Canonical were in the mid stages of developing the Ubuntu Mobile operating system for smartphone and tablet when I joined as a motion designer. To begin, they asked me to develop a motion language that would help give the OS a unique personality. This presented a challenge, since their three main competitors, Apple, Android and Windows had already established notable 'characters', and there seemed to be limited room to develop an identity that was noticeably different while also being unobtrusive and utilitarian.
After the style had been established and my motion work had been implemented, my role shifted more towards UX. My favourite UX job was the 'App Switching' functionality (seen in the first video below), which was later used by Apple when they released the iphone 7. I’m not saying they stole my idea… I’m just saying I got there first!
Another notable job that I undertook included UX, UI and motion improvements to the app launcher. This included 3D animations (see video below), visual cues that allowed the user to understand where they were in the app stack and the idea of a persistent ‘home’ button.
The character of the app
Since the pre-existing Ubuntu Touch style was inspired by origami, I decided to reinforce this by creating motion traits that complemented the delicacy of the design while hinting at a paper metaphor wherever possible. One example of this can be seen in my motion concept for the clock application (see video), where I introduce various elements - like the actual face of the clock - in a way that seeks to emphasise the layering of the material. This was particularly difficult to get right, since it needed to be realisable from a programming perspective without appearing clumsy.