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Please don't limit cover actions to one in SailfishOS 2.0 [answered]

asked 2015-02-15 20:22:50 +0300

g7 gravatar image

updated 2015-02-17 22:37:20 +0300

foss4ever gravatar image

While looking at recent changes in sailfish-browser's GitHub commit history, I found this commit that disabled the cancel/refresh cover action in Sailfish >= 2.0.

I have then looked again at the tablet renders in jolla.com/tablet and found something that I've overlooked earlier: also the music player has only one cover action (play/pause)!

Both the cancel/refresh action in the browser and the forward one in the music player are actions that I (and I think many others) use daily and it would be sad to see them go in SailfishOS 2.0.

Would it be possible to reconsider this (design, I guess) decision?

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The question has been closed for the following reason "the question is answered, an answer was accepted" by r0kk3rz
close date 2015-08-26 15:40:21.004414



I brought this up in November. The only reaction I got then was a 'lol' by one of the moderators. Well...


ossi1967 ( 2015-02-15 20:53:55 +0300 )edit

Interesting find! If this is the truth and as the source code lines do not lie, this must be communicated sooner than later. Developers implement fancy two-action covers just to find out their work and program functions are abandoned once they move to tablet or phone gets upgraded to v2.0.

Nekron ( 2015-02-15 21:28:19 +0300 )edit

@ossi1967 I don't think that your question is really related to this issue. I am not sure if >2 actions are a good idea (but maybe it will work nice, who knows), while limiting the actions to only one seams baseless. We all know that two actions work fine (and I use them daily, especially in the web browser), so I would really like to hear the logic behind removing it.

nodevel ( 2015-02-15 22:17:47 +0300 )edit

@nodevel: I'm referring to the whole thread. Read Chemist's answer


and then my first comment on it.

ossi1967 ( 2015-02-15 22:32:34 +0300 )edit

@Nekron: I think that support for two cover actions will remain in SFOS 2.0 (at least for the first few releases), so 3rd-party apps would not be affected. Of course it's only a guess.

g7 ( 2015-02-15 22:53:50 +0300 )edit

6 Answers

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answered 2015-03-07 04:00:13 +0300

Christian Emlek gravatar image

updated 2015-03-07 04:02:10 +0300

As one of the very first Jolla supporter since july 2012 and (also made the trip from France to Helsinki to buy the Jolla Phone at the Jolla Launch Event on Novenber, 27, 2013, also supported and ordered Jolla Tablet on Indiegogo), I am very sad and desapointed to see such changes. One of my favorite feature on Sailfish OS over other OSs was the great cover actions swipes. The point of Sailfish OS was to use gestures instead of taps on tiny buttons because it is really easier to perform a gest when holding the phone with one hand and moving, and now with Sailfish OS 2.0 we will get back and have to look at the screen and tap on a tiny button exactly like other OSs...If Jolla continues such direction with Sailfish OS (I mean not respecting the very first philosophy behind Sailfish OS UI design), I am afraid I will be forced consider leaving the Jolla Boat.

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@Christian Emlek i understand what you mean. but i think that not so fair against jolla-team, if you force them to go, if you are not satisfied. You know, they make a lots of effort to listen to the community. There is some people where the swipe is complete unnatural (not me, i love the swipe). I find their decision normal. And the good way on our side, if we are against it, is to tell it (what you do...right), but in a constructive way. We have understand, that really important for you. But why not present a suggestion. I have one, and i'll present it in a thread, then. Hope that you could participate on it.

cemoi71 ( 2015-03-07 22:33:57 +0300 )edit


cemoi71 ( 2015-03-07 23:37:06 +0300 )edit

exactly Christian, yesterday i borrowed jolla to totally non-pc oriented guy, i only show him how to swipe to home screen or close app and how coverpages works. he said omg thats superfantastic and addictive! that will be my next phone.

swipes made sailfish OS Unlike, but sadly, android or ios users pushes their (devs,bosses...) ideas to that way of some buttons and focusing on the operation instead of doing same thing but fast and on blind ,

why dont you implement Home button, be more like others and then get more customers??? huh pretty Unlike style

pan tau ( 2015-09-06 05:06:44 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-03-02 16:58:33 +0300

ossi1967 gravatar image

updated 2015-03-02 17:00:12 +0300

I'd hate to have only one cover action per running applictaion in SF 2.0, but look at this (very nice) demonstration of the tablet by Stefano himself:


First thing we notice is that we have a lot of horizontal swiping from the home screen. So it might have been easier not to associate cover actions with yet another swipe gesture. ("Does the user want to leave the home screen or pause the running track?")

The second thing we see is how Stefano activates the cover action at
(note the keyboard, btw.)
He taps at the sympol rather that dragging/moving it.

I've noticed that this was the way most new users tried to handle the cover shortcuts: by tapping on them. So it will probably be easier for new users to use this feature. - What i still don't understand, though, is why we cannot have two icons to tap on rather than one.

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Yes, after seeing the video I can definitely see why they are removing the second cover action from the stock applications. Pheraps it would be a good idea to keep two cover actions but having them activated via an up/down swipe (that will not clash with the lockscreen or the application drawer anymore).

g7 ( 2015-03-02 17:23:26 +0300 )edit

@ossi1967 perhaps that some people have wider finger, and with the capacitive aura or the finger activity zone on tablet is so wide that it could not give the place for 2 near of each other.

I understand that jolla think on those people. that great. But, there is other people who are skilled on the swipe gesture of it.
It is not natural for new users, that's right. But it is so practicable.
I think it should be a compromise of it. The cover-action as tapping should be the default possibility. But an option should be as swiping, if user want it.
Would be nice that Jolla-dev not forget, what the user want. I am sure that a lots of people want a tap, but i am sure too that a lot of users want a swipe.

cemoi71 ( 2015-03-02 19:34:30 +0300 )edit

This is the reason behind changing it to a tap: https://twitter.com/JaakkoRoppola/status/572442402612518913

I still don't get why they are removing the second one, but I think that this change (tapping) is most unfortunate - it will be very confusing, having to tap on a certain part on the app cover to open the app, without triggering an action. Especially for new users...

nodevel ( 2015-03-03 00:03:17 +0300 )edit

I understand the thinking behind this change, but I don't like it at all. As stated before, in my opinion the cover swipe action is one of the best elements of Sailfish UI...

casanunda ( 2015-03-03 16:49:36 +0300 )edit

Furthermore, one action is not enough. E.g. I like the cover actions Tweetian uses and wouldn't know which to discard. Furthermore some cover actions trigger something (e.g. refreshing) without opening the app.

schmittlauch ( 2015-03-04 00:13:16 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-05-01 15:35:00 +0300

HansA gravatar image

As Jolla states in their "Design Insights", the support for two cover actions will not be removed! Only some system apps will be reduced to one action.

"[..]After critically reviewing our current set we had to admit that some actions did not fulfill our targets anymore. Therefore we removed some, without removing the support for two cover actions altogether because they are convenient for e.g. the music playing use case."

See: https://blog.jolla.com/design-insights-sailfish-os/ under "Reduced set of Cover actions"

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Yes, but the same documents also states: "[...]In order to avoid accidentally activated actions while swiping between Home, Events and the new ‘Partner space’ we altered the interaction of the cover action, from horizontal swipe towards a tap interaction.[...]"

While I myself am not too partial towards the actual swipes, I seem to read from this thread that some people are.

dyraig ( 2015-05-01 16:40:56 +0300 )edit

Yes, I knew that. I only want to answer to the thread starter. I like the cover-swipe-gestures and I am unsure if the tab-action will do the job as good. But this is already disscused here: https://together.jolla.com/question/84391/hyc-dont-replace-cover-action-pulls-with-buttons/

HansA ( 2015-05-02 15:23:01 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-02-16 15:57:33 +0300

mikelima gravatar image

I think it is too early to discard the change of direction on cover actions.

We can see they are limiting them to one now for a few programs, bbut we do not know why this decision has been made.

Maybe the revised user interface makes cover actions impractical, maybe it is considered too difficult for most users to use.

Hopefully there will be alternatives.

The cover action seem to work as a limited "pie menu" system. Maybe more actions can be put back in an easier to handle way through a more complete implementation of pie menus.

In any case, let us wait and see the new user interface before judging it.

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@mikelima i agree with you that is not possible to make some fast conclusion for the end version of the os. as you said, maybe there will be a new handle design, or the end-design was not really completed, and an other way is found for having it. who knows.

but i agree that the action in could make some reactions. and i think this thread is not bad. That's great that g7 was aware of it, and put it on front. Then maybe we will know more about the plan that currently work (i hope).

cemoi71 ( 2015-02-16 17:14:48 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-02-16 14:09:29 +0300

cemoi71 gravatar image

updated 2015-02-16 14:10:04 +0300

I give you right that cover actions are really fine controls.
i dont really understand why it will be cancelled.
seems for me that they are in test phases.
Maybe they currently need it to deactivate
And as the the comment tell the cancel will be remove as soon as the revision stand will be the v2.0.
Don't you think so?

That is my interpretation. I agree that we could interpret in many other way.
Let us have confirmation of it..

PS: for those who don't have really the need to have it, could be fine to deactivate it on demand in os-config (just a mind-working).

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The comment is for the whole CoverActionList. Source code can't be interpreted differently, it just does what you tell it to do.

Sthocs ( 2015-02-16 14:37:06 +0300 )edit

The CoverActions in Silica are wrapped inside a CoverActionList. In the browser's case, there is a CoverActionList with inside the add new tab and refresh actions.

With the commit mentioned in the OP, they inserted a new CoverActionList with only the Add New Tab action that is enabled only when the SailfishOS version is 2.0 or greater.

The comment they put is only to remind them to remove the older list with both the actions (the one we have in SailfishOS 1.x) once SailfishOS 2.0 is released.

This leads me to believe that the change is not for technical reasons, but for design ones.

g7 ( 2015-02-16 15:37:55 +0300 )edit

I understand more or less what you mean, maybe you have right. That's clear what the code means, i understand it in this way too. But it doesn't really reveal what is it planed for the long term. Software Requirement are not published. I still give it for a solution before release.

And sorry, but a not really documented comment at this level of code, which bring just confusion for people who are not in dev-team, has nothing to do inside. maybe i'm wrong, I refer just to some coding "codex" that i use in my environment. Definitively i would not do this, in the way of the coding line that i know...

Please don't forget that the os is on dev. Could you tell me what is motivation to activate a code, depends on the software version? The code is for os v2.0 and more, but will never to stay at v1.x. If it should disappear, then better is completely to delete the code, instead of produce dead-code to activated/deactivated on demand. If this type of coding appears in lots of part of source-code, it take a lots of place, and resource for nothing (that's my thinking). The code make for me a nonsense. That's why is for me not definitive. but i can't be 100% sure. human are so unpredictable!! ;-)

That is good that the vote still goes up, so that some people will be aware. and let us see what does the jolla-men in charge will answer.
maybe it could be an other design type that it need it.
I am curious on how will this theme evolve....

cemoi71 ( 2015-02-16 17:06:49 +0300 )edit

There is a version check because that code will probably be used in update12 and update13 (and I'm assuming here that SailfishOS 2.0 is update14, but it's only a guess), which are still SailfishOS 1.x.

They will remove the old CoverActionList on SailfishOS 2.0 simply because the browser on older updates won't be updated anymore.

g7 ( 2015-02-16 17:43:52 +0300 )edit

@g7 you told: "...They will remove the old CoverActionList on SailfishOS 2.0 simply because the browser on older updates won't be updated anymore."
Where or what are your sources? you seems to be really good informed...

cemoi71 ( 2015-02-16 23:22:46 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-02-15 21:25:07 +0300

Copernicus gravatar image

I don't see a problem with limiting the number of cover actions in the running apps display; personally, I don't think there should be any actions at all. The concept of a miniaturized interface containing the most common controls for an app otherwise running in the background has been well understood for many years now; it is called a "widget".

I don't think it would be so hard for Jolla to allow some form of widgetization within Sailfish. In fact, a very easy way to do it would be to pull a concept from OS X -- that is, create a separate "widget panel" to hold the widgets, something that would pop up when you want to use it, and be hidden again when you're done with it. There's already a TJC question bringing up this concept...

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I disagree with this. A widget like seen on e.g. N900 is something that is permanently visible to the user. Like maybe the upcoming changes for home screen. There you can place a widget like weather forecast you name it.

An application cover opens once the app has been launched. Therefor the cover on the current running applications grid is just fine to have coveractions with it. Limiting actions will reduce smart behaviour if there is no other alternative ui voodoo coming.

Nekron ( 2015-02-15 21:39:40 +0300 )edit

I don't mind widgets at all.. and i hope it is added at some point, but something more contextual and temporary is also really nice imho. Cover actions are a good way to achieve this, and two is a nice non-confusing, rather fail-safe number.

attah ( 2015-02-15 22:53:29 +0300 )edit

@Nekron: Widgets on the N900 (or on Android) are already tied to a concept of a multiple-screen desktop; so, the widgets are in fact not permanently visible (unless the user only uses one screen for their desktop). Nor are they visible when a normal-sized app is running; nor when the screen is locked or dark. In short, I think users of cellphones that do have widgets are already comfortable with the idea that they have to do something to make a widget visible. :)

The "cover actions" concept provides some of the functionality of a widget, but at a cost: very few controls can be provided to each app, and they must all work in exactly the same way. Providing a full-fledged widget interface would provide a great deal more flexibility for certain apps that work well as a widget (weather, music player, etc.), and allow users to access these controls from a fixed location in the UI (as has been asked in other TJC questions).

Copernicus ( 2015-02-15 23:12:04 +0300 )edit

@Copernicus: I strongly disagree - to me the active covers are the most interesting and unique part of the whole Sailfish UI. And for me it's perfect to have the two actions - swiping left and right - for each app. E.g. in music player, it is actually easier and faster to pause or switch to next song using the cover action than hitting the button in the main app's UI (driving in my car, I can find the app cover with my thumb and swipe "almost" without looking, while it takes half a second of my concentration to locate the "pause" button and hit it (since it is smaller).

casanunda ( 2015-02-16 13:41:16 +0300 )edit

@casanunda: I will concede that the active covers are indeed "interesting" and "unique", but I just don't find them a worthy replacement for widgets. There are many widgets where just a few more controls would make a lot of difference; for example, a media player with three controls (previous, play/pause, next), or even better, five controls (previous, rewind, play/pause, fast-forward, next) can make managing media a whole lot easier. Also, if you're going to interact with the app, a miniature view of what the app looks like on the full screen is not terribly useful; it's easy to recognize the app (which is useful when managing running apps), but too small to easily see the details.

Managing apps and interacting with apps are different tasks, with different requirements. I would just like to keep the two separate. :)

Copernicus ( 2015-02-16 17:44:23 +0300 )edit

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Asked: 2015-02-15 20:22:50 +0300

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Last updated: May 01 '15