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Gripes with 2.x. - Improving the UI/UX.

asked 2016-09-22 14:09:34 +0300

ApB gravatar image

Some time ago, in one of the meetings, we discussed stuff around the slowness -in terms of interaction- introduced in the UI/UX after the 2.x release. The discussion led to no results thus far but the people at Jolla - @joona-petrell to be exact- asked for suggestions on things that can be improved on the interface. While i don't expect much to change on the OS -because jolla resources, because designers etc etc- below is a list (rant) of things that i still hate with a passion and i firmly believe make SFOS worst than what it can be.

Of course someone can use patches for some of those or write new one that fix the issues but that is not the solution I'd like to see. The idea is to make it better -from my POV at least - for anyone using the SFOS.

1) Duplication of gestures. I'll say this till i die -or until it changes- and if necessary I'll have it engraved in my tombstone. We have gestures that do more than one thing and 2 gestures for the same action. To be exact. 2 gestures to minimize apps and the same gesture to close an app (if you enable the option) and lock the device. If you don't have the option to close the app with a top swipe you don't have a fast way of closing an app. Which personally i find annoying in many cases. The left swipe can be customized to take you to the events page but not for something else.

2) Inconsistencies. Look of apps and accounts settings in the settings menu. They look out of place compared to the other items on the list. The apps settings also should look less than a launcher and more like a list. Also on the accounts settings making the addition of an account a pulley action instead of a button seems more SFOSish.

3) Action slowness. 1.x > swipe from top, 2.x swipe and tap. Two moves = slower interaction. The problem sums up in the previous sentence.I firmly believe that the goal for deciding how something works is "Do the action with minimum amount of moves". Plus in the case of lock it broke a habit that most users have developed by using SFOS 1.x. And this brings us to the next point.

4) Feature promotion vs actual use. (at least seems as feature promotion to me) I understand that ambiances and on the fly customization are one of the selling points of SFOS -leaving outside the fact that is not 100% implemented yet- BUT how often someone changes ambiance? Even if you do it 5 times a times a day is a setting option that can easily be moved to the lock screen pulley menu. It adds clutter to an action that you do far more often in the course of a day. (see above)

5)Long reaches. An area that needs a bit more thought now that phones have become bigger and human hands are not evolving fast enough. Swipes are awesome of course but there are areas like the launchers and folders that make it difficult to reach stuff even for people with normal-large hands. Another example are notifications and remorse timers. They appear on the very top also making it difficult to reach.

6) Elements changing while you interact. Closing multiple apps on home screen. They move around as you hit the close button and make the whole experience a bit frustrating. Rearranging them after you finished closing them i think would be better.

7) The whole lock screen/event screen pulley menu situation. Thing are all over the place. Not every option can be added to each menu. (ie can't have torch on the lockscreen). Plus having to move to the even screen to access that menu feels slow compared to having it on the home screen.

8) Differentiate the lock screen. Self explanatory i think. Lock screens use the same background and the differentiation of date/time/provider is not significant enough. Even the arrows that tell you to swipe to unlock aren't present all the time to make someone understand what to do. In some cases -like when plugging headphones- the arrows don't even appear.

9) Utilities. The whole menu is a wall of text with buttons on it. Needs better design.

Hope the above is read by the designers and other Jolla people in charge of UI, things mentioned taken into account and fixed sooner rather later. Feel free to debate or add other stuff you get annoyed by.

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Good text. Regarding 1) I think closing an app by swipe down and "closing"/locking the device via the same gesture while being on the home screen is okay, since the functionality is similar. I fully agree on 3), 4), 5) and 7). I personally am not really bothered by the other points.

till ( 2016-09-22 15:56:11 +0300 )edit

@till, that's exactly what I thought when I read item 1. How can someone consider closing something in one screen (say, an application) and another screen (say, home) different actions is beyond me. In both cases you close whatever is on the screen.

I do find the need for the extra tap strange and inconsistent, I give you that.

Regarding other points, I did not read them, sorry. You may have a point but it was just way too much text.

pichlo ( 2016-09-22 20:09:45 +0300 )edit

My thinking behind arguing against the top swipe doing two things comes from this: One is that actions based on context need the user -or at least me- to pay more attention compared to an action that does the same thing all the time and two that closing an app is a long reach. Of course someone will say that locking the phone is also a long reach. True but its usually the last thing you do before putting it away meaning you can hold it a bit differently (test how you hold your phone while you put it in your pocket or leaving it on a desk next to you compared to when doing something) and make swiping easier (assuming the dreaded tap currently needed is gone).

ApB ( 2016-09-22 21:41:43 +0300 )edit

I hold my phone quite a bit further up, to be able to guide it into my pocket better (I put it with speaker down), which means I reach the top of the screen quite comfortably to be able to lock it. Besides the comfort of being able to lock the screen without looking, I think you're onto something with the consistency argument - where closing an app and closing the screen should be the same gesture. Why can't ambiances be a pulley on the home screen, now that we can't go to the lock screen from the home screen? In SfOS 1 I regularly switch sounds on/off using the lock screen pulley. Having a special pulley for ambiances in the home screen would behave similar, with using ambiances instead of a simple switch.

Mohjive ( 2016-09-22 22:50:02 +0300 )edit

Point 6 is also especially true for remorse timer actions. Want to remove 2 or 3 images from Gallery, so multiple selection isn't worth it? Good luck!

Tofe ( 2016-09-23 10:22:00 +0300 )edit

4 Answers

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answered 2016-09-22 15:58:28 +0300

nthn gravatar image

Posting as an answer because long comments are difficult to read.

5: I don't know where else you could place the notifications. Anywhere other than the top would end up getting in your way more often than it would stay out of it. At the bottom of the screen you would always tap on incoming notifications while you're typing on the keyboard, and somewhere in the middle will end up frustrating because an incoming notification will obscure the message you're trying to read or replying to, the video you're watching, webpage you're viewing, etc.

9: I don't know if a better design for Utilities is really necessary. The only reason it exists is to work around known bugs (with known workarounds). Besides, I think it works quite well as it is, a no nonsense approach with descriptions telling you what exactly will happen if you press the button.

Otherwise I completely agree, especially with regards to the swipe-tap to lock the screen. The ambiences would be much better off as they were in the beginning, as part of the homescreen 'carousel'. You hit the nail on the head: even if you switch between ambiences all day, which I don't think anyone does considering after three years they still essentially do nothing except change the colours, you lock the screen every single time you use the phone.

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The notifications is a tricky one. From the top of my head i'd rather have them in place i can reach them easily (middle) where i can swipe to hide them -and continue what i do- or tap and go to the app. And the above requires a way to set the urgency of notifications. Its quite different being interrupted for an SMS than a like in facebook or something similar to this.

As for the Utils i understand the reason they exist but i see no excuse in having it implemented in this somehow crude way. I'd prefer something like a list of the functions > tap the one you want > read the text of what it does > use pulley to activate.

ApB ( 2016-09-22 21:55:15 +0300 )edit

@nthn I removed all the stars from the ambience, so they do not show up on the lock screen gesture and then using the patch swipe down to lock...just trying to handle the limitations. I do not switch at all the ambience, just made one I like, maybe I change it some time. Noisy or quite environment, I use the volume up/'s more faster and fits better.

poddl ( 2016-09-23 01:40:49 +0300 )edit

@ApB, then you just create more of the action slowness you were complaining about. Instead of simply tapping to execute, you'd have to tap and then use a pulley menu. Not to mention you don't even know what whatever you selected is actually going to do, so you could end up tapping, going back, tapping again, then using the pulley menu. Really, if there's only one thing to do and there is definitely enough space on the screen, a pulley menu is more of a nuisance than anything. This is why in Settings some pulley menus were changed to buttons instead.

@poddl, of course we can all use patches to change everything, but if everyone is using a patch to get a certain functionality, maybe that patch shouldn't exist and it should be part of the operating system instead.

nthn ( 2016-09-23 19:06:19 +0300 )edit

@ApB Yes this is my opinion too. Having an option (in Settings) for some things would be the right choice. Especially if you gonna change very often used items.

poddl ( 2016-09-23 20:25:24 +0300 )edit

@nthn guilty as charged on the slowness it introduces. Its just that it will be more aesthetically pleasing from my POV. The design i "suggest" is somehow like the image below :

ApB ( 2016-09-23 20:50:03 +0300 )edit

answered 2016-09-22 22:34:36 +0300

Mohjive gravatar image

The one thing I cannot understand with SfOS 2 is the change to global launcher placement and static placement of apps on the home screen. With the static placement of open apps on home screen, and keeping OOM-closed apps cover, it acts much as a launcher itself (with an extra action as a cover action, that I accidentally tap from time to time - which I hate). One of the selling points of SfOS to me was the multitasking ability and with that the home screen. With SfOS 2 it's easier to open the launcher and "re-open" the app instead of going to the home screen and tap it there. So what's the use of the home screen when you have a global launcher? Especially when the cover actions are crippled. I would like to have a more differentiated use of the launcher and the home screen.

I don't care for the global launcher and prefer the global events view at the bottom as in SfOS 1 instead. How often do you (need to) launch a new app anyway (especially if the cover of closed apps are still present on the home screen). I know about the "left swipe to events"-setting, but as I'm holding the phone with my right hand most of the times, reaching over the phone for the left edge put real strain on my thumb. Also with SfOS 1 you could go into the events view and when you closed it you were back at the app you had open before. With SfOS 2 you have to swipe to either the home screen or the launcher and tap the app again. It's not possible to browse through events as a side action, instead it behaves as an app itself. I wan't events view to become a first class OS-citizen again, not behaving as a "mere" application.

The one thing I had a really hard time living with, in SfOS 2, is the static placement of the apps on the home screen. It doesn't fit me at all. As it's not static between boots (how could it), it's just random to me. The top six apps I took the effort to rearrange every boot, but I don't have the energy to do it to them all, which means the rest of the apps are at different positions from week to week. To me it feels that Jolla tried to imitate Android widgets, but without having thought it through thoroughly. Without having the ability to keep positions between boots it forces the user to manage that every boot. If you could pin an app at a special position and either launch it, or just place its cover there, at each boot it would be much better.

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@Mohjive the main point is that they were working on the UI from a tablet device perspective, so apps has to stay on screen, otherwise the tablet screen is only half full.


the carousel removes the ability to use cover actions (left and right swipe) for useful things, like before and is for switching between 2 screens, all the time in a row (carousel), is the smallest carousel on earth..


I do complain to just change very useful use cases and do not give the user the option in settings menu to decide by his own, what he like to use, a phone or a tablet on a phone.


Just try the patch "No Home Carousel" a few days, and you will see how stupid the carousel is.


There is also a patch which re-opens your apps on start, I do not use it, but I was smiling to see how people try to get around with this UI and the limitations. Yes the home screen was a launcher, no it is a collection of recently used apps...nearly unusable, still after this long time using it. You see in the top post, the users need the swipe down for closing apps, of course, because if no closing you find them anyway not anymore :-) The design of smartphones was to NOT closing apps, as long as they not hang. Closing apps is (or should be) the job of the OS.


And do not forget, the tablet debacle nearly killed them....but still very view phone optimizes since the V2. I guess they still recheck every new UI function with one of this rare tablets and phone user's seems not to stay on first line.


Sorry for being so harsh, but I use now a long time the V 2.*, and still feel not comfortable, having 7 patches for the UI running

poddl ( 2016-09-23 01:28:46 +0300 )edit

The design of smartphones was to NOT closing apps, as long as they not hang. Closing apps is (or should be) the job of the OS. To me this is quite nonsense. I couldn't use an OS which wouldn't allow me to close/kill running app.

sepuka ( 2016-09-23 13:24:36 +0300 )edit

Everyone complained about the application covers moving all over the place every time you opened a new one. You always had to look where the cover of the application you wanted was before you could use it, now you (can) know where it is before you even go back to the home screen. Covers not persisting after reboots is just a (frustratingly) missing feature.

nthn ( 2016-09-23 19:10:20 +0300 )edit

@sepuka I'm not speaking about not allowing at all, I think it does not need a very direct shortcut like I read before, the people just swipe down to closing the app, they generally use it in this way. It does not help for long battery lasting, your battery drops faster. I personally use this top swipe action (of course with a patch) to lock my phone.

poddl ( 2016-09-23 20:31:06 +0300 )edit

@nthn I like to see, how presisting covers works, because i do not have all times the same apps open...leave it blank between :-) SF1 used it as a task switcher, and it was working like every task switcher on earth..last opened app on first position. Don't know, how to call it now, maybe "recently used apps" ?

poddl ( 2016-09-23 20:35:11 +0300 )edit

answered 2016-09-22 17:47:38 +0300

thisisme gravatar image

Quick settings / shortcuts screen is still hard to reach in my opinion. Perhaps left edge swipe could be configured to go straight to this screen instead of events (or have an option for it).

I have also made a similar suggestion in this question: Settings shortcuts and quick actions in dedicated carousel page

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answered 2016-09-23 03:19:54 +0300

babba22 gravatar image

To improve swipe functionality I'd suggest to differentiate the gestures in this way: 1. Swipe from edge to screen 2. Swipe from edge to edge

For example, a swipe from rigth/left edge to the center of the screen puts the app in background while a swipe edge-to-edge close the app (or whatever action may be usefull). This way we could double the available gestures

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I think that edge-to-edge is way too long (and I have quite long fingers) but it might be interesting to use reverse of the swipe from edge: something like swipe to edge (from mid?).

sepuka ( 2016-09-23 13:27:35 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2016-09-22 14:09:34 +0300

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Last updated: Sep 23 '16