Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Community SSU features to look forward to

I've been writing some patches for hildon-desktop (the window manager on Maemo 5). For some of the more useful ones, I've reworked them to be configurable via transitions.ini (and disabled by default), so they can be merged into the Community SSU. Most of these patches try to improve the user experience and look and feel of the Maemo 5 UI, but tastes differ, so you can choose which one to enable:
  • Blurless desaturation: With this feature enabled, the background of dialogs, menus, the launcher and the switcher won't get all blurry - instead, they keep their sharpness, but are darkened and desaturated. (thread with screenshots)
  • Bigger task switcher: I think this is one of my earliest patches, now cleaned up to be configurable with different settings. You can choose between the Maemo 5 default layout, the single-column "big" task switcher and the two-column task switcher. I've left the horizontal task switcher out of this, as it wasn't working that well in some situations. (thread with screenshots)
  • Rotation around the Z axis: This one makes the screen rotation look much more natural, just like on the MeeGo Handset UX. Instead of rotating around the X and Y axis, this makes the transitions from/to portrait mode rotate around the Z axis. (demo video)
  • Forced auto-rotation for all apps: By default, hildon-desktop obeys the preferences of application windows and whether or not they support portrait mode. With this option enabled, hildon-desktop ignores those preferences and instead assumes every application can be auto-rotated. There's no support for the home screen, launcher or switcher, as these things are more complicated to support in portrait mode. (demo video)
Assuming that MohammadAG will merge these patches into the Community SSU version of hildon-desktop (a few of these have already been merged), you will get to enjoy those features in a future update. Please note that all those features are disabled by default, and need to be enabled explicitly in transitions.ini. For some of these options, a restart (of the device or hildon-desktop) is required.

In other news, the Community SSU version of H-A-M (that's the Application Manager in Maemo 5) now supports portrait mode, and this might also be merged at some point (it already works with the "Forced auto-rotation" patch, there are just some graphical glitches in the main screen that are fixed by the patch). Anybody up for some HTML hacking to make Maps portrait-aware? Should be easy to do, but I won't work on that one. Contributions welcome :)

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