By Harry McCracken | Monday, May 3, 2010 at 9:47 am
If you love a company and Google buys it, worry. That’s been my conclusion lately. And the latest evidence is the company’s acquisition of BumpTop, the company behind a cool 3D desktop interface. So far, the news for BumpTop fans is bad: The product is being discontinued and even people who have paid for it have to deal with that nasty concept “end-of-life support.”
I’m curious about Google’s intentions for the technology. It hasn’t said anything so far, but the most logical assumption is that it intends to use what it’s bought in Android and/or Chrome OS.
BumpTop has two basic attributes: Its flashy three-dimensionalness (you can fling icons onto the “walls” of your desktop) and more subtle concepts relating to data management (you can create stacks of icons for related items). I very much hope Google plunked down its money for BumpTop’s substance rather than its style–especially if it plans to build any aspect of it into Android–but I’m placing no bets.
Here’s why: Even though Android is still rife with basic usability issues, Google has been sexing up the interface–among the big new features in Android 2.1 were animated wallpaper and a photo app (based on Cooliris) that shows your snapshots jostling around in 3D space. Neither makes Android any more efficient or intuitive.
If I were in charge of Android’s future, I’d declare a moratorium on additional glitz until the the interface got a makeover that put it within a country mile of iPhone OS in terms of basic simplicity and logic. (I’d also do everything in my power to help third-party developers build more streamlined, consistent apps.) I’m sorry that BumpTop in its old form is going away, but I have no desire to see its sexier features work their way into Android just yet.