I’m still undecisive about usability qualities of the new Win8 UI, but I can’t deny how amazingly synergetic it is and how consistently Microsoft is implementing it. I’ve written about it in another post, but I’ll repeat again.
I believe, each major mobile platform has a main UI paradigm. iPhone was first on the market and could choose the easiest one – skeuomorphism. Just put a cheap bitmap image looking like expensive physical material on your UI, and use the patented flick gesture with a rubber effect, and you’ve radically improved your UX.
Android is hard to describe, but for me, it is a play of light and shadows. They have sparks, and glow, and neon light. It is more like magic, putting your fingertips into the pure energy, and weaving strings of light out of it. And yeah, when I mean Android, I mean at least the version 4 of it. What happened before, was very similar to your typical desktop Linux (GNOME) interface. A lot of good looking effects meaning nothing and not coordinated by any single concept.
Microsoft has chosen the elegance of pure vector graphic (and typography) and pure colors. Hence, extra large font sizes. Therefore, emphazis on zooming and 3D animations. The don’t-call-it-Metro interface has purity as paradigm.
And now, when I call the new Lumia amazingly synergetic, I mean its pure color of the plastic part, matching to the main theme of the UI. And this is quite unique so far. Look at the iPhone – it is piece of shiny glass; something not very similar to the typical iPhone UI elements, which oft look like plastic, or polished gemstones, or leather. Look at the most Android phones. Only Sony has managed to produce something resembling the Android’s starry night (I mean their tablet).
I believe, it is extremely hard to achieve such a UX consistency across the realms (software and hardware), and even across the companies indeed, and so I applause and envy Microsoft team for this success.