Ed Page recently blogged about his idea to improve the Swipe UI. Fortunately for him, a bunch of people and I had the same idea inside Nokia :)
Update: apparently this is not present in the images distributed with the Nokia N950’s, it was introduced after 25-3.
If you open
~/.config/mcompositor/mcompsitor.conf, you’ll see a bunch of swipe-action-foo configs, all of them set to “away” (by default).
You can, however, change them to something like:
And voilà! Now depending on which direction you swipe, is the action that would happen. You need to kill mcompositor for them to become active (or send SIGTERM/SIGINT, I don’t remember which one).
This was possible because I got fed up arguing about the benefits of swiping down to close applications, and decided to implement the thing by myself. While doing that, I also decided to implement an idea that was flying around, which was to do something different depending on the direction of the swipe. It took me about two days to do, including making it configurable, mostly trying to familiarize myself with the code that was split into multiple packages, and wrapping myself around C++, which I have avoided as much as possible. That was much less time than the time spent discussing before and after I implemented the patches. Fortunately, after seeing the thing in action, many people jumped into the wagon, and at least swipe down to close is available to the masses, which people seem to like. Guerrilla design ;)
However, after a lot of though, I realized the configuration I mentioned above is ideal. And this is my rationale:
The current design is inconsistent; when you swipe away, you never know in which desktop view you are going to end up, specially if you just unlocked the device. You might end up in ‘switcher’, or ‘launcher’, or ‘events’. Same action, different behaviour equals inconsistency.
There’s a simple solution; utilize the simple mental model required to navigate the desktop views.
In this way, it’s easy to know exactly what would happen when swiping on each direction, decreasing the amount of actions needed from the user. The same action always produces the same behavior.
It is unclear if this mode is ever going to be officially supported on the device, despite the fact that I think it’s obviously superior (and Ed Page seems to agree, as he came with the exact same idea by himself), maybe some people are worried about updating manuals and what not, but at least it’s trivial to activate, and anybody can create a 3rd party app for that ;)
BTW. This is yet another reason why I distrust people telling me I’m a “geek”, and “designers” know better when it comes to design. In the words of Elaine Morgan; yes, they can all be wrong, history is strung with occasions when they all got it wrong.