If thinking critically, what does multiple home screens really add? Aside from multiple screens off course. Is there any explanation for their existence?
I hear this even in my sleep already: "Everyone thinks they're amazing / Everyone is used to them." But, that's just repeating an opinion. It doesn't explain why do people need them?
Another common one is: "Statistics tell us that people like products with multiple home screens in them." With that logic, you can say that statistically people also like seats with feces in them, because they use bathrooms several times a day. Sorry, people would be happier without the poo being involved if it would be possible.
This as well: "We have done extensive consumer studies to prove it's a must feature to have." Sigh. On paper, you can make people like poo just by asking them the right questions.
This comes up every now and then: "It's for everyone to personalize their devices." I'm pretty sure the device is already a personal one, and what user does with it, will make it even more so. Also, there's countless other ways to make the interface a personal one.
But the winner is: "What is this heresy I hear! From the beginning of time as we know it, home screen content has always been arranged in horizontal pages!" From the beginning of 2007. But then why is pretty much every other content browsed in vertical direction? Web pages, content streams, call histories, messages and gallery grids. All vertically arranged.
So really. Why does a smartphone need multiple horizontally arranged home screens? How do they make a smartphone smarter? What is the user need they fulfill?
I think it's actually the other way around. A smartphone would be smarter if it didn't have multiple home screens. The main issue is in the thinking that adding more, automatically equals a better product. And as usual, people are blind to the opposite.
It's a better product, that equals more. Let's try it out.
You give a user seven home screens, instead of five. Did it make a single home screen any better? Is it easier to move or find things between seven home screens? Are seven screens easier to decorate with widgets? Is it easier to find nice widgets that don't look horrible? Is it more personal solution? Did the product become smarter than before? Does it free system resources for actual user tasks?
Then try removing all but one home screen. Make that single remaining home screen better. Make it smarter. So that it adapts better to what user is actually doing with the device, removing the need to juggle between multiple home screens. Because everything you did and worked on, is found from the same home screen, everything becomes much faster. You launched a music player, and suddenly the controls are also there. You arrived at work and your email account summary is greeting you on your home screen. Suddenly the behavior feels more helpful and smarter, since you can do more by actually doing less.
Do you spot a pattern? Better, equals more.
There's even the age-old saying about quality trumping quantity. Well, marketing was clearly invented as an counter-argument. Because smart is hard to do. Just adding more is easy. A hammer with three heads instead of a single good one: a great idea everyone can boldly stand behind of. And with a good marketing campaign, nobody notices it's heavy as hell and unbalanced beyond practical. The rendering looks amazing, though.
So compared to doing smart and meaningful things, marketing is dirt cheap. Guess which path big manufacturers favor?
So let's try one more time: Does adding more home screens make a product easier to sell?
Hell yes it does!
If I buy a hammer, I want a better hammer than I had before. One that allows me to work faster, more efficiently and comfortably, not to forget improved safety. I don't want to buy an inferior hammer, just because it's easier to sell to other people; who at the end of the day, would also prefer a better hammer with a single good head, instead of having the option for multiple ones.
That means the product was intentionally made to perform poorly, just to make it sell more. Since the modular-wonder-hammer has the option to add more heads to it, the potential to develop a single good head is lost for the sake of a nonsense feature.
If Sailfish OS would have multiple home screens next to each other, it wouldn't be possible to have cover actions as explained in my previous post. It would mean that the ability for user to interact with tasks would be reduced.
For the sake of having a modular-wonder-hammer, that's heavy as hell and unbalanced beyond practical.
To be honest with all of you. Making a better product is really hard and painful. It's because the industry around you keeps repeating how more equals better. Especially when the rendering looks awesome.
The dumbest thing I've heard.
In the smartphone industry.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next post. In the meantime, agree or disagree, debate or shout. Bring it on and spread the word.