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Proof-of-concept ports Leopard's icon stacks to iPhone (video)

post #1 of 49
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One iPhone developer looking to expand the capabilities of the iPhone's home screen has demonstrated to AppleInsider a working proof-of-concept that implements the Stacks features of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard into the iPhone's Springboard application.

Appropriately dubbed "Stack," the project was conceived back in the early days of iPhone hacks through a basic implementation of Mac OS X Leopard's 'Stacks' feature that allows iPhone users to keep a quick-launch list of their applications in their handset's dock. It was written by Irish developer Steven Troughton-Smith.

"The first iPhone OS device released in Ireland was the original iPod touch, which, then, sported a pretty semi-transparent Dock with reflections. I had known that I wanted to develop for the iPhone OS as soon as it was announced, but it was only on reception of my first device that I saw what I wanted to create," he told AppleInsider. "The iPod's Dock was so alike the Leopard Dock that I just had to try to create an implementation of Leopard's 'Stacks' feature for the iPhone. After some work, and learning about CoreAnimation (then LayerKit) on the fly, the app was ready to run. It was a far cry from perfect, but it worked."

This was October 2007, and several months later when the iPhone SDK was announced it became clear that 'Stack', as the application was called, would not be acceptable for distribution on the App Store due to its nature.

It's been roughly two years since then, and the developer has taken another stab at making his solution more tidy and fluid, and as close to an official Apple implementation as possible. The Stack v3 (demonstrated below) is a ground-up rewrite that turns the plugin into an actual icon on an iPhone's home screen. Users can drag and reorder it anywhere, as they wish, and can also apply a single gesture tap to fan the stack out into a menu of applications that are ready to be launched. To add icons to the Stack, users simply drag and drop them right from the home screen. Stack v3 is now more than just a concept, but only runs on jail-broken iPhones.

"Unfortunately, I can never release this officially, but it showcases one of the awesome possibilities one could have on their iPhone if Apple were to enable a safe and sanctioned way of writing plugins to other applications, or to SpringBoard (the home screen) in particular," Troughton-Smith says. "I can't stand having a Jailbroken device, but it's the only way I have of running Stack. I know many people would enjoy an official 'Stack' feature on iPhone OS, as the several hundred thousand downloaders of the previous version prove."



As can be seen in the video above, Stack v3 makes it possible to launch an additional 15 applications from the handset's primary home screen, or any other page of apps given that it integrates with the stationary dock. Additionally the concept aids in the currently tedious process of reorganizing multiple screens of iPhone apps.

A version of the app run in the iPhone's simulator provides some additional clarity on how Stack v3 functions:

post #2 of 49
I hope Apple hires him
Apple had me at scrolling
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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #3 of 49
i think this is a pretty cool idea. he could take this a bit further. for example, have the background fade out when the stack is revealed.
post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

I hope Apple hires him

Cool.
post #5 of 49
I agree. The most clever functional extensions to the power of the iPhone is coming from outsiders.

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post #6 of 49
While I do appreciate the good execution, I don't anticipate that this would actually be that useful. I mean, even with the stacks it's still two taps. With how it is now, if the app is on the second screen, it's still two taps. And I doubt anybody has three full screens of apps that they use really frequently.
post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

While I do appreciate the good execution, I don't anticipate that this would actually be that useful. I mean, even with the stacks it's still two taps. With how it is now, if the app is on the second screen, it's still two taps. And I doubt anybody has three full screens of apps that they use really frequently.

True, unless if when you touched the icon, you left your finger on it and let it slide to the app you wanted, then it's only one tap.
post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

While I do appreciate the good execution, I don't anticipate that this would actually be that useful. I mean, even with the stacks it's still two taps. With how it is now, if the app is on the second screen, it's still two taps. And I doubt anybody has three full screens of apps that they use really frequently.

more than 2? I have 6 screens, and that's when I'm paying attention, I've ballooned to 8+ before. don't assume cause you only have 2 pages, other people must be in the same boat.
post #9 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

While I do appreciate the good execution, I don't anticipate that this would actually be that useful. I mean, even with the stacks it's still two taps. With how it is now, if the app is on the second screen, it's still two taps. And I doubt anybody has three full screens of apps that they use really frequently.


Its not always about what is used frequently, I have my pages in categories, games, utilities, etc, so I am always going between pages. I have always thought they should have an up and down direction, up for frequently used, down for newest apps.

BTW
I have 7 pages.
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post #10 of 49
Very cool!

But I'd prefer simplicity. Instead of having some NEW interface, just allow us to make "folders" at will. One tap on the folder gets you 11 pages of icons inside it.

Or make it a nice round 12
post #11 of 49
plz, put it on cydia

i'm sure apple thought about it as well, and put it on the road map, maybe this feature would make it into iphone os6. the way they think: "hey, they did not have c+p and still bought it, we put c+p into v3 and they said we are geniuses"
post #12 of 49
Look at the big brain on Steven. Sweet.
post #13 of 49
See......they should have incorporated this for the 3.0 release. I really can't understand why something so obvious as stacks for the iphone/ipod touch didn't occur to the Apple devs.
Its kinda annoying to see something this good stuck on a jailbroken iphone by an independant dev. I almost would have tolerated Apple stealing his idea outright if Apple got the feature into the 3.0 release.
But I can see Apple never allowing such a plugin to be available on the app store as an app to purchase.
post #14 of 49
I would really just like it if you could scroll through the icons on a page.

That way, I could have categories on different pages and have as many apps in that category as I want. The only one that would fill up is games and it would be a lot easier for me to scroll down the page to view all the games than to go page by page. This solution seems stupid easy and obvious.
post #15 of 49
Stacks for the iPhone/iPod touch isn't new. I don't know if it's still available, but it used to be available on Installer or Cydia (can't remember which one), but I suppose it may have been taken down. I had it installed for a while, but wasn't much of a fan of it because the fanning of the stack was a little awkward to use with the iPhone/iPod touch's user interface.
post #16 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by danielchow View Post

i think this is a pretty cool idea. he could take this a bit further. for example, have the background fade out when the stack is revealed.

The UI could have been greatly advanced by such a simple concept in application access. How much cooler would using applications on your iPhone be if you had a scrollable grid (like in snow leopard) that would pop up all your applications, & then a few of your primary favorite apps.

Then the background could be used for some background notification features, a space where applications could post alerts with short messages regarding upcoming calendar events or subject lines for your 5 most recent e-mails.

Having your home screen just be taken up by a bunch of icons that display numbers for alerts is really not that great or innovative if you ask me.
post #17 of 49
Really nicely done. I've wanted something like this and it's great so see it so polished and thought out. I agree with the previous post that Apple should hire this guy.
post #18 of 49
it's like Categories from Cydia, except much sleeker and faster to load
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post #19 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

While I do appreciate the good execution, I don't anticipate that this would actually be that useful. I mean, even with the stacks it's still two taps. With how it is now, if the app is on the second screen, it's still two taps. And I doubt anybody has three full screens of apps that they use really frequently.

How about if these weren't launchable apps, but currently running apps?

I.e., a means to switch between running apps in iPhone OS 4, assuming it supported multitasking?
post #20 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadisawesome View Post

more than 2? I have 6 screens, and that's when I'm paying attention, I've ballooned to 8+ before. don't assume cause you only have 2 pages, other people must be in the same boat.

He's suggesting you organize your frequent applications (like the ones you'd put into the stack) on your first and second pages for ease of access - regardless of how many pages you have.

That said, a stack would be accessible from any page, without having to first hit home to go back to the first page if you're on, say, your fifth page.
post #21 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

I hope Apple hires him

This and more has already been prototyped.

Seriously, much of Apple's OS goes through several revisions of prototypes and eventually get either pushed back or removed if they aren't selected for release.

There is an entire history of this at Apple.
post #22 of 49
that is one app i'd buy in a heartbeat! it would be SO nice to group apps together rather than go through page.....after page.....after page.
post #23 of 49
This wants to make me jail break my phone. Very nice.
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post #24 of 49
Freaking brilliant.

Now all Apple has to do is deny the app, order the developer to cease and desist, and then release a similar implementation with the next OS update.

Done.
post #25 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesWvr View Post

Stacks for the iPhone/iPod touch isn't new. I don't know if it's still available, but it used to be available on Installer or Cydia (can't remember which one), but I suppose it may have been taken down. I had it installed for a while, but wasn't much of a fan of it because the fanning of the stack was a little awkward to use with the iPhone/iPod touch's user interface.

I thought the same thing when I read the title...it's nothing new...it's been out forever. it looks much smoother now and better implemented. I can't wait to jailbreak my 3GS so I can add stacks!
post #26 of 49
I think iPhone's home screen should group applications in the same categories as in de App Store, that way you just click in a category and all apps keep well organized alphabetically . Also, the screen should be flipped up-and-down and you should assign up to 2 rows and 3 columns then you can have up to 6 screens (like Spaces), not a little for your favorites and not a lot to have a real mess. Plus, the possibility of putting any app at the home screen for easy access. We all know we at anytime need the Speedtest app but not all the time, so, that could be into the category, but if you constantly use TiltMeter well, you can put that in the home screen. Finally i also thisnk the bottom dock should scrollable to the sides up to 12 apps, that could be really helpful and a very sweet solution. For me those are good ideas. Don't you think?? \
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post #27 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

I hope Apple hires him

Because Apple didn't already develop this privately? (At the very latest, two years ago)

Love it.

"Apple should hiya dis guy, cuz he would show him whatz up!11"
post #28 of 49
third-party apps...scrolling home screens...rearranging icons...copy&paste...video recording...tethering...these are ALL features the devs came up with waaaaaaay before apple. Let's hope apple keep imitating, maybe THEN we'll have things like SBSetting, Winterboard, Stacks, etc optimized and brought to you by apple...that'll be the day...one glorious day!
post #29 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

How about if these weren't launchable apps, but currently running apps?

I.e., a means to switch between running apps in iPhone OS 4, assuming it supported multitasking?

I'm not really suer I get your meaning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by macnyc View Post

True, unless if when you touched the icon, you left your finger on it and let it slide to the app you wanted, then it's only one tap.

The stack doesn't expand until the icon is released, and quickly. That's because the tap-and-hold interface you're proposing is already being used to allow the user to rearrange icons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissionGrey View Post

Its not always about what is used frequently, I have my pages in categories, games, utilities, etc, so I am always going between pages. I have always thought they should have an up and down direction, up for frequently used, down for newest apps.

BTW
I have 7 pages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chadisawesome View Post

more than 2? I have 6 screens, and that's when I'm paying attention, I've ballooned to 8+ before. don't assume cause you only have 2 pages, other people must be in the same boat.

Don't assume I only have two (I although I do only have three). I too sort by category. Page 1 is core apps, page 2 is information apps, and page 3 is games.
post #30 of 49
I am certain that Apple will address this issue in iPhone OS 4.0, if not before. Currently, the GUI reminds me of the Mac OS before the advent of the HFS. (Yes, I remember that.) For any of those familiar with MaxMenus, a tap that displays the hierarchical file path would be one way to go, but why not have each screen scroll vertically? In this way, you could have 9 or 10 screens with each devoted to a different category (i.e., games, utilities, databases, communications, multimedia, etc.) and simply scroll up or down (elevator on the right side?) to see those that cannot fit.
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post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

While I do appreciate the good execution, I don't anticipate that this would actually be that useful. I mean, even with the stacks it's still two taps. With how it is now, if the app is on the second screen, it's still two taps. And I doubt anybody has three full screens of apps that they use really frequently.

Im with you here. Its certainly cool looking but I think a simple folder access would be more efficient and effective.

For instnace, when you access the folder the upper left icon can have a special icon and be named the previous screen/folder so you can exit out a folder at a time. This would allow 15 apps per page, with additional pages you can move through with a flick to the left. It would also allow for a hierarchal folder within folder design.

Regardless of how Apple does it, it will need to be done eventually, but I hope that using the iPhone to do it is not the only method. I think there needs to be a setup screen in iTunes so you can use the mouse/trackpad/keyboard to move multiple items around quickly and easily.
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post #32 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

One iPhone developer looking to expand the capabilities of the iPhone's home screen has demonstrated to AppleInsider a working proof-of-concept that implements the Stacks features of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard into the iPhone's Springboard application....

Pretty neat, but not a good idea for a useable GUI. Too much duplication, too much opportunity for user confusion etc. Shows how powerful the iPhone really is though.
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post #33 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Troughton-Smith View Post

I can't stand having a Jailbroken device, but it's the only way I have of running Stack.

Odd, I can't stand having a non-jailbroken device. It feels so crippled in comparison it almost makes me claustrophobic.
post #34 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by absolutchrys View Post

third-party apps...scrolling home screens...rearranging icons...copy&paste...video recording...tethering...these are ALL features the devs came up with waaaaaaay before apple. Let's hope apple keep imitating, maybe THEN we'll have things like SBSetting, Winterboard, Stacks, etc optimized and brought to you by apple...that'll be the day...one glorious day!

Your absolutely wrong about this.

Not only because some of the things you mention are actually not being used by Apple but also because you assume (probably because you don't know much about Apple or software development in general), that Apple just came up with the GUI wholesale the day before they released it.

It's pretty much a lock that Apple tried and rejected all of these ideas and many more besides during the beginning of the design process years before anyone had even heard of the iPhone. It's also a fair bet that Apple regularly thinks up similar ideas and makes judgements about whether to include them into the next GUI revision or not.

Seriously, all this guy has done is take one Apple idea (the stack) and implement it in a different place (the iPhone). It's interesting and neat to see, but your suggestion that this is somehow the creative heart of things and that Apple is the one copying the ideas of others is total BS.
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post #35 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

While I do appreciate the good execution, I don't anticipate that this would actually be that useful. I mean, even with the stacks it's still two taps. With how it is now, if the app is on the second screen, it's still two taps. And I doubt anybody has three full screens of apps that they use really frequently.

Agreed.

I don't understand what people are talking about when you hear the comment that it's so hard or cumbersome to switch back and forth between many pages of apps. Everyone says it but it makes no sense at all if you actually time how long it takes or investigate how many apps you have access to versus other methods or systems. Once you actually do that work, you can see quite objectively that what we have now is the most efficient method overall. That's why Apple chose it probably.

For example the average dock even on a fairly large screen mac only has room for 20 or 30 apps on the dock, the less frequently used apps have to be launched with Spotlight or you have to dig into the applications folder which takes a few clicks and a bit of time. On the iPhone, you have access to 16 apps right on the home screen, a single flick of your thumb and you have 16 more. If you take the thing out of your pocket right now and holding it in your hand flick with your thumb a few times, you can easily run through 8 or 10 screens (with 16 apps each!) in less than a couple of seconds. This is wicked fast access to dozens and dozens of apps with fewer clicks than it would take you on your desktop at home most of the time.

What the heck do people want?

It seems like a lot of whining to me, but then most of the complaints I hear about Apple are really.
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post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Very cool!

But I'd prefer simplicity. Instead of having some NEW interface, just allow us to make "folders" at will. One tap on the folder gets you 11 pages of icons inside it.

Or make it a nice round 12

Yes, but this iPhone goes to 11...
post #37 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

Agreed.

I don't understand what people are talking about when you hear the comment that it's so hard or cumbersome to switch back and forth between many pages of apps.

Its not that its hard or cumbersome, but that its not as efficient as it could be. I organize my apps into categories by pages since there is no other method i have for organization. Prior to backup/restore preserving the icon place it was a chore to have to reorganize your apps every time an update came out. Its also not very efficient for my to go to page 8 just to find my games when Id rather have a Folder titled games on my home screen that would allow me to click it once to enter and then choose the game I wish to play. Besides being faster to navigate its also more organized, which is what I think most people ideally want.
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post #38 of 49
Totally useless for the iPhone.
post #39 of 49
Stacks for the iPhone are so pointless I could slap myself with my iPhone till it became part of my face.
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post #40 of 49
Big deal....like this hasnt crossed the brilliant minds of the iPhone OS guys.....

Give me something I can use....

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