Snap the Start Screen into a Menu

Friday, 22 February 2013

Snap combined with the ability to swipe in apps makes multitasking pretty intuitive in Windows RT. But it could be better. At the moment, you can only swipe in apps that are already open. And you can only launch apps from the Start screen (unless you use the "Search" charm when on another app). Both make perfect sense and shouldn't change.

The problem I have is that the Start screen can't be snapped and must always be in full-screen. This means if I've two apps snapped and wish to launch a third, I need to return to the Start screen and open it from there. This is more reminiscent of iOS. There, the Home screen plays a more prominent role when multitasking; you use it as a springboard to jump in and out of apps. In WinRT, on the other hand, snap and the swipe in gesture reduce the need to leave an app to resume another. And that's why I consider WinRT's Start screen to be more of a launcher than switcher. Allow the Start screen to be snapped though and it can be both. 

A Start screen snapped to 320 horizontal pixels can't really be described as a screen anymore. A menu would be a more accurate label. But a Start screen that intelligently transforms into a modern Start menu may not be such a bad idea considering the alternatives.