This Solution to Phone Multitasking Is Either Genius or Totally Absurd

There’s a reason your computer’s home screen is often referred to as its desktop. The user interface is designed to emulate a physical desk covered in documents and tools. That analogy doesn’t work quite as well with a smartphone’s tiny screen, but this concept UI that switches apps automatically as you physically move your phone around your desk is potentially a great solution—or just ridiculous. We can’t decide which.


Magic UX was created by Special Projects, a London-based design studio, to address and potentially solve the challenges of smartphones becoming as powerful and capable as full-sized computers, but still limited by a tiny screen that needs to be able to fit in your pocket. You can have three or four tasks open at the same time on your laptop, all sharing the same screen, but that’s just not going to happen on your smartphone.

What Magic UX does is reimagine your smartphone’s screen as a window into a larger workspace. Various apps can be pinned to different areas of the virtual desk, and the phone’s UI will automatically switch between them as the device is moved to those specific areas. Having to physically move your phone around may not sound easier than swiping your finger through a stack of open apps, but the potential appeal of Magic UX is how it makes common desktop functions—like dragging items between apps—possible on a mobile device.

As the video demonstrates, dragging a photo from a gallery of thumbnails into an email is as easy as tapping and holding it with a single finger, moving the phone to the email app, and then releasing. Is it the perfect solution to all the limitation of mobile apps like iOS and Android? Probably not. But it could certainly help make your smartphone a little less frustrating when trying to use it as more than just a way to crush candy.

[Vimeo via The Awesomer]


Samsung tried this nonsense with all their “smart” gestures, like tilt to scroll and so on. Notice how many of those features are still around in their latest and greatest? zero. And for good reason. I remember a youtube video where someone demonstrated a head tracking scroll feature from samsung and every time he looked away from the article he was scrolling through, the article would move ever so slightly and he’d completely lose his place. The great thing about mobile phones is that they’re portable, the last thing you’d want to do is need to move your phone in a specific place to get a job done, especially if you have to hold your phone somewhere to scroll through your pictures. I guarantee that four things will happen if someone brings this to market: 1) the phone will not register a place, or will register a wrong place, 2) the user will move their phone away from the place to actually do what they wanted, because no one wants to have to sit in a specific spot every time they want to write an email, 3) users will forget where their spaces are mapped out to, because unlike a real desktop, there’s no indication where your inbox is kept, 4) this will die a quick death as people remember that the way we do multitasking on phones is actually really intuitive.

This is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of, and those robots pitching it would realize that if they could put together something that was functional and not just a mockup animation.