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Google Acquires BumpTop Desktop

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the want-want-want dept.

GUI 94

TuringTest writes "BumpTop, a company that provides a multi-touch physical desktop metaphor, has been acquired by Google and made to 'no longer be available for sale.' BumpTop provides a direct way to handle information through simple gestures. Some media see this acquisition as a movement by Google to position against the iPad. Will BumpTop be ported to Android?"

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If it's like their other acquisitions (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32135926)

It'll languish for a few years, the main people behind it will quit, and we'll never see it reach its potential.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (5, Interesting)

JidsDB (862865) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136064)

That's what I'm thinking, but I have the feeling that it won't really be used on computers anymore - more likely in Chrome/Android netbooks and slates, although using it to navigate a TV interface would be kinda cool. Placing the different options where you want them, grouping files by type - MKVs, AVIs, etc. or perhaps by program, put Planet Earth in that corner, Heroes, House, and CSI in that corner, etc. I just want to know why they don't want it to be available to the public anymore, because it had a lot of awesome features.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136460)

although using it to navigate a TV interface would be kinda cool.

And as a remote control for an automated home. Use multitouch to navigate through a 3-d interior of your house, selecting the icon corresponding to the camera and microphone hidden in the bathroom or bedroom ceiling fans, and then view windowed or maximized camera output. Options for Wi-fi and/or 3G can allow for remote login.

Also, use it for turning on lights 'n' shit.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136744)


Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (2, Funny)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137584)

And then the little blonde girl said, "Hey this BumpTop! I can use this." As she navigates to the virtual front door and locks it just in time to keep the velociraptor out.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (4, Insightful)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136068)

You mean like happened with their acquisition of Writely? ;)

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (4, Informative)

Zarel (900479) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136408)

You mean like happened with their acquisition of Writely? ;)

(In case the reference is unclear; Writely is what became Google Docs Writer.)

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137738)

Yeah but, according to the summary,

"BumpTop, a company that provides a multi-touch physical desktop metaphor

all they make is a metaphor.

I didn't know you had to pay for those. Hell, I could give them metaphors all day long.

At least with Writely, there was software involved.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32138432)

I think you're taking the snippet too literally. In order to demonstrate the metaphor, you have to create software around it. Otherwise, all you'd have is a few graphics.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 4 years ago | (#32139408)

Yes and there was actual software available. You could download bumptop until recently. A friend at work showed it to me just this week. Nice but still in early development. There is a video of a demo at TED where the creator showed it.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (3, Insightful)

rumith (983060) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136986)

Or with any of their other [] acquisitions. Hell, they even rolled out Dodgeball [now Google Latitude] despite both of the original authors quitting Google, and that was the most screwed-up acquisition of theirs that I know of. Just take a look at the Wikipedia list: virtually all of the startups they bought are full of life and have become well-known products (except those that have been acquired quite recently or deal with things like security or server technology).
Add to the equation the fact that Google sometimes open-sources the codebase for the original product they got with the startup (like Jaiku and Etherpad), and I'm left wonder what else do you want with them :)

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (5, Informative)

ShinmaWa (449201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136364)

It'll languish for a few years

More like hours. Right after they were bought, the software was EOL'ed [] . The "Pro" version was pulled immediately and users were given a week to download the Free version.

Whatever Google plans to do with it, they don't want it available in its current form. This leads me to believe they want to kill it on Windows to use on ChromeOS.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155654)

Or they're only interested in the technology behind the product and just want to integrate the technology team into the rest of the company without having to fuck about supporting, and selling a product that in itself is of no interest to them?

I'm not sure this is a big deal, they probably just don't see any value in selling and supporting the software as a standalone product, only in using the technology behind the product in their own software.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137028)

Its potential for what exactly?

It looks like a more modern version of MS Bob.

It is not a good idea to organise files in "piles" like a real desktop - the more rigid organisation of a filesystem makes it a lot easier to find things.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32139902)

It does not look like this interface precludes using a filing system, only that you can also use stacks and spatial organization as well.

This spacial orientation is very important. Anyone who has done "stupid user" support before knows that users can get seriously bent out of shape when icons change their location, or when files "get messed with" (ie sort order changes).

The "walls" I find to be a bit of a headache, but I can see their use. I do think a flat spacial orientation might be better, but the foundation of the implementation is sound.

What I find interesting about the interface is that it is, in effect, somewhat of a tiling interface. Many geeks (myself included) have gone to tiling or hybrid tiling window managers like Awesome and Ion due to the ability to more effectively use their screen space (amongst other things). Tiling interfaces work well on small and large screens alike, I've found - much moreso than a traditional GUI.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (2, Insightful)

drewhk (1744562) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137136)

Maybe they just want some patents for multitouch technologies.

Re:If it's like their other acquisitions (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32139904)

You mean like what happened to YouTube?

Bumpa da bump bump (2, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32135928)

I multi-touched your mom.

Mommy's boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32135990)

You mean BumpityBoo's mommy [] ?

Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (1, Interesting)

gig (78408) | more than 4 years ago | (#32135934)

It's desktop software, right? Isn't it written in C? Doesn't work on Android, right?

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (4, Interesting)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136050)

My guess is they wanted the patents. We are likely looking at the future of multi touch on android as well as chrome. A lot of this seems to be mutli touch just for its own sake, but some of these seem genuinely useful.

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (2, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136406)

It looks retarded. What is useful?

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136682)

What is love?

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136782)

Baby don't hurt me!

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137154)

No more!

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136746)

Patents? From a little Indian company? I really doubt there was none :)

I think they just acquired the skills.

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136060)

>>It's desktop software, right? Isn't it written in C? Doesn't work on Android, right?

Not yet, maybe.

If Google is interested enough in it, well... Android has needed a good file browser / desktop for a while. I use Astro File manager, which is kind of like Midnight Commander. Decent enough or me as a Unix guy, but not exactly the sort of thing that will grab you mainstream market share.

It looks like a nice little 3D desktop optimized for multitouch - but given that Android doesn't currently use multitouch (I believe it *could* use it, but doesn't?) it will be interesting to see if this means that Google has a paradigm shift in mind for the Android user experience.

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (2, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136576)

Android DOES currently use multi touch, though there is little of it in the UI as theres very little need for it. Maps, photos and browser all support it fine on all modern handsets and several 1.6/1.5 devices as well.

I could see this incorporated as you say, a file browser perhaps. The 3D media gallery included in newer releases is pretty great on its own and would merge with these "gestures" quite nicely.

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137288)

Too bad, regarding 2-panel file manager. Maybe I remember things wrong, but people generally could get the hang of it...and weren't so often as lost in their files as it is the case today.

It might even work nice on a small screen and with smooth "touch scrolling" and "touch file dragging", I guess?

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (2, Informative)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136238)

There is no reason to think it can't work on Android. Android don't have any problems running software written in C. You just have to use the ndk(Native development kit)

Re:Wouldn't Chrome be more likely? (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32139826)

android apps are written in java. the android OS is written in C and runs on linux.

How does this affect HP? (1)

Rossman (593924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32135978)

They seem to have been loving shipping Bumptop on all their touch-enabled PCs and laptops. I wonder if this will change things for them.

Re:How does this affect HP? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136040)

HP acquired Palm, so I would assume that their touch-enabled OS needs are covered right now.

Why? (2, Insightful)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136042)

I have always been fascinated with the "3d" desktop ever since, yes I'll admit it, Jurassic Park. That Irix program, I don't remember the name, but I have made it a point to try out all kinds of crazy 3d desktop apps, but I've found they are largely useless. They look cool often, but in general, they slow things down, eat resources, and usually just sit on top of the desktop instead of being shell replacements. What I've found more useful are the apps like rainmeter and those kinds of programs. Look at all the lifehacker posts of desktops, how many use 3d? Now I will say I tried bumptop and it was one of the better ones, especially the "mouse pattern" ability to control icons, but being a gamer I couldn't justify the extra resource usage. On a side note, one of the random weird programs that I shouldn't have liked but did was some old sonyu program that came on the vaios, that was all black and red and could organize things in a helix shape, I never could find it again, anyone remember that?

Re:Why? (1)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136108)

The truth is, all windowed OS's are multi-dimensional in abstract, you just don't realize it. Every dimension is just displayed as a new window. I know this doesn't look like the "cool 3D" system on Jurassic park but it's definitely a much more efficient way of displaying multi-dimensional data on a 2D screen. Try to figure out how to display 4 dimensions on a Jurassic park system and you'll see the problem.

Hate to burst the bubble.

Re:Why? (1)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136180)

I understand that, and don't think I was arguing the opposite. I was simply saying that my basic criteria is ease of use, resource usage (which includes responsiveness), and visuals. Its cool, but doesnt fit my particular needs or wants, but I'm sure plenty of people like it and I'm sure google can do something cool with it (I imagine bumptop on a touchscreen for example might be pretty cool) So, maybe I had a bad title, but no bubbles bursts here.

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136166)

I had the pleasure of using the original FSN (That is the name) on Irix 6.5 on a beautiful SGI O2 R10k. A friend did 3D and video edition on two O2s for years, and he still has them (and they work beautifully).

If you want [] is a clone that works just fine in Ubuntu.

Regarding 3D desktops, it's not the same concept, but Compiz is amazing (Yes, it's more than just nice effects :D )

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32145932)

Compiz is amazing (Yes, it's more than just nice effects :D )

no, it's exactly just nice effects. no more, no less.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136218)

Being able to quickly link arbitrary tasks/windows with hotkeys would be more useful to me, as such I proposed this: [] []

Alt-tab allows quick switching between two active tasks, but is not as quick for more than two. In the end I gave up waiting, and actually wrote something to do that in Windows (my current workplace is a mainly Windows environment): []

It's handy enough for me whenever I need to work with more than two windows. It doesn't work with all app windows ( e.g. those using the ITaskList_Deleted property ). But I think I'm the only user anyway. I guess everyone else is happy enough with "alt-tab" and clicking.

Lots of people get impressed with stuff like 10/GUI ( [] ) but it would be slower if you actually need to use it for stuff, after all I don't see how it can even switch tasks faster than "alt tab". It's only good for Hollywood ;).

Thought-based interfaces are already appearing, so what would be a better UI than all that flashy animated 3D crap would be the ability to link "thought macros" to arbitrary actions or objects/items.

Then I would only have to think "command" (this would be a unique thought macro - not thinking of the word command), "recall", [thought macro of object follows] (object retrieved), "send to" [thought macro of Bob here], "confirm", "uncommand" (to get out of command mode).

Re:Why? (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136488)

Windowed interfaces have shown us that they can be useful. The problem is that they gave us these windows without a decent way to resize them. How often do you actually drag the side/corners of windows to resize them instead of just pressing the maximize button?

The second issue is that many apps don't resize very well and instead try to take over the entire display, or such a portion that it would crowd out other apps. Hell, even web browsers don't resize when their content only covers a half of your display. It's pretty ridiculous.

Smartphone OSes are claiming that you don't need more than one app showing at a time. This works for small devices, however as these OSes get ported to larger devices such as the iPhone and Android software on tablets, we quickly see that a windowed interface would provide more advantages.

So give us better control of our windows that snap to one another, give us apps that resize better, and give us an OS that can properly scale from windowed to windowless for larger and smaller displays. And keep the task-switching hotkeys for apps that don't conform. There's not much more to it than that.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137128)

Look at the various tiling window managers. After all, there's two ways your manual (corner-dragging w/ edge magnetism) layouts can differ from a tiled layout -- gaps showing the desktop underneath (though technically tiling can leave gaps), which are always wasted space, and overlapped windows, which I very rarely want -- basically only when some app's UI design is so broken as to insist on displaying info I don't need, and thus keeping me from shrinking the window to the information I do need.

As an added bonus, since tiling window managers are targeted at people who value efficiency over prettiness or pure desktop metaphor, they tend to be configurable and laden with keyboard shortcuts for useful actions. (This is by no means exclusive to tiling wms; some floating wms (notably fvwm) are designed equally well, and have similar configurability. In fact, fvwm is sufficiently configurable/scriptable, it wouldn't surprise me if someone with too much time could configure it for tiling. But ALL the lame eye-candy desktops are floating.)

Re:Why? (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136646)

I like your proposal and would like to see it in action.

Re:Why? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32140976)

If you have access to Win2K/Windows XP/Windows 7 you can try it: []

The default uses winkey as the "base key" (since alt is more likely to clash with stuff than winkey). I personally set it up to use alt since it's easier to press for me. Perhaps I should make alt the default...

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137924)

The alt-tab replacement [] that I use supports pressing a number key, using the mouse scrollwheel or just using the mouse directly to quickly jump to any running task and it works very well. The method that you are proposing is just sloppy and convoluted.

If you like hotkeys, it's easy enough for anybody to grab AutoHotKey [] and make their own to do almost anything within a couple of minutes.

3D desktops won't be the future, the ZUI (Zooming User Interface) will be. They work in an intuitive and familiar way like a modern GUI, except they are more flexible.

Re:Why? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32138520)

Thought interfaces are cool and dandy until you get a trojan that logs your thoughts ;)

Re:Why? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32140936)

That's where something like my other suggestion might be helpful: []

Basically instead of requiring users to try to solve something harder[1] than the "halting problem" by deciding whether a program will "halt or not" (evil or not), you have the program state up-front the maximum limits of what it will do, and if the user agrees (or the proposed limits are signed by a trusted party) the operating system will run the program while enforcing those limits. Yes most users won't be good at auditing the limits, but some people can do it, it's much easier to audit a sandbox than to figure out whether a program is a trojan or not. It's not 100%, nothing ever will be, but it's definitely better than UAC, or SELinux.

I doubt I'm the first person to propose this. But it's hard to implement on current entrenched operating systems - won't be backward compatible and secure.

However, if there's a new operating system for this thought stuff, then why not have something like this?

It's not like people should be running Microsoft Office etc directly in their mind-augmenters. A better way to do it would be to have your mind-augmenter being a ThoughtOS on some dedicated "superPDA" hardware. You can then connect it to a normal computer, and your mind-augmenter is appears like another keyboard+mouse (HID). So you can control the normal computer via your brain computer.

[1] Even though in theory it is impossible to generally solve the halting problem, in practice there will be a few cases which are solvable. In contrast deciding whether some program is a trojan or not is harder since you usually do not have all the inputs or a true description of the program (which you have for the halting problem).

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32139972)

Why bother with something as kludgish as hacking on a feature to a largely incompatible framework when a better alternative exists?

We work on the concept of "tasks" and "workflow"; our computers do not, instead lumping stuff together somewhat aimlessly on a taskbar (or similar mechanism).

Give awesome [] a try. It is indeed, awesome. It can't really easily be described but to say that it works well out of the box: it shares many common keystrokes with other editor/tools/window managers, can be used purely with the mouse (as you get acclimated), and is crazy in how customizable it can be. It allows for fairly seamless integration of applications into tasks via "tags": app A can be tagged any number of times, and by available on those "tags" (call 'em views, vdesktops, whatever). I can tile windows in a number of fashions or have them "float" like they do in other window managers - configurable on a per-application or per-tag basis (and changeable with a single key combination).

I'd say going from "green" to "effective user" should take less than a day or two unless you've been using the same UI for years and years and have ingrained bad habits to beak.

Re:Why? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32140696)

> Why bother with something as kludgish as hacking on a feature to a largely incompatible framework when a better alternative exists?

Because it works with Windows and works well enough for me[1]? I use Linux and BSD for my servers, and Windows for desktop stuff. Not likely to change that anytime soon[2].

A few years back I was using KDE at work, I made my suggestion to KDE back then and I think before the Awesome window manager existed.

[1] Helps when I have a single small laptop screen and need to copy and paste amongst different documents, refer to more than one document/webpage, while editing/creating another document. Just click on the various windows I want to work with, press alt+0, and voila, alt+<1-9> get assigned to the various windows. Or alt+shift+<n> to specifically assign alt+<n> to the current window.

[2]There's desktop stuff I use that doesn't run on Linux (and too much server stuff that doesn't work so well on Windows ;) ).

Re:Why? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136292)

Yeah maybe but I should point out that my wife organises files by making groups and patterns on her desktop. She can point to a pile of icons and say that is project X and another is stuff for her family. Eventually she makes folders for archiving so I could imagine her working as in the video.

It drives me mad but in real life I am the one who leaves stuff all over the floor and walls.

Re:Why? (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137812)

It drives me mad but in real life I am the one who leaves stuff all over the floor and walls.

Thats just natural. Don't beat yourself up about it. Everyone has one of those "whoops" occasions now and then don't they?

Who knows how many important people might not exist without a few of those whoopsies? XD

Re:Why? (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136704)

I think 3D desktops fail because they attempt to be a full replacement for the general purpose desktop interface. This software seems to be pretty focused on file management of photos, music files, email, todo lists, etc. General file management is a very narrow set of tasks one does on a traditional 2D desktop. I don't think this would be suitable for things like writing a 50 page manual, programming, graphic design, complex photo editing or any task in which you spend hours staring at one document and one window maximized to fullscreen (media creation and composition), but this certainly looks perfect for iPad-like-stuff (media consumption and file management).

Why not 2D? (1)

JackPepper (1603563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136946)

I never could understand how anyone would use a 3D desktop efficiently. The user can't really move through the space. The mouse or whatever you would use currently does not have a depth function. I don't like wading through files in 2D, let alone 3D. I've done a lot of reading and none of it seems to be in 3D. As it turns out, that's what matters. The way in which I learn and do work is an abstracted 2D technology (fonts, silly). Until the alphabet takes the next step to 3D, I doubt you'll see really efficient 3D desktops. I'm not saying it won't happen, I saying I have no clue how it would work.

I'd really like to use a big 3' by 4' 2D desktop with handwriting recondition software. I would be awesome to annotate class notes, do scratch work wherever, and not lose character sheets. Yeah, you'd be sitting at a table, but don't worry. There's a tablet that you can drag your work off of or on to it.

A little OT, I've seen print in the fourth dimension i.e. scrolling signs, but never really in the third. Who gives a shit if letters have depth?

Re:Why not 2D? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137076)

I don't follow, what do 3D fonts have to do with anything? All my books are printed using 3D fonts and yet they seem to manage quite well in a 3D world.

Re:Why not 2D? (1)

JackPepper (1603563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32138904)

Are you talking about the thickness of the ink on the page?

Open a book. Rotate the book to only view the thickness of the book. You could be looking at the page in four orientations: the first line of the top or bottom of the page, the first letter of each line from the left side of the page, or the last letter from the right side of the page. From the top or bottom, you could possibly read those lines, but how would you read the next line on the page? From the left or right you would be able to read one letter, maybe decipher the next letter, but you could not read the whole line. The information that the eye is trying to find, while reading, is in 2D.

Is that more clear or less clear? Could you give me an example of a font that is read by it's thickness? Can you read your computer screen from the side?

Re:Why not 2D? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32140428)

Sorry, I meant to say my books are all printed in 2D fonts.

Re:Why not 2D? (1)

JackPepper (1603563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148232)

Ah... No worries. It really made me think how one would read a 3D font.

Re:Why not 2D? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137184)

While I'm with you in general -- especially regarding the dominance of fundamentally 2D text -- input devices aren't the issue. Spaceballs (and other 6dof controllers) are quite affordable, and easy/intuitive to use. Headtracking and high-res video goggles, while prohibitively expensive just for tinkering at present, are technically ready -- it's mainly a matter of getting the price down. Hardcore gaming will have to lead the way for these (as CAD did for 6dof) to build the volumes before the price can come down to desktop-tinkering levels.

AFAICT the main point of 3D for 2D text is not to give letters depth, but to stack windows and be able to peer between them at the back ones. Of course, since I'm not a fan of 2D floating window managers (give me a fucking huge screen/array of screens and a tiling wm, please!), even with such gimmicks as expose', I don't see this gimmick really making up for it. And unless one really likes italicization (meaning skewed, not an italic typeface), viewing a tiled layout at odd angles is just weird.

The only way I can see it working big time? Current display systems make a fundamental assumption that windows are 2D spaces embedded in a master 2D space (the display framebuffer) with possible overlap, etc.. Some apps may embed a projection of a 3D space into their 2D window, and some desktops may actually embed the 2D windows in 3D, but a window is still strictly 2D.

Replace that with the notion that windows are 3D (and ditch raster graphics, naturally, so they're 3D surface models) embedded in a 3D space. Now all of a sudden I can play a 3D game (which will have a huge 3D cube with POV-grabbing analogous to mouse-grabbing), and have an IRC window (which will in fact be 3D, but really just a flat, translucent rectangle with 2D text on it) in the game's space as a HUD, all without the game even knowing the IRC window is there.

Needless to say, that's way down the road in computing power, and it's still not clear that it'll be as efficient for most tasks. 3D video-conferencing, CAD, some data visualization stuff, and games are the only obvious beneficiaries. But that's better than stacking pure 2D windows in a 3D space, which seems to be good mainly for dropping jaws, not doing anything..

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137302)

Personally, I can't live without my Desktop Cube, whether it's Compiz Fusion's version, or a decent emulation of it like Otaku's DeskSpace. I use a regular 15.4" laptop screen and there's just not enough space to do web browsing, music management, file management and video watching on one screen, so I just split it into 4 with Compiz Fusion, or 6 with DeskSpace, and that's all the 3D I really need

Re:Why? (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137558)

Indeed. I don't understand why a realistic desktop metaphor is so desirable in a computer interface? I can understand it if you have a huge desktop surface computer, but for a tablet it would be suboptimal.

What next? a house metaphor with different rooms? Walk to the office room to work, walk to the games room to play games?

I like the multitouch operations, but I would like to see if there is research backing this desktop or if it is just cool stuff for the sake of it.

Dupe? (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136054)

I saw this at least three days ago. Either this is a dupe story or I saw it in my SlashBoxes three days ago.

Re:Dupe? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136080)

I don't think it's been on Slashdot yet, but the news is about a week old, so no longer particularly timely.

You aren't imagining things.... (2, Informative)

ShinmaWa (449201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136354)

No.. you aren't imagining things. It WAS on Slashdot for about 10 minutes on Monday, specifically talking about the fact that immediately after Google bought them, the software was no longer available for sale and you could only download the free version until... well.. today [] .

Then it suddenly disappeared, only to reappear just before the BumpTop download cutoff.

Old fashioned... (4, Insightful)

Illogical Spock (1058270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136094)

Maybe I'm getting old (in fact, I AM getting old :-) ) but, seriously, I think all that touch interfaces are great... for very specific uses.

      Yes, to organize "piles" or to zoom in/out photos, maybe it's ok... But to everything else, my good old mouse is still my choice. Please note that I'm NOT talking about smartphones or othes small pocket devices, where touchscreen is a real improvement (althought the phisical keyboard in my Android phone is essential). But for the so-called "tablets"? To read a magazine or newspaper; to see some pictures, OK. But for everything else, please give me my full keyboard and my mouse and I'll be happy. What makes me see two very different products: the living-room-reading-and-playing-appliance; and the computer. Two different entities that will live together for a long time.

Re:Old fashioned... (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136424)

I think touch is a better replacement for most things but for certain tasks a mouse or joystick or real keyboard is better. It's not quite the situation of voice input though where it is useful but much less so than a keyboard and mouse.

Re:Old fashioned... (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32139988)

Why can't they be the same device with different forms of input that can work in concert? IE a "context-aware desktop". Gaming? Use a mouse. Open a word processor? Use the keyboard and mouse. Cleaning up files? Use the touchscreen. There's no reason why there should be any limitation or requirement on a user to change between these contexts, either.

Re:Old fashioned... (1)

Illogical Spock (1058270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32142896)

No question about it. But the Tablets as we know them today (and speciallt the iPad) were developed, marketed and viewed as a "touch-screen only" device. No phisical support to turn the tablet on a screen, no keyboard and mouse option (yes, you can use bluetooth ones in some devices, you can use bluetooth ones in anything that have bluetooth :-) ), etc. The makers sells them as a big touch-screen device, nothing less, nothing more.

We have some cases like you're talking about in the market, but they are mainly notebooks. Maybe we will see someday a notebook that detach the screen and can therefore be used in the couch (or in the bathroom ;-) to read the news or surf the net. This would be a product that (when the price goes down to something reasonable) I would buy. But this is not the "tablet" we know today, this is another product.

Re:Old fashioned... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32146232)

Maybe I'm getting old (in fact, I AM getting old :-) ) but, seriously, I think all that touch interfaces are great... for very specific uses.

Yeah, like a tablet. What did you think Google was developing Chrome OS for? Netbooks? Bwahahahha. The margins in that market are razor-thin. Google is putting together all the pieces for their tablet computer [] . Someone must have explained to them that chrome was not a suitable interface for an entire computer.

It's the borg! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136148)

I hear about google aquiring a new company almost every week now. They should change their motto from "Don't be evil" to "You will be assimilated."

Re:It's the borg! (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136264)

Resistance is futile! They know where you are and what you do....

just like microsoft? (1)

slothman32 (629113) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136236)

I like Google as much as everybody, though late with their "updated" search screen maybe not, but this seems like the thing Microsoft would do.
They buy something and then don't sell it.
MS probably usually does this to remove competition but I can't say why Google did it yet.
Of course I didn't RTA, so I still have my geek card.

Re:just like microsoft? (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32139870)

did you expect google would be interested in selling a one-off shell replacement for windows?

they buy it to get the patents, and the technology. they'll incorporate the technology into other products. at least that's what the usually do. they have a long history of it.

Google? yeah! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136302)

I have a feeling that Google is just a "spoiler". You might wonder why. Could some one remind me what Google has done with EtherPad or On2 Technologies? This is not to say they haven't done anything useful with other acquisitions but the two named above are too important to ignore.

Google, open-source the stuff acquired from On2 Technologies. How can that be bad?

Re:Google? yeah! (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137800)

Someone already mentioned that Google is rumored to be planning to open source VP8, which has been expected since the acquisition. IIRC, the original press release cites a need for open video standards on the web as the reason for the acquisition. It can take some time to open source things, though. They pretty much need to comb through the code and evaluate it for licensing issues and patent issues. They might even be doing some code cleanup along the way to make sure everything is fit for public consumption. I wouldn't be surprised if Google also wants to get the ball rolling on getting it certified as some kind of standard as well as getting some partners on board. When Google issues the press release, it'll make a bigger splash if they can say something like, "This new codec will be open sourced, certified as a valid version of MPEG4, and supported by Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Mozilla, Android based phones, and various major brand set-top boxes," instead of "This new codec will be open sourced. But you kind of still need to use H264 because no one has agreed to support the format yet."

Etherpad's tech has been used in Google Wave for a while, I believe. Google recently enabled collaborative editing in Google Docs word processor documents, using the technology from Etherpad. Plus Etherpad is open sourced and hosted on Google Code.

Metaphors? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136322)

Bloody hell, they're able to buy metaphors now.

Next thing you know their purchasing similes and puns and you wake up one day and realise you can't make your senior investigator in the crime novel you're writing a compulsive alcoholic, because Google acquired the characterization from Cliched Crime Detectives Holding Company two weeks ago...

So I'm thinking they'll call it... (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136374)

BumpDroid... but I had a TOTALLY different vision for that name...

Re:So I'm thinking they'll call it... (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136478)

BumpDroid... but I had a TOTALLY different vision for that name...

Was this your idea of BumpDroid? []

enough manuvering already (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136412)

at first i was interested in google's random purchases, but they've been doing this for years and they haven't really done anything new. their still just a search engine company.

Re:enough manuvering already (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137096)

What about their acquisition of that little company named Android? In case you haven't noticed, the result of that purchase has been getting a bit of press lately.

Bumptop = Microsoft Bob? (4, Interesting)

whackedspinach (1703780) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136484)

I am always interested in any attempt to move away from the classic desktop UI design, as I'm not convinced it is the best interface paradigm. I tried to use BumpTop for a while though, and I just couldn't see the appeal. It was certainly a novel idea, but I thought it was about as useful as Microsoft Bob. I'll just stick with Rainmeter on Windows for now (not that Rainmeter is the easiest thing to use). I bet that this is a patent thing for Google, as I can't see them really designing Chrome OS or Android with this interface.

Re:Bumptop = Microsoft Bob? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137368)

Tag bumptop as "fuckinguseless". It's a cute idea, but basically does nothing to make using a computer for most tasks easier/faster.

Re:Bumptop = Microsoft Bob? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137478)

BumpTop doesn't appeal to serial killers the way Microsoft Bob did -- there's no talking dog telling you what to do.

Extending desktop metaphor, not rethinking it (4, Insightful)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32136496)

I have no idea what Google plans for this software, so I might be surprised. With that said, though, it seems to me that this is the sort of software demo that impresses people who are already expert users of the current desktop metaphor. While that might include all of us who would read a site such as Slashdot, the VAST majority of people don't fall into that category. In my experience, most of them are already confused by the current file systems we use -- and software such as this simply takes the same metaphor and makes it more complicated. I think that what Apple is doing with the iPad (and iPhone) makes more sense. They're hiding the file system, which upsets and terrifies many geeks. Since we've been using this particular abstraction (and the ones that came with DOS-based systems before this), it's natural for us to think in terms of files. For most normal people, I suspect the approach that Apple is taking is more natural. Regardless of whether Apple has the right approach or not, though, I think the next-generation systems require a rethinking of the paradigm that we're comfortable with. It's time to make more of the OS transparent to the user in SOME way. Doing what BumpTop does merely adds bells and whistles (and a cool demo factor) to what already exists, IMO. I don't believe it will ever lead to anything that will be popular with people outside of geek circles.

Re:Extending desktop metaphor, not rethinking it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32138038)

Google is making an iPad clone. I used to work for Bump Technologies In, (The guys behind BumpTop)...

File piles? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136516)

That demo makes using a computer look like a lot of work. I don't want a pile of files I need to sort through one at a time. I hope they get something valuable from the patents, but don't take too many design cues.

Hmm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32136648)

Google Desktop 2.0 anyone?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137100)

Yes, what about it? []

Schmosition (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137376)

Some media see this acquisition as a movement by Google to position against the iPad.

Error. Direct object for verb "position" missing. Bailing out near line 1...

And I don't know if there's a rule against having two hyperlinks abutting like that, but there should be.

Too Messy (1)

archshade (1276436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137792)

This looks awful the demo desktop looked cluttered and I can't see it making life easier or more productive. If anything I think it looks worse than what we have at the moment. I'm not against change in desktops and I realise that sometimes it just takes time to get used to but there seems to be a trend recently for making 3D desktops that just look flashy and not adding anything to the usefulness of the tool (in some cases detracting from it). This is not the first time I have thought this about new desktops (I don't find having a spinning cube/cylinder/hexagonal prism any more useful than having multiple v-desktops). Having all these "piles" on my desktop just seems like a way of loosing things quickly and ending up with muddled files with no structure.

The multi touch looks good though and I think this might be what google is buying. It could just be a way to have gestures for the ChromeOS/Android UI without apple saying that they own them. I just hope they don't take the "piles" as directorys/folders, symlinks/shortcuts and indexing produce a much better system.

Re:Too Messy (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32143372)

I think the sort of interface they show may be useful for some tasks, assuming it has access to traditional folders too.

Take the canonical example of taking photos of your low budget 9.0 megapixel (but 1.3 megapixel usable quality) point and click camera.

You dump all your photos out on your desktop, and begin sorting through them, separating into piles that correspond to the folders you plan on putting them in, or perhaps if you are enlightened, the piles correspond to tags you will put on them, and when fished sorting them, you could mass move or mass tag the whole pile.

Remember that fundamentally a pile is just a nameless folder. with an auto-generated icon. There is no reason why the interface could not offer the ability to name the piles, creating real folders.

Furthermore, there is also no reason why the "files" you see need to be the real files, rather than symlinks to the real files. Perhaps a search command results in a pile of items that respond to your query. The items are not the real files, just linked to them. You click the pile and chose the option to split into multiple piles based on file types. You then draw a lasso around the other piles to group them, and drag them to the filing cabinet, or something like that, which simply deletes the representation without deleting the file. To delete the actual file you would drag them to the trash can icon.

If you think like that you can see how the basic metaphor is serviceable without throwing everything out the window.

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32137954)

/. is getting slow with it's stories. Welcome to early this past week for this story!

go on, take the money and run (1)

slashdotard (835129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32139280)

woot woot woot
go on, take the money and run.

fsck everything else.

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