Do you take Sugar with your User Interface?
Does Sugar Labs hold the key to the future of the user interface?
Certainly the almost overwhelming bloat and complexity of modern user interfaces (and operating systems) are screaming out for something a little simpler – and could really benefit from being task or goal oriented. I previously wrote about something similar in Why the Asus eee PC will succeed.
The image above shows the Sugar interface which is dramatically different from the user interface (mentioning no names!) most of us are familiar with. Sugar was borne out of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative but Sugar Labs have recently been setup with the aim of focusing on the development of Sugar. Sugar Labs have recently made Sugar available under the GNU GPL (General Public License) making it open to developers worldwide to extend. The race is on to get an operating system and user interface on the OLPC initiative which could be XP or Linux/Sugar (or both if the dual boot idea becomes a reality).
The view buttons at the top of the interface allow the user to zoom in or out of the network showing Everyone, Groups and a Single User Connection. The last icon indicates the activity function.
The icons at the bottom of the screen, in a task bar sort of vein, indicate activities that require some form of action to be performed.
Users can customise their own XO icon colours (fill and outline) and see the customised XO of other users. These colours are important as many of your activities and files will match your chosen colour.
Rather than being based around the conventional idea of folders and files Sugar Labs have adopted an activity based approach keeping files and applications together. To see more screen shots of Sugar in action see this link http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sugar_Instructions and to see a short video of sugar:
Sugar Labs are aiming the Sugar interface to be a learning based interface for education but I imagine it won’t be long before the sights are set a little broader – but they would certainly have their work cut out to convince business users who are only now really getting to grips with the file/folder interface. The current Sugar interface, for me at least, harks back to an earlier simpler time in computing but this may be redesigned over time (taken to the next level of “usability and utility”) so Sugar is certainly something to keep an eye on.
To read more about Sugar Labs: http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Main_Page