OS X Concept: Ultrabasic, no dock or menubar


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So this just occurred to me today and I threw a quick concept together. The idea is that Dashboard and the desktop have merged into one entity where widgets and full apps now occupy the same spaces. The full apps have taken on more of a widget form, where preferences are located at the back of the app window and the menu bar (may update to include this tomorrow) is contained in a menu at the top left of the window, so the universal menu bar is gone. I figure this menu could include a text search for all commands. New apps don't need to have it though, it's legacy support. The traffic light buttons are gone, no replacement for minimise or zoom, though closing can be done after hitting the Minus sign at the bottom of the display.

There's a notification bar at the top, which actually can't be interacted with except in the middle; you click that area for notifications, and that's pretty much that.

The dock is gone entirely, instead there are three small round buttons at the bottom of the display, in place permanently; Plus, Minus and Exit. Plus opens up Launchpad, except with no dock, and Spotlight is there on the very left page like it is on iOS (as you can see, I haven't sketched this just yet). Minus brings up the Mission control view, which works as usual, but also allows the closing of apps. Exit I haven't sketched at all but it's fairly obvious stuff; Logout and Shutdown controls etc, not sure what's the most natural way to display those options though.

I realise this is throwing an awful lot of OS X interface heritage away, but I think there may be something in it; to strip the interface right down to only the most basic of ingredients. These concepts are obviously in very early stages, so if anyone out there thinks that this line of thinking is worth continuing, I'd appreciate any feedback you may have for tweaks and anything I may have missed functionality-wise.


Update-1: Drawn in a way to replace menus, using Finder as an example, though the idea of course is to have this system-wide for all menu-driven apps. There's a 'Hide Menu / Show Menu' control where Close, Zoom and Minimise used to be. Clicking this brings out a sidebar with a trimmed selection of all menu commands, which can be manually changed, (let's just say for now with a right-click). The sketch just shows a direct copy / paste of the File Menu, but the actual thing would have it's own look and design, with a way of categorising the commands. At the top of this list is a search box to search all items. At the bottom of the list, there would be an option to show the full list, in case the function you needed wasn't on the trimmed version and you couldn't remember it's name.

I haven't mocked up the Exit button's function yet, but what I'm picturing so far is very similar to the login window, which has all the same options included as the current ML menu bar, but displayed all at once. Still deciding on layout.

Notifications are very incomplete still, and not sure yet how to expand on that, but I'm set on keeping it at the top of the display with some kind of quick description of the last notification to come through. The only thing I'm sure of wanting to add so far is Time Machine, it bugs me in ML how this isn't integrated into notifications.

Thanks for all the feedback so far, I was expecting it to be a little negative as, like Dan Gleibitz said, I've essentially replaced most of the features people like in OS X with a few features that are arguably the two worst parts of ML. I realise that, but I'm still hoping to win some people round to the idea.

The reason for my confidence in the concept boils down to this: Widgets and Apps coexisting in the same space. That's the big thing for me here, because it means you can add a dock if you really want to, it would just be called a dock widget. The vision is that all this would be available in the App Store, so there'd be full apps and handy little utilities alike being sold through the same channel and be able to occupy the same workspace, these widgets would be the apps that you never close.

So, does anybody have any widget suggestions that could empower my stripped-to-the-bone GUI concept?

Update-2: Added another sketch to try and demonstrate a possible use of widgets. Here, I've added a basic app launcher, a second launcher that shows recent apps, and a Menu Widget that stands in for the universal menu bar for those who want it.

I've decided now to add autohide functionality to these widgets (shown as a preference on the back of a third launcher). With this, certain widgets would have the ability to pop out from the top / bottom / side of the screen when the cursor is pushed against that edge. I can do this, there's no dock to have conflicts with. When those widgets are visible, they stay that way until clicked out of. In the sketch, the menu bar could be autohiding from the top, and both launchers could be autohiding from the bottom as a group.

I think this can go some way to empowering the concept beyond the crude "iOS-ification" that it appears to be. Thing is; the primary interface is now simple enough that widgets have a lot of room to play with, and a handful of fairly simple little tools can really add up for productivity purposes.

Still not sure on the notification centre, got some designs floating about but nothing I'd really want for myself. Any suggestions?

Update-3: I think the ability to use widgets as launchers and helper utilities within the desktop environment is a very powerful part of the concept, powerful enough I believe to easily compensate the loss of the dock and menu bar. It looks like I'm having a bit of trouble making the case though, people still see this as only a 'dumbing down' or 'iOS-ification' of the OS X interface. The last sketch failed to argue for this potential, so I'll try again now with a further feature for widgets.

In the below screenshots I've got a step by step example of Pages being used alongside widgets that have been either whitelisted or blacklisted for particular apps or documents. This means that a widget can be set to only be open when a certain app or document has the active window, in the case that it's been whitelisted for that certain app or document. In the case that it's blacklisted for the same app or document, the same widget would disappear to get out of the way of the active window.

Here's Pages, with eight windows open. The front window is a document about castles.


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Three widgets accompany this window. A sticky Note, a Wikipedia tool, and an Application Window Switcher. The Note and the Wikipedia widget are whitelisted for this particular article. The window switcher is whitelisted for Pages. The Window Switcher is there because I have this terrible habit of stacking my Pages windows on top of one another so that the ones behind are never visible, and I find Mission Control a hassle to use too often, as well as dragging my windows out of each-other's way.

Before Pages was opened, there was an App Launcher widget and a Stacks widget active on the desktop. They were blacklisted from being visible at the same time that Pages is open and has the active window, because they would look cluttered next to the Window Switcher, which uses the same area of the display. So they've disappeared for now.

In the next screen, the Window Switcher has been used to go to the next document, about astronomy.


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All the widgets tied to the last document go away, replaced by a set of more relevant Note widgets. The Window Switcher stays, that's tied to my app, not my last document.

In the next screen, I've clicked an empty area of the desktop so that Pages doesn't have the active window anymore.


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All those widgets relevant to my work in Pages vanish. In their place, my standard widgets for this particular desktop space come back again. I can now quit Pages from the App Launcher and get on with something else. Whatever app or document I open now, if I had tied widgets to that particular task, my workflow will come back exactly the way I left off.

Hopefully, that's convinced at least someone now, that taking most of OS X's power and complexity away from the primary interface and then handing it all over to a free-roaming army of hand-picked widgets can actually lead to an interface that, while being baby simple to operate by a brand new user, also has a lot of potential for power users to tap into.