- One of these things is not like the others.
Microsoft—amazingly as despite the odds—right now has the best smartphone operating system. The Metro UI design—apparently, named after the clean signage of this Metro—is really, genuinely, clever in how it approaches touch computing. In comparison, iOS looks like a warmed over copy of PalmOS (circa 1998; Palm IIIc, represent!). Android looks like a crappy, choppy copy of iOS.
- Yeah, Apple. I'm calling you out. MacOS is just a ripoff of PARC Alto, too.
Metro is how Tufte would approach touch computing: Clean, crisp, without chrome, with the information itself providing the beauty. Others have done a better job than I could do here, working through in painful detail the ideas behind the Windows Phone UI.
In short, the user interface makes extensive use of type you tap, tabs you interact with by swiping gestures. The UI impies the screen in your hand is a small subset of a larger plane you're navigating through with swipe gestures. It works. It's smooth. After a few days of using metro, it's unpleasant to go back to an iPhone.
(Yes, the OS lacks, for now, functionality found in other phones: Copy-paste and third-party applications running in the background, probably the most serious. I'd argue that these features can—and hopefully will—be added far more easily than crippling UI flaws can be corrected.)
So, kudos to the design teams at Microsoft for coming up with this. Touch computing—whether in tablets or smartphones—seems likely to be dominate the ways we will consume information in the near future. The Metro UI design does it the best.
I just hope this won't be a long, painful, process of watching the corporate-level decision-makers at Microsoft fuck up this opportunity.