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Different Tack is different. Here is how.

Rédigé par Surya - Ovi Community Manager le Mardi 28 Juin 2011

Hello all, this guest post was written for us by Andy Hards. He is a proud father of two currently working for a citrus like airline but can be found lurking around the edges of tech sites everywhere. Intent on ensuring access to mobile communication for an entire village in Senegal. ...

Hello all, this guest post was written for us by Andy Hards. He is a proud father of two currently working for a citrus like airline but can be found lurking around the edges of tech sites everywhere. Intent on ensuring access to mobile communication for an entire village in Senegal. A gadget geek, music lover and N8 user still mourning the passing of Gil Scott Heron.


Like many people out there I set up a Twitter account and then didn’t use it, leaving it to the celebs that have amusing conversations with each other and show how funny and clever they are in 140 characters or less. Then I saw a piece mentioning Different Tack in one of the gadget magazines a few months back. What struck me immediately was the cool looking interface based on a kind of multi level wheel or ‘Rose Diagram’ with a Smartie like button in the centre. The wheel is your control panel and provides an entirely new way to navigate through your Tweets.

I downloaded it straight away to play around with it and was instantly hooked. To find out more about Different Tack I contacted Kristian Lukander (@k_ride) from Fluid Interaction who told me:

“The idea is to provide people with a better tool for quickly indexing through their feeds. It’s based on our patented technology, the scaling rotary selector, which creates an interactive info-graphical presentation of any given content, challenging traditional menu and list based approaches.The endless list view other apps use has its problems with navigability and discoverability, and we’re trying to tackle these by designing for the human perceptual system.”

The science behind this approach to ‘human information processing’ goes back a long way and even includes dear old Florence Nightingale who in 1858 used a similar diagram to show the how many soldiers died in ‘the East’ and the major causes of those deaths over a 12 month period. Using an equation called Fitt’s Law and something called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation or RSVP, the Fluid guys worked out the best way to see large amounts of various data types with the smallest amount of eye movement in the shortest time. They also wanted to make it engaging and fun.

Different Tack is a sailing term and meaning turning 90 degrees and taking a completely new direction to make the most out of the wind while still heading for the same goal. The Fluid guys chose this name to show that theirs was a completely new approach to browsing. Digital touch screens afford a completely new way of interaction while most other Twitter clients are still using age-old desktop designs. So by challenging accepted norms they have created a new way to navigate existing routes to the same destination or a completely ‘Different Tack’.

So how does it work?

I’m not going to lie, it does take a little getting used to but if you use Twitter it is truly worth the effort. Once you input your Twitter name and password you get a short tutorial that gives you the basics that’s enough to get you going. Different Tack uses coloured wedges on a wheel to show what actions are possible from each Tweet you are looking at. Green is for your main timeline of Tweets from all those you follow, yellow can show Tweets from any twitter account you have selected, including your own and red is for tweets containing #Hashtag keywords. Blue is for actions such as write, reply, retweet, etc. The centre of the wheel is a nice shiny button and this too changes colour depending on where it will take you if you tap it.

If you get lost, give the centre a long press and you are taken to a shortcut wheel which has a home option. To read your tweets you scroll round slowly in an anticlockwise motion reading each tweet in turn starting with the most recent, so in effect you are winding back time. If you lift your thumb off the screen  it will bring up a new wheel with all the options available for that particular tweet. In this way, you can read other tweets with the included hashtag or read tweets by those mentioned in the tweet. The colours of the wedges will change once you read them or take any action such as replying or retweeting. The more retweets a message gets the longer the blue section will be on the wedge and if you add a tweet to your favorites, by flicking it out, the original will stick out slightly further than the rest of the wedges on the wheel.

The text window will orient itself to however you hold the phone. The icons on the wedges will follow suit too. It all feels very organic and alive and everything seems to be moving, the wedges jostle each other until they have equalised the amount of space available and the centre button pulses as though it is alive. Every time I open use Different Tack I seem to find a new feature, such as holding your finger on a particular tweet will highlight all other tweets by the same person on that wheel. There are 30 tweets visible on the green wheel but lifting up on the last wedge will retrieve another 30.

For such a potentially huge App to be available to Symbian users first was no accident. Qt provided the team with a solid development framework that enabled them to publish much faster. Also, the team wanted to launch a ‘limited access’ beta version and the current market situation, with just a handful of Symbian^3 devices (currently the N8-00, E6-00, E7-00, C6-01, C7-00 and X7-00) meant that this was possible and was a great way to get real user feedback before going for different ecosystems.  Another reason was the Nokia Calling All Innovators competition encouraging developers to create great new apps for Symbain^3 devices. Different Tack was the entry from the Fluid Interaction team, who are planning on introducing new features all the time. They are still working on Different Tack so there will probably be many more updates to come, such as Facebook and other social network compatibility. One thing I want to see is the ability to make use of the N8’s great camera, so that’s something I’ll be looking out for. If you have any suggestions you could send the team a Tweet, using Different Tack of course! :)




Source :

Tags : nokia, ovi

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