




Prototyping kits

Exercise bike concept running Android
Microwave oven concept running Android
Washer concept running Android

One of my favorite products from CES got to be Touch Revolution's Android based prototyping kit. As someone working in a tech role in a creative company this kind of kit can be very valuable to us. This kit enables simple prototyping of almost any touch screen device designers might come up with. 






Thank you to Phandroid.com for an excellent CES coverage that made writing this blog entry possible.