Bumptop acquisition to give Google UI edge over Apple?

Bumptop acquisition to give Google UI edge over Apple?

Summary: 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?

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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.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Banking, Enterprise Software, Google, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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9 comments
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  • I was just saying today....Google is at an interesting point in time...

    Basically forget the iPad. Android is about to be
    on TV's and set top boxes. But the big mistake
    they were headed towards was not making their UI
    accommodate larger screens. They've seen the
    mistake made once already. It would be stupid to
    follow in their footsteps. If this is what they
    have up their sleeve then they are definitely on
    the right track to bringing us all a great
    experience on multiple form factors.
    storm14k
    • It's such a stupid mistake iPads are flying off the shelves.

      [i]They've seen the mistake made once already[/i]

      Meanwhile, the Android tablets are... well... not doing so well. That,
      however, has more to do with Google's inept running of the Market Place.
      Their release early, iterate often is getting them into problems.

      That siad, BumpTop is kinda fun and different.
      Bruizer
      • How would Android tablets not be doing well....

        ....when they aren't on the market yet. They
        only one that has been out was the Arcos which
        wasn't marketed much and originally didn't
        include the market on it.

        Anyway.....what do you see people doing on
        iPads....using Ipad apps. You hardly see anyone
        with their iPad with a tiny app in the middle of
        a big black screen or blown to ridiculous
        proportions. Google stands to correct that and
        make their current market of apps usable on
        various screen sizes. Unlike the iPhone OS
        Android is about to be on televisions so they
        need to handle that.

        And in turn Google's market is so poorly run
        that Android phones are flying off the shelves.
        So much so that HTC apparently can't keep up
        with the production of them and Motorola
        basically saved their company with them.
        storm14k
        • Which is it???

          [i]....when they aren't on the market yet.[/i]

          or

          [i]\[There is\] only one that has been out was the Arcos
          which wasn't marketed much and originally didn't
          include the market on it.[/i]

          Those two contradict each other right off the bat. I think Android
          worship has made your gray matter a bit off.

          The Market is not an Archos issue but a Google issue and one they
          need to rectify fast.

          [i]Google stands to correct that and make their current market of apps
          usable on various screen sizes.[/i]

          They can't even get an official Twitter client to work on more than 25%
          of the devices out there.

          [i]Unlike the iPhone OS Android is about to be on televisions so they
          need to handle that.[/i]

          Again, they can't even get an official Twitter client to work on more
          than 25% of the devices out there. They are really working on a "three
          screen" strategy (Chrome OS, Android on cells and Android on TV) but
          are being very sloppy about their implementation. That works for
          "free" but less so when people actually pay for things. For reference
          look at the launch of the Nexus One. Great hardware lousy execution.
          How many TV's do they plan on stranding out there with obsolete
          OSes?

          [i]And in turn Google's market is so poorly run
          that Android phones are flying off the shelves. [/i]

          Yep. There are serious issues in Market Place land in developers
          making any money off of it. App discovery is still poor compared to
          the competition. It has been getting better but slowly.

          I am loosing faith in Google's ability to execute a plan.
          Bruizer
          • It's an expectation is search of a problem...

            You seem to have a particular expectation of
            what "winning" and "failing" in the market
            means.

            Imagine someone has the plan to sell a piece of
            art for $100. So, they go to a flea market, put
            their art on a table, and someone offers them
            $150 for it. Sold.

            From the artists perception, it was a success.
            A MAJOR success. They intended on selling the
            art for $100 but, instead, sold it for 50%
            more. Fantastic.

            You, however, enter the scene and say, "They
            failed. Their art isn't hanging in a museum and
            hasn't fetched a million dollars or more like
            other artwork. Therefore, the artist has failed
            miserably. $150? c'mon!"

            It seems to me that you have been programmed by
            the media to assume that every new phone needs
            to be an "iPhone killer" to be relevant. On the
            contrary, no single Android phone has been an
            iPhone killer so far. With the onslaught of
            multiple Android phones, the collective lends
            itself to become an iPhone killer.

            Killing the iPhone isn't about selling more
            with a single device. It's about showing
            consumers that you can have a choice. It's
            about showing that your choices can involve a
            phone that let you install software that hasn't
            been explicitly approved by Apple or Google or
            any other Big Brother. It's about showing
            developers that you can write an app for a
            phone using a Windows machine, a Linux machine,
            or a Mac... and that you aren't confined to
            just one particular type of OS to develop with.

            If you were to compare Android phones on day
            one or month one or year one to sales of the
            iPhone, you could certainly make the case that
            maybe Android was a bad idea. Now, you've got
            companies like Motorola who have 8 Android
            phones and plan another 20 more before the end
            of this year.

            Next, you could turn to money... showing how
            Apple is making a whole lot more money from the
            sales of iPhones than Google will ever make
            from the sales of Android phones. In fact,
            Microsoft stands to profit more from Android
            phones than Google. Go figure.

            But, I'm assuming you're a consumer. From a
            consumer standpoint, we shouldn't care how much
            Apple makes from selling devices to us. If we
            were to care at all, we should be demanding
            they make less money. After all, this is what
            an open market is supposed to be... several
            options which make haggling and shopping around
            possible. Nobody pats themselves on the back
            for shopping at Wal-Mart and showing just how
            much money Wal-Mart makes from them.

            Again, this isn't about phone sales...
            corporate profits... brand marketing... etc...
            to an investor or high ranking employee at one
            of these corporations, sure... but for
            consumers, it should always be about choice...
            openness... and competition.

            iPhones are only made by Apple. Android phones
            are made by *everyone else*.

            Now that we are finally entering the tablet era
            (again), one should expect things to shape up
            in a similar manner. You'll see iPads... and
            then Android Tablet devices by *everyone else*.
            It is very early to start making comparisons
            right now. Again, you point to the mistakes
            Google is making in the tablet market. It isn't
            their mistake to make because they are "hands
            off". Maybe your view is that being so "hands
            off" is, itself, THE mistake.

            I see it the other way. They don't need to play
            Big Brother and try to dictate to hardware
            manufacturers what must be done. They should
            just let each hardware manufacturer compete in
            the open market. They should each try their own
            angle to innovate. And, rather than each
            manufacturer trying to struggle with unique
            operating systems, they can all use the free
            Android operating system, knowing that the OS
            layer is already taken care of for them... that
            the apps keep rolling in... and that the
            updates will keep coming.

            Sure, the iPhone and the iPad had a head start.
            That's great for Apple and Apple alone.
            However, Motorola, HTC, Dell, and many other
            hardware manufacturers have not been given the
            option to make iPhones and iPads running
            Apple's OS. So, their only other choice is to
            either create their own OS... or use Android.
            It is clear that everyone is flocking to
            Android. Apple is, obviously, sticking with
            their own. Microsoft is, obviously, sticking
            with their own. Everyone else is using Android.

            For the iPhone to truly win, it will need to
            maintain more than a 50% share of all hardware
            when competing with all other hardware
            manufacturers. If Microsoft manages to compete
            well, there will be virtually no chance of
            Apple accomplishing this. So, the landscape
            might be 35% iPhone and 15% Windows Mobile.
            This would leave the remaining 50% for Android.

            One should expect the same situation to occur
            for tablet PCs, with the exception that Apple
            had a much better head start in this arena.

            If your "faith" in the ability for a company to
            "execute a plan" is for them to go from 0% to
            20% market penetration overnight, then you are
            clearly delusional. Real success of executing a
            plan comes from the long haul. Google's plan
            has always been about the long haul. The Nexus
            One was profitable for Google. Plain and
            simple. It didn't let them quit the search
            business and focus solely on becoming a mobile
            phone company, but this was never their plan.
            The whole goal of the Nexus One was to provide
            a benchmark for all other hardware
            manufacturers to strive for. It was also an
            attempt to test an online-only sales method for
            phones. It was never about the phone. It was
            about the store. It was an experiment.

            Experiments aren't performed hoping they will
            "win" or "lose". The experiment is performed to
            analyze the outcome. The outcome was analyzed.
            It may very well turn out that the store
            concept will be shuttered and they'll move on.
            Or else, they'll keep it going for as long as
            it remains profitable. In any case, Android
            keeps going strong... the app store keeps
            growing... and as soon as Android phones
            support Flash next month, you'll see the number
            of apps start skyrocketing.

            Eventually, they will unleash Native Client on
            the world. It will be yet another way to write
            applications for machines and devices. Android
            will support it. So will ChromeOS, as well as
            the Chrome Browser.

            Again, all developers will have a series of
            options made available to them to develop how
            they choose to develop. Hardware manufacturers
            will have a series of options made available to
            them to make hardware how they choose to make
            hardware. Amidst all of this developer and
            manufacturer choice will be the one common
            thread. The Android operating system.

            Apple will be around forever, with their iPhone
            and iPad and iWhateverElseTheyComeUpWith...
            but, just like Macs, they will keep holding
            strong with their minority position. It's a
            position they are very comfortable being in.
            They are the Mercedes of manufacturers. You
            might never see a day where the majority of the
            people on the planet are driving Mercedes', but
            that's OK.
            BIGELLOW
  • Android tablets

    "Meanwhile, the Android tablets are... well... not doing
    so well."

    That may also have something to do with the fact that
    they haven't even been released yet. Personally I would
    wait to place my bets until Google officially decides to
    enter the market.
    Theli
    • Actually they have been released.

      They just are not doing too well. I suspect the Dell's will do better.

      "[i]Personally I would wait to place my bets until Google officially decides
      to enter the market."[/i]

      Why, did their ability to do consumer products impress you with their
      Nexus One? To me, that simply showed how immature of a company
      they are.
      Bruizer
      • No they haven't....

        None of the Android tablets that have been
        discussed this past year have been released. The
        Archos is the only tablet like device thats out
        and its not marketed. I don't even know where to
        get one.

        And why wouldn't the Nexus one impress someone?
        Oh..I guess you buy your products based on how
        many other people buy them rather than how good
        it actually is. It simply didn't sell because it
        only sold online and pretty much at an
        unsubsidized price on the smallest carrier in
        the U.S. We see the phones very similar to the
        Nexus One that show up on shelves can't even be
        kept in stock.
        storm14k
  • Was an interesting idea, but . . .

    Bumptop was an interesting idea.

    It did seem to have some major limitations,
    though. Such as the fact that it only worked
    with the desktop folder, and didn't really
    allow the user to navigate the whole computer.

    It does have a coolness factor, though, and it
    does seem to be well suited for touch
    interfaces. Maybe something will come from it.
    CobraA1