Here comes Cover Flow
As the world gets iPhonified and Leopardized, get ready for more Cover Flow (video), the scrolling interface with forward/backward arrows that mimics a CD collection or jukebox selection.
Jobs spent much of his talk showing how Leopard will help users more efficiently find files. Leopard’s new Finder will include Cover Flow, a new way to navigate through folders. Borrowed from iTunes, Cover Flow will let you flip through documents in the Finder, just like you can flip through songs in your iTunes library.
New Apple.com subnav
In a nod to this trend, Apple is using a scrolling horizontal subnav at the redesigned Apple.com:
Horizontal scrolling doesn’t often get this sort of prime time play since, as Jakob Nielsen puts it, users hate horizontal scrolling and “always” comment negatively when they encounter it.
The cons in this case: Finding a specific app, say Logic Express, amidst the flying text in that Apple Mac section menu can bring on a headache. Arrow clicks seem like they should work like page up/down keys and scroll you to the next set of entries, but they don’t (you see four new choices, and three old ones remain). And while you can also jump to the section you want by clicking on its name, this less jarring alternative isn’t totally obvious at first glance.
Using motion to drop the hint
On the plus side, Apple uses a neat touch of motion at the site to get across the idea. When you land on the iPod + iTunes page, the slider is all the way to the left, on iTunes…
...once the page loads, it quickly slides to the second (and more important) area, Products. (The Mac section slider goes from Accessories to Macs.)
The motion is a nice, fairly unobtrusive way to drop the hint. Still, it will be interesting to see if it’s really enough to get the masses to adjust to the weirdness of horizontal scrolling on the web.
At least there’s more conventional text links in the footer: