Many screen resolutions, many adapters for your data presenters
Recently we received an email from Google suggesting to prepare our apps for new screen dimensions, new devices with new resolutions and a new screen format – 18×9 …. you get my drift. Hardware companies like LG , Samsung are changing the screen formats and density. If you have apps which present a lot of data that may come as good news but for some of your users it may come with so many headaches. Why headaches, you ask?
The first problem for our apps is to have an uniform GUI over all devices, which is not possible. The fragments in Android is a good idea with sniffs of “configuration over code use” but still not fully baked. As an example I will present one of the problems we faced and the final decision.
How to support maps and data on small screens and tablets in a meaningful way?
There are several alternatives:
- data is on one screen, maps on another screen
- split the screen for maps and data
- open/close panels for data or maps
- buttons for data or maps
The advantage of using panels or buttons to show only data or maps is the real-estate gain for showing data or maps. The user can see it normally, no cramming, not much scrolling just lock in the screen with what you are interested in. The cons is the fact that the link and one-view-shows-all is lost and the extra gestures needed when you search or looking for correlation and patterns is lost.
Data on one screen and maps on another is another variant of panels/button switch with the advantage that you may present a short fragment (let’s say one location on the top of the map) for data and navigating ways for it. If your user linger on one screen or another it may present a solution.
Split the screen variant has its own pros&cons. Pro is from the link between data and maps and easy navigation from one to another, cons are coming from small real-estate to see much from each slice of data. If you add to it the support for landscape modes and changes in how the data is presented you can have multiply easily the whole application by 4 or 6 in the number of layouts.
Our decision, just by following the logical evolution in screen resolution of the phones was to present both maps and data on the same screen. If you look around you, 4K TVs will become 8K TVs and the mini-screens will follow the same path. On phones there is vertical scroll and rarely used – horizontal screen. Scrolling is much more intuitive than clicking back and forth and trying to correlate parts of data not under your eyes.