FilmOn (English)

Posted by Tiago do Vale on 27/06/2011 in Blog

TV viewing applications for PCs are a mature, fully developed market were there isn’t a vast open space for innovation anymore. At least, not in a technical sense.

Where it lacks, tough, is in User Interface: each new feature introduced extra complexity to a point were intuitive interaction with the software is only but a dream…

We recognize in this an opportunity to rethink how we interact with TV software for PCs from a user standpoint.

The standard look of the application is clean, just serving it’s purpose of showing the TV feed, and nothing else if it’s not necessary. Not even a frame, just a drop-shadow to define the window.

When one moves the mouse towards the place were one would expect to see the minimize, maximize and close buttons, those fade-in. With them appear also 3 other buttons, which give direct access to the channel list, activates the control panel and calls the application menu.

The borders of the window allow a resizing action, as is normal. The buttons “island” at the top isn’t resized, though, and the remote control shortens the text content at the right, instead of resizing, too.

Once we click the “+” sign on the remote control, buttons appear for the advanced features, recording, taking still images, scheduling, etc..

Finally, when in full screen, the UI adapts for the possibility of the user being far away from the screen, so everything is rendered quite bigger. The remote control appears over the image when needed. If there’s no activity, it will slide off the screen in a few seconds (in a well know behavior from other applications).

Managing transparencies, fades and etc. over the live-video can be undesirable.

So, everything is placed just outside of the picture frame, with no exceptions: nothing goes over the picture rectangle, and everything happens on it’s periphery.

The “panels” slide from under the image to present volume information for a few seconds every time its state is changed.

The channel list appears in the same fashion when its called from its dedicated button on the top-right of the window.

The remote control panel can be called from its dedicated button, and it resizes when the window is resized.

The “+” sign expands the remote control panel, showing advanced functions; this behavior is consistent through the application.

The channel list decides if it displays 3, 2 or 1 columns in accordance with the width available, and in extremely small widths it uses the same “…” workaround as the remote control panel uses when resizing. Vertically, it shows as much information as vertical space is available (depending on screen size and window position), and displays a vertical scrollbar to show the rest of the list.

The intention was to have the most simple, clean and elegant UI possible, with all the user needs for regular usage being at the distance of a click, and with all the complexity showing only if and when needed, maximizing (and not compromising) functionality and a great user experience.


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