UI Showdown Reloaded Tweetbot 2 vs. Twitter 4 vs. Twitterrific 4

It has been almost 10 months since the original showdown pitting the user interfaces of Tweetbot 1.0 and Twitter for iPhone. An update was long due and last week's milestone update of Tweetbot leaves me with no excuses.

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2011 A year in Interface Design

Following a series of leaks, Microsoft finally unveiled the new hybrid UI of Windows 8, pitching it as a "no compromise" design approach that would bring the best of their desktop and mobile offerings into one unified touch-enabled OS. The typography-centric design language that they perfected in recent years, Metro, will in all likelihood become their bread and butter in the consumer market and will remain a hot topic for years to come.

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Rethinking Google+ for iOS: Take 1

Your mileage may vary, but I think Google+ has what it takes to compete against the blue juggernaut. Smart interactions and streamlined privacy controls drastically improve user experience on a social interface and Google seems to be pouring considerable resources in this direction.

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Invisible Interfaces

Amidst all the excitement around Siri, I came across an interesting article [1] from the 90s, where Mark Weiser, ex-principal scientist at Xerox PARC, voices his skepticism about voice input and intelligent agents. The central premise of his argument is that interfaces are first and foremost tools, and as such, should be invisible.

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Text Editors: A Rant

Back in the early 2000's, I designed crappy websites using clunky tools from Macromedia and Adobe. As I switched to Mac in 2006, I had the chance to give Textmate a try and was thrilled with its chromeless interface and advanced syntax highlighting. I gradually moved away from WYSIWYG tools, and before too long, I was already enjoying every line of code I write in Textmate.

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Thoughts on Scrollbars in Lion

Is it only me or is everyone whining about the 'peekaboo' scrollbars in Lion? Much like the skeuomorph controversy, there seems to be a sweeping consensus that the iOS-inspired appearance and behavior of scrollbars account for a significant usability handicap that should be addressed in one way or another. They argue that the main culprit is the loss of information stemming from the contextual disappearance of scrollbars.

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Thoughts on Skeuomorphism in UI Design

Skeuomorphs in UI design refer to interface elements that retain obsoleted visual or behavioral aspects of the physical objects they are based on. Take for instance the bumps in the F and J keys on the iPad virtual keyboard: they serve no particular purpose and are nothing more than artifacts of physical keyboards where similar indentations help provide sensory feedback to touch-typists.

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The Pitfall of Customizability in UI Design

A customizable interface is an interface that gives the user partial or total control over one or several of its properties. If my sporadic observations are anything to go by, a growing number of people involved in building user interfaces resort to customizability as a sure-fire way to empower users and give them more control over their workflows. After all, the heterogeneity of user expectations renders the challenge of designing universal interfaces unsurmountable, or so they say.

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UI Showdown: Tweetbot vs. Twitter App

Amidst the turmoil following Twitter's recent announcements concerning third party applications, Tweetbot, the long awaited Twitter client from Tapbots is finally out for iPhone and iPod Touch. The overwhelmingly positive user feedback is a clear sign that Tapbots got it right again.

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Skype 5 for Mac: Followup

I have been getting a lot of feedback on my last piece about Skype for Mac, varying from full endorsement to complete disdain.

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A Call to All UI Designers: Do Not Play Skype's Game

Several weeks ago, Skype has upgraded their Mac client with a horrendous and borderline insulting user interface. Too much white space, an over-abundance of modal controls, inconsistent interactions and intrusive features that no one needs.

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Five Things to Avoid When Receiving Design Feedback

Many of you have enjoyed my previous article about giving design feedback, so here is a follow-up dealing with the issue from a designer perspective.

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Decontextualization Kills Design

Decontextualization, as you may have guessed, is the act of stripping something out of its context. Design is intrinsically tied to the context in which it was brought into existence; taking it out of context yields some devastating effects. Sadly enough, the current trends in the design community seem to favor decontextualization at an unwitnessed scale.

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Five Things to Avoid When Giving Design Feedback

It would be hard to argue that there is no place for subjectivity in design. Unfortunately, this is the very reason that makes giving constructive design feedback a daunting challenge. Add to this the fact that not all of us are designers: sometimes you feel that something is wrong, but you can't explicitly describe it, let alone conveying it to others. Needless to say, failing to provide constructive feedback makes things a tad harder for both parties. For better results, here are five things to avoid when criticizing design:

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