Monday, December 22, 2014

The story of young designers and their stunning lock screens

Bored of your lock screen?
Fed up of constantly setting new backgrounds for your lock screen?
Tired of searching for new lock screen images?
Wish that you could see something different each time you turn your screen on?

Huawei's phone gestures and the EMUI Magazine Unlock feature ensure that there are beautiful new lock screen images in store for you each time you turn on your screen! With a huge selection of stunning images on offer, EMUI's amazing user experience starts with unlocking the screen. In addition to features such as an eye-catching time display, camera shortcut, notification icons, a battery charging indicator and simple unlocking methods, the lock screen also includes many novel features such as stunning wallpapers accompanied by text and user-friendly customization.

In the wake of the trend towards graphic design and the proliferation of large high-definition screens, smartphone users now have increasingly higher expectations of user interfaces. As something that users see throughout the day, the lock screen forms the user's first impression of a phone's interface. Despite preset system wallpapers and the multitude of wallpaper apps available, many users still have trouble finding their ideal image to replace dull and repetitive wallpapers.

The product managers, UI designers and app and software developers that make up the young team in charge of the lock screen for Huawei's pioneering EMUI system worked non-stop to carry out in-depth analysis of the lock screen. During this process they developed numerous new features and overcame many obstacles. After numerous brainstorming sessions and heated discussions, the developers refined and optimized their plan, culminating in an innovative step forward in lock screen technology with the release of Magazine Unlock, which has been successfully shortlisted for the 2014 Golden Pin Design Award.

The Golden Pin Design Award is one of the top design awards in the global Chinese user market. In addition to being awarded the Golden Pin Design Mark in recognition of its quality, Magazine Unlock will also compete for the "Annual Best Design Award" in the final. The list of winners will be released at the prize-giving ceremony on 11th December.

Every time users turn on their screen, Magazine Unlock never fails to surprise with its stunning wallpapers. Following its release it rapidly became popular with users, and it has now become one of the design highlights in Huawei's product differentiation strategy.

The Golden Pin Design Award is one of the top design awards in the global Chinese user market. Each year, internationally renowned designers are invited to be on the jury. The competition is split into three stages - the preliminary stage, the secondary stage and the final. It firmly adheres to the principles of fairness and impartiality and enjoys a high degree of credibility. Around 100 products are selected each year and awarded the "Golden Pin Design Mark" in recognition of their quality. Of these 100 products, 15-20 are awarded an Annual Best Design Award with an honorary trophy. The organizers also help the award-winning products to gain media exposure and host global product exhibitions to assist with the expansion of overseas markets.

A total of 1901 products from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and Malaysia have entered the 2014 Golden Pin Design Award. Following a tight schedule of preliminary and secondary rounds lasting more than a month, the jury selected 416 products to enter the final.

There is one common prerequisite for all phone software on the market today - it must have emotional appeal. Of all the elements that played a role in the development of Magazine Unlock - user needs, market research, software development and behind-the-scenes testing, the design concept was the most important.

Design was also the first issue for the Magazine Unlock R&D team to solve. During the initial design phase, the team held numerous brainstorming sessions before deciding on three important factors to judge user experience – the feature must be "useful, user-friendly and appealing". Identifying the need to give users a surprise and a good first impression, the developers also came up with a guiding design principle - "providing a visually appealing and smooth service that exceeds user expectations". In essence, the developers focused on emotional design - ensuring that users continue to have an enjoyable experience beginning with the first time they use the product.

The birth and growth of any new idea is the result of a long, complicated and often arduous process. According to the product manager Deng Junjie and the development team, Magazine Unlock was developed from scratch. It was not as simple as optimizing a particular function - there were numerous technical difficulties to overcome. Gao Zhang's lock screen R&D team began by assessing the workload involved and various technical solutions available. In addition to finding a solution for developing a server, they also had to find a source of high-definition wallpapers that could be updated every day. Qian Kai, Lei Hao and Liu Min from the UI design department and Huang Xiaoping from the planning department started to discuss the plan. Countless discussions were held and numerous assessments were made of the initial plan before deciding on the final design strategy.

The development process concerned numerous aspects - a lock screen, theme, gallery and server were required; there were cooperation issues with third-party content providers and other difficulties such as unlock animations, minimizing RAM usage and optimizing update methods. In order to overcome these difficulties, the R&D team worked late into the night and over the weekend; the testing team was stretched to the limit with countless tests, and the planning and design teams thought of every means possible to ensure the plan's smooth implementation.

For example, in order to ensure that text would stand out on the lock screen a blurring algorithm was required. Blurred effects are common in iOS, but this was the first attempt to use blurred effects in Android. In order to determine how to achieve natural blurred effects, the R&D team, user experience department and design department began by joining forces to carry out in-depth research into iOS, including blurred algorithms (Gaussian blur) and blurred overlay (transparency, saturation and crispness). The biggest challenge with image algorithms is performance - a full HD image on a phone has over 8 million pixels, requiring millions of computations.

The unlock animation looks like an opening curtain - if you have set a live wallpaper for your home screen, you will see a blurred effect when you open the curtain half way. This was just one of many difficulties that were encountered - proving that success can only be achieved through innovation, perseverance and enhancing user experience.

1 comment:

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