Yo, Apple and Microsoft: Leave Card multitasking to webOS


Poor Matias Duarte

Look, I'm not going to lie: I'm a webOS fanboy. Like, I loved the shit outta that OS. And the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? The card UI.

How powerful my phone felt with that multitasker. Apps felt like physical cards, cards I could organise into piles or into a workflow. I had the power, not the Nintendo Power but a new, amazing Palm Power. Apps resumed quickly, and there was a 1:1 feel of the webOS cards, and in fact of the whole OS. Even running on the slow hardware of the Veer or Pre 2, it always felt like a beast when I flicked up my app cards.

With webOS, the focus of the OS was always with the cards. They were the gateway to everything, and essential to the OS, even causing webOS to have no homescreen like iOS or Windows Phone does, but rather just a place for cards and then a button to an app drawer.

The card UI was the shit. And so it's so annoying to see how badly Apple and Microsoft have screwed up Matias Duarte's lovechild. They've made their copy-paste effort useless and they've shown that they did copy it, because they missed the point.

webOS multitasking wasn't about screenshots galloping past your screen. See, these companies all fail to understand why that UI was so cool.

And I think the reason why is because it's just shoved into the OS, rather than the OS being built around the motif.

When you launch iOS apps, they do that fancy new animation in iOS 7. The app is fullscreen. And nowhere is the card UI seen. In webOS, on the other hand, you'd have had an equally annoying animation that showed the app as a card, and then zoomed in on it. There's no sense of that space in iOS 7. When you double tap that homebutton, the inconsistancy in your apps suddenly flying out, with no layers and no frosted, delicious glass, is relevant.

As discussed on The Vergecast, Apple seem to have invented these amazing layers, but they still haven't realised the inconsistancy of mixing a card multitasking UI with a popover notification tray and a popunder control center. Meanwhile, the whole idea of swiping a card up makes no sense here. And it has no sense: it's some sterile, 100% verticle upward descent for your application, as if it's just going to an area above your iPhone screen.


On webOS, it slid away, crawling into the twilight of your application drawer, eager to return with the same character it had when it left. iOS 7 isn't made for a card UI multitasker and it makes no sense. Jony Ive saw a screenshot of Windows Phone or webOS and simply remade what he thought it would be like. And same goes for whoever did it for Windows Phone.

Moving on, equally annoying is the animation when you activate multitasking. Double tap and then....wait. Ah, that animation is so amazing, Jony, thanks for allowing me to experience it again. But then it moves you to your most recent app rather than the app you JUST HAD OPEN. In an act of manipulation, Apple convinces you that you do want this app, rather than giving you the choice.

Apps rearrange???

This doesn't work with a Card UI. It defeats the purpose of a cards UI. It's like.....cool Jony Ive, just ruin my sparkly webOS dreams with this monstrosity. No organisation, no workflow, no sense of space, just a sterile multitasking UI that's built off of Palm.com, rather than actual experience of a webOS phone.

It's slower, and lacks the delight or satisfaction of webOS multitasking. Just like playing Spelunky, the occasional horror of webOS was all accounted for by this UI. It had character, something few mobile OS's have anymore.

All of the above applies for Microsoft, but I'm guessing this is the least of Windows Phone's concerns.

If Apple does anything in iOS 8, I hope they either duplicate webOS multitasking, the speed, the precision, the user control. Or just get rid of it.