When new operating systems appear, the first apps for them is software to do your day job. In an attempt to fine tune getting the job done. Then, games games games. Finally, the UI tweaks appear. For the iPhone and iPod Touch, it isn’t possible to overwrite the built in Launcher. Instead, there has been a sudden jump in applications that developers spent more time on the UI and usability over long lists of features.
It doesn’t mean functionality has to be hurt, it just means the developers worked on how you see your information. Instead of lists of notes, you are presented with pieces of paper to sort and stack.
Reviewed here is Awesome Notes that replaces your lists of notes into a more visual view of notes on a board inside of a file folder UI. MyDesk that moves your folders and notes onto your desktop… which while being a bit cramped on the small screen of a iPhone, is heading in the direction of a ‘desktop’ UI that we are more used to. MyDesk is just begging for a bigger screen device. And finally, My Desk All-In-One-Desk that is a desktop with all you would expect on it – clock, calendar, todo, music and even Twitter… but VERY limited in true functionality.
First up is the popular Awesome Note (with ToDo):
Notes and Todo items are placed in tabs which can be spread across multiple swipable screens. Tapping a folder tab opens is to view the notes within. The open notebook graphic takes you to an overview of all notes.
Notes are not trapped on the iPhone, they can be moved to Google Docs and Evernote so they can be shared.
Each note can have it’s own ‘paper’ style to help locate later – notes can contain images as well be set to Read Only to avoid accidental edits later. Notes can be text notes as well can be a ToDo item which can have an alarm and due date. The options to customize the look and feel of each note would take a chapter… just imagine walking into a stationary store and all the options you have there.
This is the view inside of a folder of notes when set to images, a ‘list’ view is also available. From this screen you can change the label, icon and password protection on the folder. Quick creation of new or default notes is a tap of a ‘+’.
MyDesk offers another Desktop Folder UI look and feel:
MyDesk takes the Desktop like UI a step further with the look of file folders and notes scattered about your desk. You can create folders and notes from the desktop, place them, set the look and size of each, drag notes onto/into folders and open folders to review notes inside.
The developer added a ‘desktop’ touch by having single and double taps on items cause them to be selected or edited/opened. This took a little getting used to but worked fine after a few times. The desk can get cluttered quickly so it is a great representation of the real world. Ha!
Viewing a note from either the desktop or inside of the folder offers the same quick access, view and editing.
Notes and Folders can be changed via selecting to Customize them. You can rename folders, change the color of ‘paper’ or folders, and change fonts (font changes are for the full page, not for a particular bit of text). Currently, this app is all about the world we live in with physical desktop tables of folders and papers. the developer has a list of near future enhancements which will free the notes from being locked to the app (only emailing is possible now).
To wrap up your ‘Desktop like UI’ is My Desk All-In-One-Desk that goes beyond notes and attempts to give to you everything you would actually have ‘on’ your desk. The tools are all there, but there is no real depth to the app yet. Making it a lot of fun to play with until the developers add more functionality then it can be a real starting point for your device. It reminds me of a light version of the Magic Cap OS in the Newton days. This app could work well with a few more features on the screen size of the iPhone and Touch and with those additions it would be the start up for most people if there was ever a larger screen iPhone OS device.
Tapping on the ToDo art on your desktop brings up your list of ToDo items. You can quickly add to the list via the usual ‘+’ button. As you can see, it is rather simple compared to most ToDo management apps. Tapping on the calendar gives you the spaces to put in your Google Calendar login so that the desktop calendar shows your Google Calendar items, not the iPhone Built-In Calendar. Tapping on the picture allows you to select a picture from your Photo Albums. The music player allows you to start and pause randomly chosen songs from the Built-In iTunes.
The below image is showing one of the features proving that there is huge possibilities with this app. You can have Twits from folks your following show up at the bottom of the desktop. After loading your Twitter login, choosing to show/hide the stream is a matter of tapping the Twitter Bird. All items on the desktop can be moved and twisted as you please with your finger.
Disclaimer: I am not endorsing nor associated with loris_sl on Twitter. Her post was streaming when I took the snap shot. That said, I follow her because she posts twits with great links and a lot of fun to follow.
From the ‘i’ on the Desktop, you get to choose which items show on the desktop, as well they type of finish you want as the background. The coffee cup changes faces and the ‘toy’ wakes up every now and then… neither doing much so I’m assuming they are place holders for something great in the future. Hint Hint…
To wrap up, these are all great applications that well help merge the physical world with the electronic world. Expect to see many more apps like these appearing in the near future. Screen sizes, access to built in data and creative minds understanding the way we work will help these become more integrated in our lives. There is a fine line when cute is fun but makes it harder to get to what a user needs to get to quickly… when asked for a name when your walking down the hall, you don’t have time to watch a cute bunny bounce about for a few seconds.