Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I miss my Spaces

I'm sure the NC DOT has its reasons for designing roads that induce drivers to switch lanes constantly or be forced into turn-only lanes. But having a reason is not the same thing as making a good choice or making acceptable trade-offs.

I'm sure Apple has its reasons for removing Spaces from OSX Lion and replacing it with Mission Control. But they went all NC DOT in the process, forcing desktops into a single lane. The result is a system which is more difficult to navigate and less functional than its predecessor.

How can the seemingly simpler Mission Control be harder than the two-dimensional Spaces? Well, Mission Control isn't actually simpler. Like an NC DOT onion-skinned road design, the user is forced to shift their attention from getting to an objective destination, to a forced choice problem of avoiding undesired exits.

Forcing choices on people in an interface is good when the options are potentially equally valued, and you need to determine a preference. Forced choice is a terrible thing when there is no need to determine the preference, or when there is no preference.

Spaces could be used to eliminate the need to search, by using the brain's natural inclination to remember details based on physical location. Mission Control turns the direct access ability of Spaces into a linear scanning process.

I'm sorry, Apple, but Mission Control is a big time FAIL.

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