So far, Android has largely been a handset OS and both the native user interface and the UIs created by handset manufacturers (such as Motorola's Motoblur and HTC'c Sense) certainly cater to the relatively small screens of even the largest smartphones. What happens, though, when Android (and Google's Chrome OS) end up seeing active duty in tablets, netbooks, embedded devices, and various "screens" significantly larger than the average smartphone?
One of the major complaints about the iPad, the first real entry into the tablet market, is that the user interface and OS so closely resemble a big iPhone. The size lends itself to something more, beyond some iPad-optimized apps. It seems that Google intends to avoid this trap with its acquisition late last week of Bumptop. ZDNet's Zack Whittaker called out Bumptop last year, noting,
It’s called “BumpTop” because everything on your desktop, replacing your standard Windows desktop, can be shifted and bumped about. By tapping an icon with another icon bumps it in a calculated direction, making it seamlessly similar yet different enough to how a real desktop works. The taskbar remains in place, but having certain themes attached to the application give Windows 7 an entirely new light.
Bumptop, in fact, is a 3-dimensional remix of a standard Windows or Mac desktop. As PC Magazine describes it, Bumptop is
a freeware application that transforms one's generic, two-dimensional desktop into a walled, three-dimensional, navigable display. In addition, the software is fully compatible with multi-touch gesturing as well, provided one's hardware supports such technology
Hmmmm...multi-touch, eh? Sounds like the sort of UI just waiting for a tablet with which users can interact intuitively, moving objects into containers, in-out boxes, photo frames, piles, and just about any other desktop contrivance.
Of course, neither Google nor Bump Technologies is commenting on Google's plans for the technology, but it's pretty easy to envision both MID-like devices and embedded devices like those supporting Google TV with an innovative 3D interface. If Google's first tablet offers something truly new on the UI front, then Android just might avoid being the Cialis of tablets; Google just might out-UI the undisputed UI masters in Cupertino.