The radial menu is perfect for mobile because it matches the movement pattern of the user's thumb.
I do like the idea of a radial menu but it can be confusing. The audio one is intuitive but not the camera. At least the first couple times I tried to send a video I messed it up.
Thanks for the write-up, Scott. I hadn't been following these new features that closely.
There is one thing that is weird to me now: the double microphone buttons on the iMessage keyboard. That doesn't seem well considered, having one microphone button for transcribing your voice message and a separate one for sending your voice message. Old and new conventions clashing a bit.
To me, this is the marquee improvement of iMessage, and the attention to detail blows me away. Not only is Apple making liberal use of new gestures here, it’s also embracing the radial menu effect while creating a new native iOS design pattern. Whoa.
While the user experience of this is fantastic — and I hate to do the platform comparison — the native Android camera app has already established a similar pattern, equally as ‘radical’… I’m sorry, but the whole thing feels like a puff piece.
[Author here] That's OK. It might be a puff piece because I'm so impressed by Apple's boldness. But I think if you design products you can learn a lot from these changes.
Can you link me to the Android camera app UI to which you referred?
You’re right, we can all learn a lot from these interfaces, I suppose I just get sick of the gushing. The interface I was thinking of was first made available in the camera app on the Nexus 4, and pertains to settings more than sharing. You can see it in this video review at 4:46.
Apple’s design has used this metaphor to make the messaging experience seamless… I‘m not discounting that.
Awesome, thanks for the link. Checking it out now. I like how this design pattern is maturing; my only concern is that it's not immediately obvious that it's there and what one should do with it.
I think my enthusiasm definitely showed in this post, and could easily be interpreted as gushing. Heck, maybe it is ;)
Anyhow, thanks for the comments, Simon, and this Android UI link is really useful.
I always liked the idea of that radial menu pattern but I found it hard to use in practice. I wasn't surprised when Google abandoned the pattern a couple months ago. The current camera app (com.google.android.GoogleCamera) is a big improvement in terms of performance and standardization across devices, and it also adds new features and a new UI.
I'd be interested to hear what iOS's designers think about the radial menu pattern that Android tried to use for the past couple years. My main complaints were that I couldn't operate it with only one hand and that when I swiped towards the wrong menu item I needed to go back to the menu root, over and over again.
About the article… it sure was "gushing" as you said. I share the author's enthusiasm for using iOS 8. What's most exciting to me is that this gestural interface isn't just an aesthetic UI layer for the camera (as in Android's stock apps), but rather it appears to be a core component that will encourage the new flow of functionality in any app that developers make.
+1 [from the gushing author ;) ]
Hey Scott! Have you tried out the features yourself? It's unclear from the article.
Hey Drew. I don't have iOS 8 installed yet myself, but I had a friend walk me through the features on his device over a screencast. It's buttery.
Radial menus are really nothing new, Android was hardly the first. The key here though, is where it's being used. Its a nice tight integration. The Android thing you linked is for camera features, and is also not unique to that. In fact, here's an iOS app that uses one, released a year before the nexus4. (http://www.judithleist.net/2012/07/12/layout-for-ipad-review/)
Not sure there's value in saying who did it first, everything draws inspiration from everything else. The points being made in the article are about the improvement vs the old method. Taken as a comparison of the old flow to new, I'd say this is spot on.
I think what's gone unsaid about the audio messaging feature is that Apple is basically admitting what I and many others long ago figured out -- that Siri completely sucks at dictating text messages. (I'm also really glad that they pulled the microphone out of the lower left corner of the keyboard and relocated it to a more prominent and useful place on the screen.)