Some might think that Microsoft should pick a user interface for its Office products and stick with it, but its UX designers have other plans. The company has unveiled yet more potential changes to its Microsoft 365 user interface in an ambitious Medium post.
Amidst the grandiloquent ideas, the main change appears to be to the ribbon. Though Microsoft never really finished its original fluent design, it now wants to adopt what it calls a flexible ribbon in place of the single-line ribbon.
“The next wave of Microsoft 365 UX changes will go even further by fading brand colors from app headers and exploring adaptive commanding,” wrote design and research VP Jon Friedman. “A flexible ribbon that progressively discloses contextually relevant commands at the right time just where you need them.”
Judging by the video, this could mean that Microsoft will use icons and app color branding in the headers to make it clear what app you’re in. It also plans to replace the fixed ribbon with one that can be docked and floated based on what you’re doing, perhaps like a glorified right- or ctlr-click command box. The team hasn’t locked down the final design, however.
The designers also want to put the command search bar in the top center, making it easier to find the myriad functions available in Word, Excel and other apps. “We’ll further advance our seamless, cross-suite Search to bring relevant information to your fingertips,” wrote Friedman.
All the changes are in service of keeping you focused on the task at hand, whether it requires lengthy concentration or quick tasks. “By designing for multiple cognitive states, focused experiences throughout the Microsoft 365 ecosystem minimize external distractions, lessen self-interruptions, and jumpstart flow,” according to Friedman.
The sprawling article and lavish video don’t convey much information, but may unintentionally explain why the Office UI has become so complicated. Hopefully the new design ideas will help, but they could take awhile. “While some of these changes will roll out within a year or two, others are still very much exploratory,” wrote Friedman.
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We’re getting an early glimpse at the display on the iPhone 12 thanks to an online leak, and it looks a lot like the screens on the most recent iPhones. That’s bad news if you were hoping that Apple would shrink the notch on its upcoming phones.
The leaked image comes from Mr. White, a Twitter user who has a habit of posting pictures of various iPhone components, like the upcoming A14 Bionic processor. That tweet, showing what appears to be an iPhone 12 panel, has since disappeared from Twitter, but MacRumors captured it before it vanished.
A subsequent tweet by Mr. White shows the panel in sharper detail, and this time the leaker notes that the new panel sports the “same Face ID size.”
It’s no secret that Apple would like to eventually downsize and maybe even do away with the notch on its smartphones. Reports from last year suggested that future Apple smartphones wouldn’t include a notch, though that wasn’t expected to happen until 2021.
It’s safe to say the iPhone’s notch divides opinion. First introduced with the iPhone X in 2017, the notch gives Apple phones a distinctive look that Android device makers have rushed to copy. The notch also supports Face ID, which gives Apple an edge over other devices with its secure face unlocking feature, not to mention fun messaging capabilities featuring animoji.
But the iPhone’s notch means that Apple phones still have a bit of a bezel bulging into the display. You only need to look at the just unveiled Samsung Galaxy Note 20 to see the benefits of uninterrupted display real estate.
As more Android phone makers adopt minimal bezels for their phones, Apple might feel pressured to do the same. Whether or not that begins to happen with the iPhone 12, however, remains very much up in the air.
Chinese tech giant Huawei is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to U.S. sanctions and will be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive says, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from American pressure.
Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the centre of U.S.-Chinese tension over technology and security. The feud has spread to include the popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok and China-based messaging service WeChat.
Washington cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology including Google’s music and other smartphone services last year. Those penalties were tightened in May when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei.
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Production of Kirin chips designed by Huawei’s own engineers will stop Sept. 15 because they are made by contractors that need U.S. manufacturing technology, said Richard Yu, president of the company’s consumer unit. He said Huawei lacks the ability to make its own chips.
“This is a very big loss for us,” Yu said Friday at an industry conference, China Info 100, according to a video recording of his comments posted on multiple websites.
“Unfortunately, in the second round of U.S. sanctions, our chip producers only accepted orders until May 15. Production will close on Sept. 15,” Yu said. “This year may be the last generation of Huawei Kirin high-end chips.”
More broadly, Huawei’s smartphone production has “no chips and no supply,” Yu said.
Yu said this year’s smartphone sales probably will be lower than 2019’s level of 240 million handsets but gave no details. The company didn’t immediately respond to questions Saturday.
Huawei, founded in 1987 by a former military engineer, denies accusations it might facilitate Chinese spying. Chinese officials accuse Washington of using national security as an excuse to stop a competitor to U.S. tech industries.
Huawei is a leader among emerging Chinese competitors in telecoms, electric cars, renewable energy and other fields in which the ruling Communist Party hopes China can become a global leader.
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Huawei has 180,000 employees and one of the world’s biggest research and development budgets at more than $15 billion a year. But, like most global tech brands, it relies on contractors to manufacture its products.
Earlier, Huawei announced its global sales rose 13.1% over a year ago to 454 billion yuan ($65 billion) in the first half of 2020. Yu said that was due to strong sales of high-end products but gave no details.
Huawei became the world’s top-selling smartphone brand in the three months ending in June, passing rival Samsung for the first time due to strong demand in China, according to Canalys. Sales abroad fell 27% from a year earlier.
Washington also is lobbying European and other allies to exclude Huawei from planned next-generation networks as a security risk.
In other U.S.-Chinese clashes, TikTok’s owner, ByteDance Ltd., is under White House pressure to sell the video app. That is due to fears its access to personal information about millions of American users might be a security risk.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced a ban on unspecified transactions with TikTok and the Chinese owner of WeChat, a popular messaging service.
Boom, there she goes – the humongous Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G jumps out from the box and is ready for action, but before we get to the fun stuff, let’s stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Time for a Note 20 Ultra unboxing video!
This time, we don’t seem to get anything too fancy, but what we do get is pretty sweet:
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
USB-C to USB-C cable
Powerful 25W fast charger
AKG-powered wired earphones with additional rubber eartips
SIM ejector tool
Do note that this is a review sample, so the contents might differ slightly from some retail packages, but hey – let’s just be happy that we’re still getting actual earphones and charger in the box! Don’t forget to check out our detailed Galaxy Note 20 Ultra hands-on for more info.
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