Today I found myself wanting to decorate my wall with posters and stuff and things, and I knew I wanted it to be 2001-related. In search of something on the web, I found almost nothing larger than 1600x1000px.
Luckily, I had bought a Collector’s Edition of said movie, and it included a nice, reproduced 70mm film cell. So I did as best as I could photographing it towards the sky, and this is the result.
I am no UI/UX expert, but in order to learn more, I figure I’d write down and share my thoughts about the newly released app Haze which happens to have received a lot of positive feedback. Please note that I will only address the aspects of the app that I found worthy of critique.
I am very fond of great sound design in apps, but I’m not sure Haze does it right. Letterpress and Clear has shown us how sound effects can compliment and enhance the experience and identity of an app. They provide another layer of fun on top of the already great UX, while at the same time puts the content and interaction first. I feel that the sound effects used in Haze are added as a pure gimmick. They do not complement the content in a way that the two previously mentioned apps do. They’re only adding a layer of unsubtle clutter, taking the focus away from the content. Perhaps because of the very high amount of echo applied? Perhaps because of the difference between the type of sounds used (drum, synth, piano etc.)?
The dynamic background is a great idea. I love these types of UI elements that provide subtle info, but I cannot help but notice how the whole screen is turning into a white dot if you swipe horizontally or press the info bubble too quickly. I don’t like a UI that you have to ‘be careful’ with. And when switching panes quickly by swiping horizontally, there is noticeable lag at times, even on my iPhone 5. This is also the case with the sound effects, you cannot click something quickly without getting multiple layers of echoing on top of each other.
I did not recognize this weird transition (image above) until I saw the promotional video. It’s apparently mimicking the way a drop hits water and then ricochets back up in the air. If it is to be used like this, I think it needs a tiny explanation. To make it even more confusing, the effect is also used upside down.
The effect on the ‘bullet point’ pane switching works a tad better, because it doesn’t resemble the drop that weirdly (if it’s even supposed to, and not to just add something goofy, like Mail for iOS).
Let’s say I haven’t swiped down to access the forecast of the upcoming days, and I want to get to the menu. Watch what happens:
I think this is way too complicated and cluttery.
Breaking the bouncy
Like many iOS apps, Haze tries to be fun. One way of doing this is adding bouncy, rubberband effects on nearly everything, and it usually works. One element in this app that breaks this behavior though, is the clickable bubble on each of the panes. I’ve created a few animations myself, so I know the importance of this wobbly feel. When you press the bubble, smaller bubbles come out of it, but they stop very abruptly in their motion, which looks very rigid compared to the rest of the app. Path does a much better job at this handcrafted animation.
Haze wants to present the user with a friendly and easy navigable menu. It’s at least easy to access, but is quite user hostile. As with the W8 Metro style/look/way of treating UI elements, you simply do not know what the buttons do until after they’ve been pressed once. Does this toggle a setting? Does this open a submenu? Does this redirect me to either Safari or App Store directly?
I was also overwhelmed by how many menu entries there were. But perhaps I’m wrong. They’re not many, it just appears this way, since all entries have the same size and visual importance. The icons complementing each menu entry are also quite inconsistent, creating more mess than they should. Oh, and I really do think that ‘Tilt Control’ should be removed immediately, and perhaps also ‘Share’? I have never encountered anyone in need of sharing the temperature from within the app. Haze also adds a link to the app website in the message, and I highly doubt anyone will send the message without removing it first. Unnecessary advertisement.
But the most interesting part about the menu is the fact that a random fact is placed underneath all of the entries. Clear does the same thing, only with a quote instead, but displays it when there are no other elements on the screen. The quotes make the app a tad more interesting and fun, but they’re only visible when the key information and purpose of the app is ‘gone’. In Haze, this sort of gimmick feels out of place.
This may all sound very harsh, but as I want to create the best possible UI’s, I think it’s valuable to study and critique the work of others. I haven’t noted any other parts of the UI (at least worth mentioning) that would need a refinement, although the information displayed in the bubbles was a little confusing at first, as I’m no weather geek.