Tablet application UI / UX resources
April 18, 2011 2:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for user interface (UI) and user experience articles, tutorials, and resources specifically targetted at tablet applications.

I'm a software developer. Although I have little experience with UI and UX design and implementation I have read several of the "classics"; I'm a big Edward Tufte fan, I've read "Universal Principles of Design", etc.

I'm looking for articles, tutorials, and resources specifically targetting at applications designed to run on tablets. I'm particular open to anecdotes about personal development experiences. Although I will also accept answers that refer to exceptionally well-designed tablet applications I would appreciate some context about why you feel such applications are examples of good design, as opposed to just pointing out to me that they're excellent.

Moreover, technical articles that cover how to implement well-design interfaces on either of Android or Apple iOS platforms is welcome; this is what I'll eventually have to do.

I am not looking for:
  • single-link posts
  • Android vs. Apple iOS flame-wars
  • generic resources about general UI / UX principles
  • links to Steve Jobs presentations
  • "OMGBBQ, read everything by Edward Tufte!"
posted by asymptotic to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'll assume you'll have no objections to Apple Developer Center documents:

iOS Human Interface Guidelines
• Which orientations should my iPad application support?
• Preparing Your Web Content for iPad
• UISplitViewController Class Reference
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:47 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @Blackcock Pileon: No objections at all, thanks. Are you aware of similar documents covering Android tablet UIs?
posted by asymptotic at 3:14 AM on April 18, 2011

Generally speaking, the "best" UI designs are the ones that people who use a platform are most familiar with, where the controls are the same locations, have consistent behavior, and show consistent information. If you do things consistently, your users will spend their time using your app, instead of learning how to use it.

While there aren't that many third-party Android tablet apps to look at as real-world demos, you might hit up Google's dev site for their UI guidelines. I would look again closely at Apple's split view documentation and demo app, as this part of their iPad UI has worked its way into Android 3, which Google calls "Fragments".

The phone companies mess with the versions of Android their put on their phone-tablets, so their sites might also be useful for looking at the changes they make, to look at the parts of Android that they don't mess with, which are probably too valuable to break.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:03 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I flicked through a copy of Designing for the iPad recently and bits of it seemed interesting, although a large part of the book looked like a rehash of how the author wrote a specific application and thus perhaps hard to generalise.
posted by emilyw at 4:19 AM on April 18, 2011

For iPhone/iPod Touch developers, there is also iPad Programming: A Quick-Start Guide for iPhone Developers from the Pragmatic Programmer label, which outlines differences between the iPhone and iPad platforms.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:06 AM on April 18, 2011

Best answer: Josh Clark has done a lot of research on UI design and usability in the iPhone/iPad space. His book Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps is regarded as a really good source of information about iPhone UI, but it is iPhone-specific. He is reportedly in the process of writing an iPad companion book, but it is not yet published. He has been giving some presentations at conferences about iPad usability, though. A video of the iPad UI design session that he presented at the 360iDev conference in Austin, titled "iPad Design Headaches", can be downloaded for a fee.

I'm an iOS developer, not an Android developer, so I know less about the Android side of the picture. I will point out a resource that made the rounds a few days ago, though. Apparently Google does have an Android Human Interface Guidelines document, but it isn't very detailed. (Or so I've been told.) Recently, a community-written document started making the rounds that spelled out best practices in Android UI design in much greater detail. I haven't read it, but it got high marks from some Android developer friends of mine who praised it for filling in the blanks from the official Android HIG.
posted by perrce at 6:48 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You might also be interested in Designing Gestural Interfaces. I hear the author talk at a WebVisions conference (a similar presentation is online) a couple of years ago, and there are some interesting challenges when designing an interface without a keyboard.

That book may be more Kinect/Wii/paper towel dispenser centric than touch interfaces, but it could be worth a look-see.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:43 PM on April 18, 2011

Response by poster: This is great stuff, thanks! I'm not sure what I'm going to buy (can't afford to get all of the books...) but this is a good start.

@fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit: Dan Saffer's Designing for Interaction might actually be more relevant than Designing Gestural Interfaces, if only because the latter, as you point out, is less about touch and more about gestures.
posted by asymptotic at 5:09 AM on April 19, 2011

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