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416 points by jarenstein 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 134 comments



UI experiments like this show that what a lot of pro users want for iOS on the iPad is for it to become a Mac.

Maybe a Mac with a touch UI mode and a more modern architecture, that is cleaner and has a more restrictive security model - but still a Mac.

They'll say they don't for purity reasons, but their desires show otherwise:

- Add ways to show multiple apps on screen at once (e.g. windows – but because they don't overlap, oh except for slide-over items, then it's new and therefore they don't have to admit they are asking for windows)

- Add a hardware keyboard

- Make the hardware case with keyboard into a laptop form factor

- Add a touchpad

- Add a way to drag and drop items between on screen apps

- Add keyboard shortcuts

- Add the Finder, oh sorry, I mean Files.app

- Add a menu bar for Pro apps

- Next they'll ask for a menu item to appear onscreen when an item is force touched; e.g. right click contextual menus

Congratulations, you've invented a MacBook. At least you'll feel good about yourself as you can now think you're using "the future of computing" instead of simply an evolved version of what everyone was using a decade ago.

This is a pessimistic but IMO true evaluation of how techies who are proud of themselves for using an iPad for 'real computing' self evaluate the decision.


>Congratulations, you've invented a MacBook. At least you'll feel good about yourself as you can now think you're using "the future of computing" instead of simply an evolved version of what everyone was using a decade ago.

You miss the big picture. Creating "an evolved version of what everyone was using a decade ago" is the very idea, and that's precisely why they are entitled to feel good about themselves.

They could make the iPad run full OS X with Finder and overlapping windows and everything and call it a day, all in a month or so (most of the time taken for things like driver support).

But they don't want to "invent a MacBook".

They want to get the iPad to be personal-computer-like powerful, without the negatives of the full PC experience.

(Negatives for the masses, not for people who use Vim and Emacs and take pride in menial tasks like "organizing their file hierarchy").

For which, this iterative approach and enforced boundaries is exactly what's needed.

E.g. they want to add a hardware keyboard, but make it entirely optional. So things should be touch-first-class (and not "also touch" like with Surface and co).

They want multiple apps on screen but not the tedium of window management. For which the split screen (or eventually a tiled wm) makes more sense.

And so on.


I cannot conceive of any future where the eventual upshot of all of this isn't...a Surface Pro.

The thing is, there is nowhere left for Apple to go. What else can they do with iOS? They will be forced to make iOS more powerful and that MUST include things like proper file management, multiple windows, displays, mouse support etc...aka a Surface Pro. Perhaps a more pleasing-to-look-at iteration than Windows 10, and better quality native apps, but a Surface Pro nevertheless.


The Surface Pro has never been designed from the ground up with touch as the primary interaction method.

It's always been a laptop with some touch interaction bolted on.

Therein lies the difference.

Apple has chosen to surface more complexity (designing a version of drag and drop for touch), but they haven't stopped making touch the primary interaction method.

Nor should they.


Microsoft tried to make touch a priority with Windows 8 and it was a complete failure. The Surface is great, as a laptop, but not very useful without a keyboard.


>I cannot conceive of any future where the eventual upshot of all of this isn't...a Surface Pro.

Well, Ford's customers couldn't conceive of a future where the eventual upshot wouldn't be ...faster horses either.

>The thing is, there is nowhere left for Apple to go

Because we have exhausted UI paradigms and interaction design?

>and that MUST include things like proper file management, multiple windows, displays, mouse support etc...aka a Surface Pro.

The "aka a Surface Pro" is where you're wrong though.

All of what you ask for can be answered by "just buy a Mac laptop" today. There's absolutely no reason for anyone to want an iPad that does all that -- except to get a laptop with touchscreen hybrid. But those are not exactly some wide success in the PC world either.

The iPad serves a need without desktop-features. And it sells 10s of millions of units (10x or more than the Surface) every year without these features. The ability to get a desktop OS-X experience is not why iPads are bought.

Here's how it can play out:

E.g.:

- "Proper file management" can be abstracted totally from storage as far as the apps are concerned, like iOS already does, and have powerful metadata properties and searchability (the way Microsoft tried and failed with their WinFS project). So not like Surface of today, or regular Finder-like file management.

- Multiple windows can be non-overlapping, and develop into a tiling/snapping mechanism. OSes have already disfavored the once dominant MDI windows (and even third party apps have, e.g. Photoshop of yore with Photoshop of today). This can be a next step.

- displays, the iPad Pro already supports external displays.

- mouse support, this can or cannot be added, but if the table factor has to have any meaning it has to be secondary to the touch experience (so apps should be prepared to work in 100% touch mode).

More importantly, the main premise of the iPad is the hassle free device management. Apps are all sandboxed, the OS is dead simple to configure, zero viruses, everything backed to the cloud, etc. Those are the avenues that will be enhanced and expanded, not how to run IDEs.

It's not 'full customizability and power to run any niche pro app', it's 'it just works'. Pro apps will came (and in several sectors have come), but only by respecting the "it just works" part.


> Well, Ford's customers couldn't conceive of a future where the eventual upshot wouldn't be ...faster horses either.

I don't agree that these are valid comparisons. An iPad is a computer. It has a CPU, and a screen, and an OS, and is therefore rather similar to a PC, barring UI lipstick. A car and a horse are way different. If you are suggesting that there may be a next-big-thing invented that supplants PCs AND iPads entirely (neural interface thingy), then maybe we are in agreement. An iPad is most definitely NOT to a PC what the automobile was to the horse buggy.

> Because we have exhausted UI paradigms and interaction design?

You wouldn't agree with this? In the context of computers (once again, neural stuff/VR notwithstanding) I have yet to see an interface to a computer faster than the keyboard and mouse. And I think 'faster' is a good metric for 'better'. Touch, in that regard, is woefully off the mark. Clicking a menu item, or even better, knowing the keyboard shortcut, is the most superior method of getting shit done.

Touch is fine for convenience, but convenience is a rather limiting goal. If the goal is to extract every last ounce of usefulness out of our devices (paired with a desire to own as few devices as posible), a mere touchscreen isn't enough.


I think you guys are arguing on whether a spoon is superior to a fork. They are both made of metal and are used to eat, but they serve different purposes and require different modes of operation. Give a fork to somebody who only eats soup, and he’ll curse you; give a spoon to a steak lover, and he’ll respond in the same way.

It took a bit to click for me, but I understand now that the mobile/touch approach serves a segment of the population with different approaches to computational needs. It doesn’t mean it’s a superior approach, even if it sold more devices; it’s just another approach. You can argue that it isn’t the case until you’re blue in the face, because “underneath it’s all the same”, but it’s the reality. It’s like saying a Ferrari and a Fiat 500 both have engines and gearbox, so they serve the same transportation needs and you can determine an objectively superior car - it’s false and you can’t. Doing the weekly grocery shopping with a Ferrari is as hellish as trying to race with a 500.

Computational devices will become more different in shape and uses, not less. Convergence is a production-driven myth that will never fully materialize. We never really reached convergence even when the operational modes were just two (desktop and server), it certainly won’t happen now that you can put computers in glasses and watches.


And for Apple, it just so happens that the market segment that likes touch-driven UI as their primary interface is as large or larger than those who like keyboard/mouse. Making mobile devices the computer for the masses widens the divide between users and developers.


Excellent comparison, and no arguments from me. My central interest, however, is in owning the least number of things that need to be charged. In that context, I cannot justify having an iPad over my Surface.


> Clicking a menu item, or even better, knowing the keyboard shortcut, is the most superior method of getting shit done

That is certainly true on general purpose computers (those running a standard Windows, macOS or Desktop Linux distro).

But most special purpose computers do not have a keyboard and a mouse. For example:

- a hospital sonography station has a screen, a lot of quick access function keys, a trackball for moving a crosshair, lots of sliders for adjusting things, etc.

- a cashier desk has a barcode scanner with a trigger and a num pad for manually entering codes

- a musician might use a (musical) keyboard, and a mixing board with lots of knobs and sliders

There are a lot of input devices that are a lot better for special purposes like a mouse and keyboard.

The magic of touch is that you can simulate specialized user interfaces for a lot of things. Just look at those DJ apps for the iPad! They have a pretty sweet interface that would be really hard to implement with mouse and keyboard.

So I don't think that mouse/keyboard is the ultimate input device combo. I haven't seen anything better for programming yet, but who knows, maybe some day someone comes up with an idea that works better than traditional windows + menus + buttons.


I think calling a sonography station a 'personal computer' is a bit of a reach. The discussion here, at least from my end, is firmly whether the iPad is enough of a computer to justify owning it to the exclusion of other computers.


>I don't agree that these are valid comparisons. An iPad is a computer. It has a CPU, and a screen, and an OS, and is therefore rather similar to a PC, barring UI lipstick.

That would entail that anything with "a CPU, and a screen, and an OS" should offer the exact same experience as a desktop/laptop computer.

(Not to mention that ATM machines, kiosks, and cars also have one or more cpus, screens, and OSes).

The whole idea of the iPad as Apple (and I) see it, is that something with a "CPU, an OS, and a screen" can have widely different interaction design, and that the "PC" experience is far from the optimal for all uses. For those other users, the iPad experience (or some other) can be greater.

And those that really need a PC, can always just ...get a PC!

(That's also how the smartphone, which also has a CPU, a screen, and an OS) surpassed the PC in time spent/internet use) with a different interaction design.

>You wouldn't agree with this? In the context of computers (once again, neural stuff/VR notwithstanding) I have yet to see an interface to a computer faster than the keyboard and mouse.

Faster at what?

When using visual apps like Procreate or Photoshop for example, I find that touch is faster than "keyboard and mouse".

For reading (Kindle, iBooks, etc) touch is faster than keyboard and mouse.

For certain music apps, touch is faster than keyboard and mouse (most of the work is manipulating filter and automation envelopes and rectangles on a grid).

The main things keyboards are faster are writing and programming.


> I have yet to see an interface to a computer faster than the keyboard and mouse.

Easy counter example: "I have yet to see an interface to a computer faster than a touch interface while working as warehouse manager who's constantly on-the-go."

See how you're pigeonholing the whole concept of what a computer is or should be?


You misunderstand me. I LOVE touchscreens. I will never buy a laptop without one. But I think a full OS is so much more useful than JUST a gimped mobile OS. Hence my preference for the Surface over the iPad.


> There's absolutely no reason for anyone to want an iPad that does all that -- except to get a laptop with touchscreen hybrid. But those are not exactly some wide success in the PC world either.

I solely blame this on the software.

Wanna mimic pen-and-paper? There's a few apps for that.

Wanna use something that's actually better than pen-and-paper? There's OneNote, which gives you a finite but big enough canvas. You can fit everything on one "page", zoom in and out to a certain level, use different pens, and draw some basic shapes like straight lines, ellipses, and rectangles which are more than useful (think: diagrams or sketching out layouts).

That's it. There's absolutely no alternative to it. Not on Windows and certainly not on Ubuntu. I've tried dozens of them, and OneNote is the only one that offers even remotely more functionality than pen-and-paper does. The rest just try to mimic the pen-and-paper feeling on a screen. Microsoft Whiteboard got 90% there, but it doesn't offer a way of easily drawing basic shapes.

If I knew that the software side would be this bad a year after I bought the device, I would think twice before getting a pen-supported two-in-one and got myself an iPad. Touchscreen itself is insanely useful for recreation, but the pen is next-to-useless with just one app even worth mentioning.


> Well, Ford's customers couldn't conceive of a future where the eventual upshot wouldn't be ...faster horses either.

That's such BS. Maybe Ford said that. That doesn't mean its true, and that doesn't mean it applies here.

Moreover, trying to compare the revolution of the automobile to something as trite as a touch-friendly interface is laughable. The iPad isn't a revolution. It didn't do anything which Android tablets didn't already do before it came out. It just did everything better, and that's the reason its achieved what marginal success it has.


> They will be forced to make iOS more powerful and that MUST include things like proper file management, multiple windows, displays, mouse support etc...aka a Surface Pro.

Apple has been working to get iOS apps running on macOS with marzipan. So I’d guess they’ll just use macOS for the iPad.


To me Marzipan feels more like they want to give pro app developers less excuses to not make iPad versions of their apps.

iPad has way more need for pro apps than OSX does for iPad apps.


What if Marzipan was never about pro apps, or convergence of operating systems, or any of that? I think the Apple community is overthinking it because everyone is focussing on whether iPads are the workstations of tomorrow.

Right now many small "utility" apps for iOS don't have a macOS version. With Marzipan they might add one, which will make it easier to sell Macs to iPhone users. "See! Your Twitter apps and To Do lists are right there waiting for you!" It just needs to be good enough to work as a gateway drug.


Does a Surface Pro handle sleep/hibernate properly? The biggest factor that still makes me prefer MacOS to Windows is the fact I can just shut the damn lid and come back a day latter to find my battery is intact and I haven't fried any components.

(And on the other side - I'd love a Macbook with a proper GPU for a reasonable price. Like about $3000 for something with a 1080 in please.)


It took a long time for the bugs to get worked out, but I have not had any sleep/wake issues on my Surface Pro 4 in awhile now. At least since the 1809 update.


Of course! Why would you think it wouldn't? Installing Linux on the Surface Pro is a different matter, and then Suspend just does not work. But with Windows it works pretty well.


>Of course! Why would you think it wouldn't?

Considering that the other comment directly above you says:

"It took a long time for the bugs to get worked out, but I have not had any sleep/wake issues on my Surface Pro 4 in awhile now. At least since the 1809 update."

There are many reasons to think it wouldn't.


> Why would you think it wouldn't?

Well - My newish Windows 10 laptop fails at this basic task.


I was pretty disappointed that all mouse/keyboard desktop UIs stopped evolving in the early 2000s--especially as they all transitioned to hardware-accelerated desktops. I stuck with macOS because the laptop hardware was a lot more solid, I like Unix terminal, sleep/wake and battery life was way better, and a few other more minor things, but as for basic productivity of the UI; all three platforms are basically the same.

I think there's still a lot of potential in alternative desktop interfaces, but that ship has sailed long ago. Tiling window managers have found a niche. I really like the idea of the Hotbox from Maya (3d software), but the only other place I've seen it used is Autodesk's Sketchbook.

I'm very glad Apple is trying to come up with something else, even if they settle back on traditional desktop interactions. However, I think they're too big and entrenched to be too adventurous.


The Surface Pro is a pretty nice device. I came close to shifting from a Mac to one as my on-the-go device; if not for endless hassles getting its stylus to work smoothly with Adobe Illustrator (my main art tool) I would have. If Apple came out with something in that form factor I’d be all over it.

Would that be so bad?


You’re kind of both lionizing and straw manning the same persona, just from different generations. Pretty odd


I feel that what Apple is doing with the iPad is trying to create a whole new separate paradigm of computing with glass slabs, without re-using the good ideas from the Mac. Whether it's pride or something else, they simply can't make themselves do a dual-use operating system (e.g. support for overlapping windows, mouse, file management - while still having good support for touch), so they are forced to come up with totally new ways of interacting with devices. While that's pretty interesting and totally fine, there is also a reason why modern MacBooks (and computers in general) are the way they are, so all the solutions are second-rate, and it's why professional users will always feel limited when using the iPad for things that are not just watching YouTube videos.


>I feel that what Apple is doing with the iPad is trying to create a whole new separate paradigm of computing with glass slabs, without re-using the good ideas from the Mac.

Without bringing the baggage associated with traditional desktop computing.

They reuse "good ideas from the Mac" all the time. They don't want to reuse all, else it would just be the Mac UI, and that's (a) not the best UI option for a tablet, (b) still carries complication they don't want the tablet to have.

The idea is a "form fitting" OS paradigm that can scale to pro eventually, but without the legaly hassle of an OS if it can be avoided (e.g. window management).

The same way installation of apps is just "select+install", everything is sandboxed, uninstallation is just "delete", etc.


“Professional users” encompasses more than just programming.

iPads are already great for professional musicians and artists. Also things like reading PDFs and sending emails, which probably make up a large portion of professional work.


Someone has to program the apps for these “future devices”. It’s very weird to me how the future of computing is a terrible interactive interface for the very people who have to make the future interactive interface. They’ll be forced to release an iPad that is the “future” and a Mac someone can actually program on.


I would love a MacBook with touch, and even better a MacBook that transforms into an iPad.


There are plenty of PC's with touchscreens and loosely MacBook-like design aesthetics. Some of them can even fold over and let you use them very much like a tablet (with the keyboard out of the way). (Unfortunately, OS support for such "hybrid" devices is lacking. But I think Linux will get there shortly - you can already tell that GTK3 was built for touch use, not just for the mouse.)


I don't agree that touch is lacking. I use a Samsung Galaxy Book Win10 device which has a detachable keyboard and touch screen and I think it is great. Granted, it is far heavier than a tablet, but when I need a terminal or console to get some scripting or programming done it is ready as I don't have to use an on screen keyboard to get the pipe or carat keys. By removing the keyboard the tablet has an acceptable weight. Plus it naively supports and comes with the S Pen for on screen drawing. The touch and drawing capabilities in W10 are fluid and always accurate for me. I enjoy having a desktop OS which brings computing without caveats in such a portable format. Kudos to Microsoft for continuously advancing Windows.


> I don't agree that touch is lacking.

"You don't agree", but people are saying as much in this thread. See the top comments about how the Surface touch experience sucks in comparison with the iPad (and this somehow proves that a "touch-first" device is inherently superior).

There is no technical reason for this; the reason why touch interaction sucks on both Win 10 and current Linux desktop (yes, including GNOME 3) is that we've only just begun caring about it, as hybrid devices have come out (and, to take a slightly different angle, people have started caring more about having a real Linux desktop on mobile, largely touch-driven devices-- see the postmarketOS effort).

I'm confident that Linux desktops will be able to reach feature parity with the touch UX of both AOSP and ChromiumOS with relative ease and in a short period of time (provided that GPU acceleration works properly, of course - the aforementioned OS's do rely on it). And iOS is not far beyond that.


What is lacking? I use it constantly and don't find it lacking.


A Surface that runs macOS.


Not really. Have you seen a Surface? They’re fucking enormous.

Say what you like about the new iPad, it’s amazingly thin.


The Surface Go is not "f'in enormous". It's as small as a vintage netbook, or an iPad (not "Pro") with an added keyboard.


There’s something weird going on in this discussion. There are commenters discussing where they imagine iOS devices headed and other users who are discussing iPad vs Surface. The later is bringing in the OS war discussion.


The surface book 2 is one of the lightest laptops available.


It seems like this blog post introduces a new menu feature in a pending release of Codea, an iOS app for programming that has been used to create other apps that sold millions of copies.

It’s exciting to see Codea trying to figure out how to bring app creation to iOS because Xcode is the last Mac-only app preventing me from an iPad only life. I agree that it’s a mistake to create iPad apps bound by the constraints of legacy technology (terminal windows, keyboards, typed code). However, the Codea editor has rethought many aspects of a PC editor for a touch interface. Some of them instantly make sense (like contextual color pickers or sliders for values), and some of them can still be improved.


> Some of them instantly make sense (like contextual color pickers or sliders for values), and some of them can still be improved.

Swift Playgrounds has something similar.


Codea has been available on iOS for 6 years & I recall they introduced the feature first, so I’m wondering if Swift Playgrounds got the idea from Codea


I think a lot of the Swift Playgrounds ideas are “officially” acknowledged to have been inspired by that Bret victor “Inventing on Principle” talk.


> UI experiments like this show that what a lot of pro users want for iOS on the iPad is for it to become a Mac.

So wrong! Down is up! Freedom is slavery!

UI experiments like this show that -developers who make UI experiments like this- want it to become a Mac.

And for God's sake let's not look to engineers' desires for UX cues.

Engineers are so hellaciously picky about their setups -- imagine bridging the gap between Swift Playgrounds and customizing zsh -- that asking for nothing less than a full laptop is foregone conclusion.

If we look at other "pro" users, however -- particularly in music and graphic design, you find -users- (here, we're not confusing users with developers making experiments) using these mobile devices for their virtues and not despite them. They're mobile slate notepads, ultra-reliable performance surfaces, or rich instant cameras.

Plenty of shops have tried to create super-pro apps in this space. They've got rich and powerful interfaces that push well beyond typical UIKit. They're beautiful, expensive and unpopular (Audulus 3, Moog Model 15, Korg Gadget)

The OP shop is going down this road, sadly. Try their shader editor -- it's beautifully done. And assuming the bugs get ironed out it will be celebrated as a beautiful and capable shader node editor for your phone...and then laid aside.


I think there's a certain economistic mindset that has a hard time dealing with how a more restricted interface can actually be more inspiring and productive. If all the measurable quantities are smaller, how could it possibly be better?


1) You can have multiple apps at once.

2) You can have a hardware keyboard which makes it into a laptop form factor.

3) You can drag/drop between screen apps.

4) You have keyboard shortcuts.

So many of those wishlist items already exist.


I think you could come up with a list of features and line them up and say that the iPad is basically reinventing the Mac.

And it is, to some extent. I don't think that's a bad thing to happen right now.

All I can say with absolute certainty is that it feels different to work and code on my iPad and iPhone than it does on my Mac.

You outline very specific features that have since come (or will come) to iPad. But there are many less tangible "features" that really influence how it feels to use these computing devices.

For example, I edit all my photos on my phone. I never thought I'd do that a decade ago, but I do. The screen is better there. The photos are already there. The editing tools are great. The phone is faster. They get shared easier from there. There's now an entirely different emotional context around editing photos.

Another example is that it's far easier to turn on my phone or iPad. Opening my laptop is a heavy operation, often I'm sitting at my desk. It's work time. But just two days ago I was at the playground with my kids, I had some time to myself so I edited the very blog post we're commenting on, on my phone. I even edited some of the videos there.

That's another one that I just keep doing on the phone. Editing videos. I keep using Apple's Clips app instead of Final Cut Pro because it's just so instant, and fun, and light-weight. And no one notices or cares about what the resulting video was made in if it's good.

So by using git, and Codea, and building shaders on these devices we start to find out how we can differently fit more creative tasks into our lives. The Mac may never be replaced. But I might find that prototyping a game idea happens more often on my iPad or iPhone, simply because it's there when my laptop is not there.

If that means we end up reinventing some of the Mac UI paradigms for iOS, so what? The physical devices themselves are so much more pervasive and instant that they are creating new use cases just because of how we hold them and feel about holding them.


Then to accommodate all users, the perfect lineup sounds like:

* iPhone - iOS (touch only)

* iPad - iOS (touch only)

* iPad Pro - iOS "Plus" (iPad + attachable keyboard/trackpad)

* MacBook - iOS "Plus" (iPad + built-in keyboard/trackpad)

* MacBook Pro - macOS

* iMac - macOS

* Mac Pro - macOS


I can see the iOS iteration of the MacBook be called the iBook.


Hm, it's almost like the iPad and iOS aren't suitable environments to get real work done unless you're an artist.


There's no touchpad, and the iPad is still very different from the Mac in ways that are more significant than your list of details.

For example, yes, there's a finder, but the places where you put files are 100% abstract, can be a hard drive, can be a SFTP, can be a cloud service that when offline, saves to the local storage and then uploads, can be a lazy extracting zip file, etc.

The most significant way that iOS differs from macOS (or Windows 10 or whatever) is that in iOS every action is accounted for and proper permission is enforced.


> There's no touchpad

Yet... with many of the Apple technorati asking for one and saying it's a necessary next step.

> in iOS every action is accounted for and proper permission is enforced

Yes, so this is the Mac with a more restrictive security model as referenced in the first comment. Apple is moving the macOS towards this with the Sandbox and how app extensions are structured.


> Yes, so this is the Mac with a more restrictive security model

Maybe this is exactly why people want the changes to the iPad. They want a more powerful iPad rather than a less powerful Mac.


> Yet... with many of the Apple technorati asking for one and saying it's a necessary next step.

No, what I see, is people that are always coming with excuses to not buy an iPad.

"Because it can only run one application at once" -> Apple implements that feature -> "it needs a real file manager" -> Apple implements that feature, and they will come up with more excuses of "why the iPad isn't a MacBook Air".


>Yet... with many of the Apple technorati asking for one and saying it's a necessary next step.

Never read any "Apple technorati", much alone "many", asking for one.


All the iPad reviews on youtube, Marques, Dave2D, the Verge...they were all crying out for a chance to fully exploit the blindingly fast A12 chip with software to match. Specifically multiple displays and mouse support.


And all the examples you cited are NOT Apple technoratti.

In fact, those three (Marques, Dave2D and The Verge) are profoundly anti-Apple.

Just because they show them using MacBooks and iMacs in the background, doesn't mean anything.


So, no touchpad mentioned.


Ah, sorry, did you mean a Macbook with touch capabilities? In which case Linus has shouted himself hoarse begging for MacOS to adopt touchscreens. And I agree with him.

I own a Surface. Having a touchscreen is one of those things that, for some at least, becomes a must have. For me it helps it walk the line between productivity machine and Youtube-while-cooking-dinner tablet.


Linus (for other readers: not Torvalds) is a random YouTuber, not an "Apple technoratti", which was the original claim -- that would be someone like Gruber, Jason Snell, the guys at The Loop, 9to5 Mac, Apple Insider, and so on).

Original claim: "There's no touchpad Yet... with many of the Apple technorati asking for one and saying it's a necessary next step"

Have actual "apple technoratti" asked for a touchpad? I never read one do so.

Have they asked for touchscreens? Some did, some are against.

In any case, I don't exactly see the reasoning.

iPad is criticized because it doesn't have mouse support, and the Mac is criticized because it doesn't have touch support. As if a hybrid model wont have all the problems the Surface has -- (touch not that useful when using a keyboard, and mouse-based apps not that useful with touch) --and presumably the kind of lackluster sales the Surface has compared to the iPad.


I don't know who those people are, so I googled. It does look like Gruber proposed a track pad:

https://daringfireball.net/2017/05/ipad_trackpad


Nice find, hadn't seen that.

Note that while he does propose one, he does it contrary to the spirit discussed here (of getting desktop OS X parity), even adding: "Even if users expect a mouse cursor when they first see the trackpad, they’ll adjust quickly when they realize it isn’t there. If they wanted a MacBook they’d be using a MacBook. By definition anyone using an iPad is not expecting it to act like a Mac."


> There's no touchpad

3D touch (or two-finger touch on non-3D touch devices) on the keyboard turns it into a trackpad of sorts, allowing you to move the cursor freely around the focused input.


Is it a touchpad? No.


>can be a hard drive, can be a SFTP, can be a cloud service that when offline, saves to the local storage and then uploads, can be a lazy extracting zip file, etc.

Just like you might have using various fuse filesystems on a laptop


Or, possibly more accurately, GVFS/KIO


FUSE is not standard in desktops. And you can't get custom UI.


I mean, you’re not wrong.

But phone-sized, pocket-sized touch screen devices are a unique user interface to have to deal with.

Sub 6 inch 16:9 aspect ratio, hand held, high resolution viewports have specific requirements, and they are intrinsic to the form factor. They can’t be modified away by additions to the chasis, or tweaks to the GUI.

What really happens is a slow creep of size right on back up to the laptop form factor, and all the gaps in between. It started with phablets and plus-sized iPhones. But the Tablet itself was a laughable “innovation”. The iPad was just the iPhone, but bigger. And for what? Mostly just to watch movies in bed. Not much else going on there.

Meanwhile pocket-sized items remain an established niche. Standing around, out and about, everyone is staring at their phones. No one is carrying a keyboard. No one seriously snaps it into a clamshell frame with a keyboard. A pocket sized item is a slab of glass and nothing else. All the rest has to be handled in the UI.


This is what happens when you abdicate leadership in your own platform. The only reason it seems like people want to replicate their mac is because they’re actually excited about the potential of the iPad and would like to move to the iPad fully as there’s nothing necessarily preventing that short of the workflows existing. But if in the 8 years since the release of the iPad you do almost nothing to accommodate these users (and you need look no further than the absurd behavior of receiving a phone call taking over your ENTIRE screen even if you are mid-drawing in the best made for iPad art tool), then people will start coming up with their own solutions, which often just look like mimicking the past. If Apple were to focus on the iPad instead of the watch and car and what-have-you, they could have had the bandwidth to show us alternative solutions.


I reread a few times but can’t get the gist of what you want to express.

What does “become a mac” mean ? At this point the most defining trait of a mac is to have no touch input, so the iPad becoming a mac makes no sense to me.

Otherwise what you are describing is growing a platform and adding features. Cherry picking stuff that were on the mac before doesn’t really mean much when there’s many other features that have no relation to the mac (face id, ARKit, pencil support, shortcuts, MLKit etc.) while the mac also gets iOS features.

It seems you are mostly saying that the iPad has matured ?


> UI experiments like this show that what a lot of pro users want for iOS on the iPad is for it to become a Mac.

I have a hard time understanding this. Why make the iPad into a Mac? If that's what you want, then get a Mac.

My gripe with the iPad is that on larger screens, the somewhat sparse grid of app icons seems a little silly. They could at least increase the density.

I hope they don't change the character of the iPad because right now it's my favorite computer to use.


> Add ways to show multiple apps on screen at once (e.g. windows – but because they don't overlap, oh except for slide-over items

So, like i3wm. Makes sense on a small screen, I guess (the iPad mini is 8 in., even the iPad "Pro" is no larger than 13 in.)


Almost all of those already exist on an ipad, but it's not a macbook.

I can't tell if you're saying an ipad is a macbook or if you genuinely don't know that all but 1 or 2 of those features exist.


I'm still waiting for the OS that will have the courage to truly innovate.

I had high hopes for webOS and Windows Phone, but they're both dead. I'm now waiting for Fuchsia.

I expect to be disappointed. Maybe I'll need to show them?


> I had high hopes for webOS and Windows Phone, but they're both dead. I'm now waiting for Fuchsia.

But Fuschia is a kernel and as far as I can tell, Google’s in-place Linux-replacement for Android so that they can finally “escape” the GPL and do a full lockdown.

Fuschia won’t bring you any interesting new, user-facing features.


There was a UI for Fuchsia called Armadillo, but they got rid of it. It looks like they're working on 3 new UIs:

https://9to5google.com/2018/12/26/fuchsia-armadillo-ui-gone/


> I knew what I wanted from the beginning: a rounded, translucent menu with a drop shadow.

Minor nit, but I hate this effect because it's not how lighting works. As the author discovers when it's implemented: "But what if your view casts a drop shadow? Yeah, you get a nice blurred shadow. Gross."

There's no such thing as any physical material which lets light through... and magically casts a shadow surrounding it but not behind it. It's uncanny-valley wrongness.

The way translucency is handled in macOS is bizarre. For example, the Finder side panel lets a small amount of your desktop image through... even when there's another window in the way. Which makes zero sense physically and hurts my brain.

I don't mind translucency if it's not overused... but I mind it when it doesn't obey physics. You can't unsee it.


Imagine sunshine from an oblique angle on matte glass. The matte surface defuses the light, making the translucent object brighter than the background.


Yes, that's exactly what the original article called "gross" because it's casting a shadow behind, as real physics would do (because the translucent object is brighter and reflecting light back).

The author wants to have a shadow around the edges but somehow not a shadow behind the object itself, which is what doesn't make sense.


I like that sort of thing because otherwise I never see my background image. Being able to see what’s behind a window through correct transparency does have usability features, though.


Hey everyone. I wrote this menu system for my app Codea (and upcoming shader editor, Shade).

The traffic from here has killed my site, so I've posted some tweets showing it in action and am happy to talk about how it works / what purpose it serves.

I'll post the details and media in this twitter thread if anyone is interested https://twitter.com/twolivesleft/status/1081485321588531201


Really nice work, and thank you for sharing! The attention to detail especially in Part II is inspiring!

I absolutely loved the tint change based on the view behind. That's the kind of extra care that makes a UI subtly feel completely natural and pleasant to use, even if it never consciously registers. (In fact, not consciously registering is probably part of the magic.)


Great work on Codea! I think you’re pushing the boundaries on making an iPad a standalone professional tool.

Any chance Codea support for other programming languages is on the horizon?

What do you think about graphical languages like Blockly, Blueprints, Workflow, and WebGME?

- Blockly: https://developers.google.com/blockly/

- Blueprints: https://docs.unrealengine.com/en-us/Engine/Blueprints

- Workflow: https://www.workflow.is/

- WebGME: https://webgme.org/


Thank you!

I've been working on a new app called Shade that's a visual shader editor. It's really made me fall in love with the node graph representation of logic.

https://twitter.com/johntwolives/status/1081513719694159873/...

I enjoy using Workflow (now Shortcuts). And I'm continuously impressed with Blueprints.

I think there's still something emotionally different about writing code. Like it hooks in to the part of your brain that deals with language in a way that visual tools don't.

I don't think that makes it better, but it makes it feels different.

Whatever visual systems we experiment with, I hope to keep thinking about writing and the feeling of writing when we build tools to solve logical problems.


Edit menus in iOS feel clunky, especially with overflow options, but the contextual relevance feels right. Did you experiment with improving on the Edit menus on your way to choosing a custom solution?

Edit menus: https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guideline...


Yeah the overflow really kills them. But they are really well known by iOS users so it's a big step to not have them in a text editor.

I haven't tried writing a replacement, but these new menus came more from a need for non-contextual features. Access to code tabs, dependencies, documentation, and assets being the main ones.

The contextual features in the code editor were often handled by the keyboard accessory in Codea (the bar that sits above the on-screen keyboard, or at the bottom of the screen if a hardware keyboard is attached).

The new "Edit" menu also gave me an opportunity to make contextual features (comment selection, indent code, etc) more explicit and less hidden.


Apologies I had the wrong link in my clipboard, the actual twitter thread is here: https://twitter.com/twolivesleft/status/1081485806936543233


Get a CDN from Cloudflare, takes 5min + 5min distribution and makes many people happy.


Thank you for the advice, doing it now


Nice and looking fwd!



> The result is a beautiful menu bar on an iPhone app […]

Is that really what it looks like? The first screenshot that follows is genuinely the ugliest UI screenshot that I have seen in months (and the two that follow are only slightly better). It is just so messy.


That's harsh, I spent quite a bit of time on the appearance and the feel of the UI. But I can get that it's not for everyone.

Edit: perhaps if you see it in context you might judge it differently?

Here's the menu being used in the new version of Codea

https://twitter.com/twolivesleft/status/1074989429817626625

Here is the menu being displayed in our two apps, Shade and Codea (though it's not being used much in this video)

https://twitter.com/twolivesleft/status/1078541508742045696

And a few more in-context uses of this menu

https://twitter.com/twolivesleft/status/1047882889046589441

https://twitter.com/twolivesleft/status/1040965832036167680

https://twitter.com/twolivesleft/status/1040898996623990784


First of all, fantastic work. Developers as passionate, brave and talented as you are the ones who move this whole platform forward and eventually change paradigms.

The other guy was unnecessarily harsh and offered zero constructive criticism, so I'm left wondering what is it that he could have disliked so much. I think if there's one thing that might strike as a bit jarring on those iPhone screenshots it would be the light green tint. Why not gray or white? Menus are at a lower hierarchy than the actual content and the use of color makes them stand out too much based on everyone's years of experience with them


That's a good point. I use the tint because then the menu buttons match the rest of the buttons. Each app (Shade, Codea) has a variation of that green tint that goes all the way from the app icon to the web site (Codea.io).

I might experiment with what a completely neutral editor looks like.


I like the way it looks. The thing with design is that there will usually be someone who thinks it's ugly.

And I think that's okay. Everyone's aesthetic sense is a bit different. Nobody's going to like everything you do.

I do think that the ordinal poster's criticism could have been delivered less rudely, though.


It looks much better there, and I think there are three factors for that: one, that it is interactive rather than a static screenshot; two, that those examples are on larger screens where the menu is not taking up a substantial fraction of the screen, and so the curved two-box outline is taking up less of the screen; and three, the colours: the screenshot I remarked on (and on which I stand firm in my judgement) is light-themed, with a strange tint that doesn’t feel right, and which is rendered far worse by the extra smudgy colour coming through from the text selection underneath. I think I would find that same screenshot in a dark theme quite acceptable, though probably still a tad odd due to the shapes involved.


Counterpoint, I genuinely think it looks beautiful and I'm really impressed by it.


Definitely ignore that guy. While I personally would not use an iOS device for anything other than communicating, consuming media and entertainment (and have had just about every iOS device Apple sold, but I do my "real" work on an MBP), I really appreciate the thought you put in to this and double appreciate that you shared the thinking AND the code.


Don’t listen to him man, guys like you are what makes the Apple ecosystem so nice for users. You actually care for crafting an experience that belongs to the platform its on. Kudos!


Ah, nevermind that guy. I really like how Codea looks, and I think the iOS Menu looks great. More importantly, it feels great to use.


Ah, your average constructive and polite HN criticism. Take it easy dude.


Maybe a bit orthogonal to your point, but I feel that oftentimes "usable" trumps "pretty".


I agree, but that's contradictory to the quote.

> The result is a beautiful menu bar on an iPhone app


Open-source code is here: https://github.com/TwoLivesLeft/Menu/


This looks really nice, to the point that it almost looks like a 'missing' iOS UI component. A few thoughts:

- It could be nice to add 'bottom' mode support, where the menu appears above the menu indicator. At the moment the menu requires users to reach to the top of the screen, but the one-touch interaction could become even more accessible if the menu was at the bottom of the screen.

- There's one point of detail that is a really, really nice solution for a problem that lots of apps have: "What I ended up doing was choosing a light or dark tint for the menu title text and buttons based on the area of overlap with the underlying view, and the darkness of that view". The result looks fantastic. Hey Apple devs, if you're reading this... you should add system level support for this! i.e. dynamic contextual blur effects, I guess with some kind of callback or content effect to adjust content color as the underlying blur type changes.

- Although there's a lot of attention to detail already, the one-touch edge drag seems a little jerky to me. I'm not sure whether it's just the video, or the use of a Timer to accomplish this (I'd suggest a CADisplayLink, especially for supporting faster refresh rates on new iPads), or because every intermediate item immediately highlights as you scroll through - but perhaps disabling highlighting/selection during this auto-scroll interaction would help.

Overall it looks really great - thanks to the author for sharing this!


Another thing about bottom support... It seems like one reason the menu usage is divided into two taps is that your finger would be partially obscuring the items. If it's on the bottom, you can tap the title, hold, then drag to the menuitem with a clear view of the items.


Just want to say that this quite an amazing solution to a problem that has plagued pro apps for years.


I don't see how it's significantly different from the ubiquitous UIPopoverViewController:

https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guideline...


It's different from popover controllers. I used to use these in Codea quite a lot, but they are pretty heavy-weight.

I created the menu because there are a lot of subtle details that aren't really obvious until you use it often.

For example, you can't initiate a drag gesture into a popover controller easily — it's a full view controller presentation and will kill your gesture as it presents. So with the menu, for example, you can touch the menu item and drag directly to the item you want to select.

Same goes for dismissal — you can't interact with background content until you tap to dismiss.

Even Procreate, a well known painting app, uses their own custom popover controllers for this reason.


The follow-up article goes into detail about some of the differences: https://codea.io/blog/detailing-the-ios-menu/


Very nicely done. Here is part 2: https://codea.io/blog/detailing-the-ios-menu/


it just needs a little refinement, where the menu contents shift to the left/right, and out of the way of your finger when you swipe down through them.


The Microsoft "ribbon" got a lot of flack circa 2007, but it was essentially a menu / menu bar but with icons and large tap targets.

Something like that would be far more appropriate for iOS than just aping the Mac text menu. They should honestly bring icons/targets to the Mac menu as well.


In retrospect I wonder if the ribbon got flack because it was "different" and "weird". The best thing about it is that you don't have to guess at what buttons do which is a major problem I have with mobile, desktop, and web applications.


The original version of the Ribbon had no way for it to be minimized, and did not display the keyboard shortcuts that could do the same job. I’m not sure about this, but at the time I believe you could not use the Alt key to access any menu item the way you could before and still can now (IOW, it also killed the menu bar completely).

At a time when laptop sales were eclipsing desktop sales, using up all that valuable vertical real estate for the menu, combined with seriously gimping the power user experience, and also definitely, suddenly changing the experience, it was unsurprising it received a lot of flack.

Later versions of the ribbon showed how powerful the concept was, but it may have been a better idea for MS to have introduced it with their non power user apps first (I.e. Not Office, or at least, not Excel) until the kinks were worked out, and they may have avoided a lot of the initial flack.

Personally, as someone whose primary computer was a desktop with a massive screen, and was already adept with all the KB shortcuts, I was always a fan of the ribbon


Funny, a couple years ago I thought a lot about pulling off visualeffectviews with rounded edges when making thimblemac.com, https://stackoverflow.com/questions/26518520/how-to-make-a-s... goes a bit into the various os-version-specific ways people have done this


since the site is down, here are the videos:

https://twitter.com/twolivesleft


I don’t think they were expecting the traffic boost. Videos don’t play for me making it hard to visualize. Anyone else?


Whole site is down for me. Here's the text: https://web.archive.org/web/20190105061617/https://codea.io/...


I certainly wasn't expecting the traffic, sorry about the page going down.


Excellent work and really looking forward to Shade and Codea 3. Is there a public beta of Codea 3 yet?


3D Touch could be an alternative to the menu bar.


Except that a current iPhone, the XR, doesn't have 3D Touch.


It's just a long press accelerator anyway. They could fall back to that.


3D Touch is synonymous with right click - open a secondary _contextual menu_ for the thing you're interacting with.


Android has menus.



Page doesn't load...

Edit: Just saw in another comment that the website has problems for 2h. How can a submission from a for 2h down server be on number one at HN?

Why the downvote, I made a valid point, just reply and tell what I got wrong.


Not all submissions to HN are made by the people who made or host the referenced website- it's quite common to see a reply along the lines of "Hi I'm the author of X, really pleased to see it on HN". If someone isn't expecting a lot of traffic, it's not surprising that sometimes their sites are overwhelmed.

Disclaimer: I don't know the affiliation (if any) between jarenstein (the poster here) and codea.io (the website that went down), and nor am I checking.


https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18830267#18830773 from the author suggests they are different.




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