Monday, October 15, 2012

Android orientation observations

I really really enjoy my Nexus 7, and I'm excited about the prospect of a 10" Android tablet from Google. At first blush, the tablet appears to be a personal device, but I have to say, it's so easy to share... I can hand it to you and say, "look at this": shared. I can sit down on the couch with one of my children on each side and we can watch cooking videos together: shared.

This is not OLPC... this is One Tablet per Couch, and I think that's a really important distinction, until the tablet supports local development, which I don't think it ever will.

I like the portrait-centred form factor, and I am frustrated by applications that flop around when I lay the tablet flat. I've talked about this before; when I look at the tablet I see a perfect place to prototype and play board games, for which you need to lay the tablet flat. A Monopoly board doesn't have portrait or landscape orientation. People sit around it and interact with it equally. This should also be true of a table when it is laid flat, and it can never be true of a mouse-driven device. Never. That's the power of touch.

At this point, I see the tablet having 3 basic modes, and I hope application design moves in this direction: portrait mode is for typical operation, like reading books or web pages, etc; certain types of content (video, text annotation, high quality images) break out into landscape automatically - I'll re-orient the device and share with the people around me when this happens; and laid flat, any other orientation is inconsequential - it's a free for all.

Please comment... this makes absolute sense to me, but maybe differs from other people's tablet experience.

My other quibble at this point, coming from a board game lover: SVG support in Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean is good, but not great. I would love to see an Android OS that provides better support for SVG filters and SVG DOM manipulation using WG XPath - but that's a subject for another day.