User Interface of Figure – a case study

Fellow music blogger, Ethan Hein has an excellent study of the ins and outs of Figure’s interface from a usability perspective.

Two interesting notes:

Part of the reason I moved from Reason to Ableton Live is that Ableton looks and works like a computer program. It has its own quirks, but at least everything on the screen has a function.

And later:

Figure has no skeuomorphism whatsoever. It’s all flat-colored polygons and large, friendly text. Everything on the screen is functional; nothing is decorative. Smartphone software forces these kinds of minimalist design choices just by virtue of their limited screen real estate, so iOS apps and mobile web sites tend to be easier on the brain than their desktop counterparts. Propellerhead took the mobile aesthetic and ran with it. Figure is their most attractive and least annoying product by a mile

I’ve said it before, that Ableton has a huge advantage in the mobile space, in that their app already looks like a 21st century mobile app. While many of the core iOS developers are struggling to bring their software “up” to a legitimate level (with a nod to Algoriddim, who has successfully marketed Djay as a competitor to novice apps like Virtual DJ), Ableton could stay the course and bring Live to a mobile device while maintaining many of the UI metaphors present in their desktop app.

Propellerhead is slowly ditching photorealism

Propellerhead just detailed some new Rack Extensions for Reason that are being released directly from them.

Rack Extensions are a great idea, and a possible answer to the question of how to do plugins in the era of sandboxed apps. (I’d kill…KILL for a Max-for-Live-ish tool for creating these)

However cool the plugins themselves may be, there is a buried lead – Reason is starting to look more like Figure. Compare Pulsar with Thor – visually speaking it’s like comparing 90’s Vertigo comics to Pictures for Sad Children; both are deep in their respective ways, but one is visually much simpler, and delivers the information far more directly.

The trend in lots of software right now is to ditch old timey metaphors and go “pure digital”. Ableton has been “pure digital” all along, Propellerhead is getting there. What about Logic? Pro Tools? Wood Panel Band? Hello?