Sailfish UI Mapping: Potential Improvements?

Firstly, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Jolla for this fantastic product you’ve made for us and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying getting to know it over the past few days- there’s a certain organic quality to both the handset and Sailfish which feels #unlike any other! :-D

Having had just over 2 days to play with my Jolla now, I feel like I’m really getting to know the UI pretty well and have therefore come up with some suggestions that I’d like to put to you guys and Jolla if I may.

Firstly, I’ve done a rough schematic of the current UI layout for you below which IMO could benefit from a little tweaking to get the best out of what is proving to be an otherwise excellent allround ‘beta’ UI.

So here is the current layout for reference:

Current Sailfish UI

So there is the current layout which again, from my perspective, could do with some slight tweaking to provide the user quicker access to the ‘important’ features already running on Sailfish which we tend to access all the time.

The first area where I feel is slightly lacking is the ‘lockscreen’ which is quite sparse in terms of both information and interaction.  The lockscreen is a great would-be canvas to fill some really useful elements which could save the trouble of delving deeper into the phone if you were able to glance following a double tap.  So, in order to add more value to the lockscreen, i’ve included a weather widget, more interactivity with the notification icons and added network/battery status icons at the bottom right of the screen which would allow to completely remove the ‘floating’ area where they currently reside.  Something like a flashlight icon (tap icon to turn on LED) on the lock screen would also be highly desirable. ;-)  I would also add the ambience option to the pulley menu here for quick access.

The next areas which I feel are honestly quite redundant at the moment are the 2 ambience screens accessed from a swipe either left/right of the homescreen.  These two areas offer an amazing opportunity to provide short cuts to the things you use a lot ie. message hub; email; browser etc.  My initial thought would be that these (if possible) could be customised according to user preference.  Failing that, I would most probably opt for the message hub on the right and email inbox on the left of the home screen.  Ambience can already be changed directly in the gallery so we wouldn’t lose out there and as suggested I would add the ‘ambience’ option to the lock screen pulley menu as well for quick access to ambience profiles.  Maybe another better option would be to make one of these spaces to open the android browser which would hold all your running android apps ?  I guess if the 2 screens were customisable you could pick what you wanted!

The final area which I can see will start to get very long winded over time is the app area.  For example if you are the kind of person who likes hundreds of apps on your phone, you could be vertically scrolling for a few days before you find the app you need (ok that’s an exaggeration but you get my point!).  The simple answer to this which I’m sure Jolla are working on would be a ‘folder’ system like we had on the N9 and many other smartphones.  Apps can simply be organised into folders with a user-specified name for each folder.

Otherwise, both the homescreen and the notifications screen (accessed via swipe from bottom in any screen) would remain completely unchanged.

Anyway, here is a rough mockup so you can visualise the general idea:



Anyway, like I say, this is just one persons rough concept idea for finely tuning the general UI map – perhaps you have a better idea, that you feel could be implemented ?

Aside from a few beta bugs here and there which we are currently listing in our community port if you’d like to contribute your experiences, the overall UI experience is fantastic – well done and thank you Jolla!!

Let me know what you guys think –

Sail On…




Chief Editor at JollaTides
Here to spread word about Jolla and Sailfish OS.

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  1. I would love to be able to customize the interactive cover actions of running apps.

    I’m really considering to place an order. I like Jolla because it’s an alternative to privacy invading phones. The only thing that’s holding me back is the android compatibility. In what extend will Jolla provide control/information about permissions for (android) apps?

    • That’s because those icons don’t actually show on the main lockscreen. They only appear when you either swipe down from the lockscreen or up from the homescreen.

      This small ‘floating’ area vertically between lockscreen and homescreen (where they currently live) is unnecessary if you have those icons implemented into the main lockscreen as per the concept idea. ;-)

      But I see your point – perhaps I should have shown those in the current schematic as well…

    • Exactly! :-) I’m running down 2 pages of apps now only after 2 days and I can see without a folder option, there will be lots of vertical scrolling!

  2. Great design. Right now I have only one Ambience as a favourite, to prevent the side screens with the Ambiences. So swipes to the side are useless for me now.

    Thinking of it, a quick choice between Ambiences might be useful. On old Nokias (6310i was it?) you could press the power button shortly, and a pulldown menu showed with Silent, Outside, etc. I wouldn’t mind Ambiences like Car (loud ringtone), Meeting, …

  3. I’ve just redesigned the weather app so it fits slightly better on the lockscreen and added the extra floating part as @Kaacz suggested needed adding. ;-)

    @rob_kouw: something like the ambiences/profiles could be changed from the top pulley menu in the lock screen which I believe is customisable anyway. ;-)

    EDIT: On second look, I don’t think that pulley menu is customisable (seems it’s the one in the settings menu I was getting confused with), so in which case, I would add a profile/ambience option at the pulley menu on the lock screen (in fact there is already an option there to switch the phone to ‘silent’). That way, you would still be able to access the ‘ambience’ feature from either the lockscreen pulley menu or the gallery.

  4. +1 all round, agree 100%! Very well explained too, even before getting to concept pics.

    The ambiance shortcuts are almost comical. I appreciate that Jolla want to highlight this feature, although I got the impression it was more about changing the use of of special Other-Halves. e.g. Fancy looking covers sold or given away to promote a new album/movie, permitting access to exclusive content, plus of course exclusive UI ambiance.

    So if this is the case (or even not) I really don’t see the benefit to use up 1, let alone 2 valuable shortcuts within the UI.

    I really hope we are given the option to modify BOTH left/right shortcuts. Personally I would set these to email & messaging too, although for right now I’d set one to launch an Android app store, and the other SongPop (I can finally play this addictive Android game!!).

    • Thanks for the input – I personally think (if it were at all possible), it would make Sailfish 100% complete as an OS. Those spaces are just ripe for doing something like this IMO. :-)

  5. In my opinion one should be able to customize the ‘shortcuts’ of the over the edges swiping gestures to personal preferences. Especially in home and lockscreen.

    • I mean not just the 2 ambience shortcuts, but the other ones too. Like user choses from which direction the notification screen is opened and so on. some might not need to close apps from both sides, but want something always accesable really fast.

  6. Great design! I had similar opinions about the Lock Screen – why couldn’t the notification icons work as shortcuts/launchers as well..? But there is a point… If they would, You wouldn’t have a stabil screen. And You need one.

    It’s good the Lock Screen works as info center; weather widget is great, so is the new arrangement with battery icon and the other sysinfo icons – all visible with one look. Implementing the Ambience-switcher in the pulley menu would make things a lot smoother and give possibility to add custom screens to be accessed from the multitasking view by swiping in from either side – exactly as You propose.

    Folders – yes, they are a must have -feature. Maybe even subfolders to keep your phone organized..

  7. Maybe I’ve spent too long with an N9 but I’d rather they let us decide between the current vertical stack of of screens and arranging them horizontally like the N9.

    The ambiance screens are given too much importance for something you might use once in a while and they need edge swipes to get rid of them again whereas the vertical panels use in-screen swipes. They seem a bit tacked on to show off a flashy feature. Stick them in the pulley menu.

    I’ve accidentally swiped the notification screen up into view a fair few times also when I meant to scroll through the 3 panels. It’s particularly common for me to do that when scrolling through the icons (now on two screens).

    • I’m now used to the change in layout and feel it actually could offer more than the N9 did but it’s taken a few days of obsessively using it to break that habit! :-P

      I agree with everything else and at first found that some of the swipe gestures are duplicated here and there for different things but after some time understand it better.

      What really helped was realising that, for example, pulling down from the top when you want to access a pulley menu, you can do from much lower down the screen – actually you can do it from right near the bottom of the screen! Whereas to exit an app (also swiping down), it has to be done right at the top edge of the screen.

      The same can be said for your example eg. accessing the app drawer (swiping up) can be achieved even near the top of the screen whereas accessing notifications (same gesture again) has to be right from the bottom edge.

      Once I got my head round that, navigating became a whole lot easier! :-)

  8. Retro, I know, but what I really like about my 5800 (yes, that old thing…) is the diary on the home screen.

    I don’t want to hunt for my agenda – and I’d prefer an analogue clock

  9. I tentatively agree with all of this. Ambiance is being made way too big a deal of with the left right screens, those should be reserved for the basics like you have there i.e. email and messages.
    Also when they start releasing sailfish images for various android devices the Myriad android buttons should be transferred to the actual buttons on the phone and we should be able to purchase a license to run the Myriad on our android device maybe on the Jolla store.

    • What about the “sleepmode” ? Are you able to have any kind of information to it ? Clock example ? or is it just black screen. Got my Jolla yesterday

  10. I fully agree. Too much priority has been laid on ambiance and changing the look of the UI. It woul be better to emphasize usability for important tasks. The concentration on making the OS look clean and uncluttered has, in my opinion, had negative impact on usability.

    For one, as you pointed out, the lock screen at present is useless and annoying. It offers little information compared to rival OS’s where you have plenty of customization.

    Second, the cool innovation: pulley menu. I love it but not everything should be hidden and accessed by peeking and pulling. It irritates me that I have to pull to see the date, that I have to pull to view the battery level. Make them visible together (time and date). The lock screen pulley menu should really have a flashlight option.

    I’d also love to see my appointments and events on the notification view. Similar to the N9.

    And then, active covers. Love ‘em. But I think one could get more out of them. For one, if only one app is open it could be a bigger cover taking up the entire space. With two, they would divide the space (horizontally). With three you’d get the same size as now. What do you guys think?

    The order could also start from the bottom of the scree (bottom left to upper right). It would be easier to access with the screen being as big as it is.

    Any comments on these ideas?

  11. @Peter @Nizar resizing of covers would be a great addition with regards to the power user but would have to have limits and kept simple or could become overwhelming and confusing, i had a similar idea about the resizing of app covers specifically for any app showing video with something like a pinch gesture to enable better multitasking and i posted an image of the concept in the forums here and sent to jolla themselves.

    • its abit crudely down but it gives you the idea and the thought behind the feature, its posted in the community forum under the “The REALLY important future additions/improvements” thread. i dont think i mentioned that a simple pinch gesture could also be used there though as i did to jolla.

  12. jolla should just remove the ambience switcher which is very confusing for average joe if they want to impress them.

    of course keep and hide the switcher in the “advanced” setting menu.

    btw, i like your idea

    • you all people forgot the key to success, make the homescreen as simple and basic as possible.

      i think that is why they show you max 9 covers in homescreen.

  13. how do you get the right/left ambiance screens? my jolla does non of these two, in fact where does the changing of the ambiance take place?
    I like this jolla but I feel it needs much more work.!!!

    • You have to add images to your favourite ambience images for those two screens to appear.

      You do this in the gallery area, then click ‘ambience’ then click on an image you want and ‘star’ it as a favourite and save it to appear there. ;-)

      We’ve started some threads in our forum for improvements – feel free to share your experiences there and who knows there may already be some solutions to the problems you’ve found. ;-)

  14. p.s I like the simplicity.
    I think in your design it begins to look too much android[sorry I do not mean to be offensive….]

    P.p.s-> there are two more things needed sorted out if jolla is to make it more then the community of developers and geeks namely
    1) native apps
    2) a good manual.
    Because many people will not be able to pass the first period without much frustration.

    Beside the concept which is great, Jolla has been remarkable in their marketing since they first thought about the project, i think they should soon put their remarkableness into being unlike in apps and the giving of practical experience to people.

    it might be because it is early days, but I very sadly begin to think about going back to my Galaxy Note 2. I cringe as I write this.
    Not because i like it- i quite despise it- but simply because it works and it is functional.

    so Jolla please do your best.
    The one who doont know much about mobile phones….

  15. On the UI exclusively (not going through current bugs) there’s something a little strange for me, it’s the swipe from top to bottom.
    Can’t really know when I’m doing that within an app Ii it will end up darking the screen or closing the app. And sometimes there’s the pulley menu also (not always displaying when you count for it).
    I don’t really know how to improve but for me it’s quite confusing.
    I think, ambiance could be accessible only swiping left or right on the first screen (lock screen), elsewhere, swiping to left could be the event manager, swiping to right, reducing the app (or from bottom like in BB10). Then, swiping from the top would always produce same result (switching off the screen).
    Only my thought anyway.

  16. This is a good suggestion. I have ambience to both side of the lock screen in addition to the home screen. If the lockscreen cant have active icons on it, maybe it would be possible to have them to the sides.
    One design problemd are the buttons drawn on screen. I thought I had to drag them up or down, not press them. When answering a call I cant press the button but have to swipe instead.
    The buttons should look like buttons and interacting with the buttons should be.done by pressing. when swiping is wanted/needed the “dotted line” could be used.

    sent from my Jolla, not from an iJail.

  17. So much for the minimalistic scandinavian design. The weather widget (widgets in general) are a big no no! ;-).

    But I like your idea of having the battery and network status visible on the lockscreen. Also interactivity on the notifications icons is a good idea.

    The ambience screens are indeed unnecessary, but I would just disable the swipe left-right alltogether because it will confuse new users. Keep it simple.

    Personally I would also show a message like “No open apps yet, swipe down for a complete list of your apps” on the second screen, so it doesn’t feel too empty when there aren’t any apps opened. It’s also guidance for new users.

    Maybe a tiny arrow to show the direction users can swipe on a multitask app shortcut could come in handy as well. The arrow could be integrated in the icon itself.

    Jolla needs to be helpful towards new (non techie) users, guide them, inform them constantly within the OS with visual clues and text. Else a lot of users will get frustrated and will give up. I’ve seen enough people in the store get angry at a BB z10 because they don’t know how to unlock the device or close an application..

    These are all my personal opinions of course.

  18. The ambience screen in both sides is redundant, i think is better option to change the ambience directly from the gallery,keep one swype to a personalizable hub and the other to increase the multitasking apps represented in the screen (scroll left or right) in order to have more than nine represented.

  19. Am I the only one who actually uses the ambiences for something? I use custom ambiences to quickly switch between vibrate-only / ring-for-calls-only / all sounds / loud operating modes. So for me it would be a massive inconvenience to go through the Gallery every time.

    However, I don’t need four places to quickly switch ambiences, one or two is enough. I could live with having the ambience select screen from either the lock or home screen and other functions from the other one.

  20. I like the concept…I have a few questions. Why is it that every time you open an app it takes you to the multi tasking screen and then it loads in full screen? Also the notification swipe from bellow seems to be an overlap of the lock screen. I liked the feeds view on the N9, it was definitely more informative, maybe they can incorporate that to sailfish. I only wish they would release it downunder:(

  21. Yes. I’d very much like to see widgets and the possibility to select other screens than the ambinece, like you suggest!

    Another thing I want to suggest, is some way to get back directly to the screen you left off when locking the phone. It is a bit annoying to first unlock, then selecting tha app.
    But why not have it both? Double-tap to open like it is now AND i.e triple-tap to open the app you were in when the screen locked.