Desktop Neo – rethinking the desktop interface for productivity.

Desktop Neo – rethinking the desktop interface for productivity.

Desktop Neo rethinks desktop computing for
today’s people and tasks with a focus on productivity. It does this in three ways. First, it replaces
app windows with full-height panels for better multitasking. Second, Neo uses hashtags instead
of folders to organize your content better. And third, it tracks your gaze, touch, and
voice for faster input than a mouse. Let’s have a look. I have two app panels open
— my emails on the left, and a document on the right. Panels use the full height of
the screen and are placed next to each other without any overlap. This makes it easy to
switch between apps and gives you more space to work with than traditional windows. Looks like I’ve got a new email from Kelly
here. To open the link she sent, I just look at it and then click on my touchpad. Neo tracks
where I’m looking, so it knows what I want to select. This makes interacting with content
much faster than moving your mouse. I can scroll between apps just by swiping
on my touchpad. In my document, I want to make a sentence
bold. So I select it and then just click and swipe my finger to the bottom right. After
a while, it becomes second nature to interact with your content through these quick swipe
gestures. I can also use my voice to interact with the
content I’m looking at. To add tags to my document, I just say “Tag this with ‘Blog’
and ‘Desktop’.” Now I’ve got a second article I would like
to open. So let’s add a new panel by swiping up with three fingers. It shows all my relevant
content on the left and things like notifications on the right. I just enter ‘#Blog’ into the
search field at the top to see all my content with that tag. This includes my documents,
apps, mails, websites, messages, friends, events, YouTube videos, and so on. To find
my article, I will filter the search to only show documents made in the Pages app. When I select a file, a new card pops up on
the right with a preview and some quick action options. I can access all this without ever
launching an app. After opening the document, I can still move
between apps very quickly for easy multitasking. Thanks to panels, tags, and new input methods,
Neo is easy to get into, and you’ll master its interface in no time. It rethinks desktop
computing to help you get work done. This was just a brief look at Neo. To see
and read a lot more, check out the website at!


38 thoughts on “Desktop Neo – rethinking the desktop interface for productivity.”

  • There are many keyboard shortcuts which people are used to.
    How could this interface will get work done that fast without them?

  • Henrik Mikael Kristensen says:

    Wow, this would take some getting used to. I miss an overview of apps, and find that I would very quickly get lost as to where the app I'm looking for is. But not having to manage overlapping windows could be a plus.

  • I understand how look-clicking is faster than manipulating a cursor, and using tags instead of a rigid folder tree structure is sensible, but I fail to see how sorting all of my many many concurrently running applications along a 1D carousel makes multitasking easier. One of the great advantages of not using full-height panels is that, since not all applications or tasks are of equal importance, not all of them have to be the same size. I can float reference images or settings panels wherever I feel like keeping them, whether that is in the corner, on top of my work, or obscured completely by more relevant interfaces.

    Second, there's no clear metaphor for space in this interface. File browsers are obviously imperfect, and using a tag&search style for most things make sense almost all of the time, but folders are very useful for providing structure to thinking. When used correctly, they work like rooms. I work better in an office setting than at a kitchen table or on a lounge chair at the beach even though I could ostensibly do much of my work from those other locations. Being able to do anything anywhere is fine, but having a dedicated space where related thoughts and activities live together is useful for productivity.

    Also radial menus are great and are really common in games and lots of programs, but they are very limited in the scope of actions they can perform. To see the full extent of this, just look at the state of radial menus in Autodesk Maya, an industry standard piece of 3d animation and modelling software. You can access pretty much any action by means of a radial menu, but it has potentially unclear context, lots of different modifier keys that show different types of actions, and can often have as many as 60 options on that one menu (and many of those have hover-activated sub-menus). It's just not a practical option all the time.

    Also, I don't want to say "hashtag" before starting to give tag names — it's an unnecessary and cumbersome word. Shouldn't I be able to just look-click to the filter/search field and start talking?

  • i like the idea of reinventing the desktop for productivity, but honestly… this is not really much better. looks like an iphone interface on pc. and please dont call desktop computer programms 'apps' ?
    the idea of tracking the gaze is great though

  • Nicolae Crefelean says:

    The classic desktop and the task bar are very useful for me. I would definitely try a desktop like this, but by looking at it in this video, it feels rather cool than productive. But of course, it depends how complicated you workflow is. For easy stuff, this design is great.

  • Not sure about other concepts, but hashtags for managing files is very practical than using folders (thankfully Mac OS has it already in form of labels).

  • Ufuk Sarp Selçok says:

    Someone end this "productivity" trend already. Fuck touch and mobile. Talk about touch and productivity when touch technology goes out of beta. Even then, I don't think touch will be "productive".

  • Abhimanyu Aryan says:

    I think its amazing NEO should work for Linux community and NEO write an email to GNOME. Everyone uses GNOME. I am a ubuntu user and still.

    Linux is the future of desktop computing. Please work with Gnome people. Every Distro out there uses GNOME. Design a solid arch for Linux Desktop

    Well Gnome is still better than many other in the race but still it need huge improvements.

  • hm… seems while trying to reinvent the wheel you put some corners into it. What if I want more than two 'apps' on screen at once? What is Neo doing with my second monitor?

  • Very interesting concept, especially the tag instead of folder part, can be proved to be very convenient indeed. But I think you should try to be more inclusive about it, some people prefer one another, so don't be like "hey I think my way is better and the old way sucks", then it's hard for people to accept.

  • windows uses the "window snapping no overlap" bullshit and it is basically the worst feature in the OS, where any time it is done accidentally it is immediately removed.

    You're insane if you think that people with multiple monitors would prefer to be forced into an aspect ratio for a screen. Some screens want to be wide, others tall. Some small like a sticky note.

    You're telling me that if I'm wearing my hololens or oculus, my window sizes/aspects would be fixed and inseparable? LOL. Student indeed.

  • Firstly, great work. You clearly put a lot of thought into this. For the most part, I agree. I love your thoughts on tags and input methods. By and large it's the app management part I can't support. As a designer I often want to work fullscreen and personally I don't see how cmd+tab to multitask is somehow slower or less efficient than this carousel system. In fact I'd imagine I can app-switch quicker with the standard cmd+tab and continue to organize my screen however I choose. Aside from that my only real criticism is your reliance on the word "hashtag." For as often as it would need to be invoked on such a system, a friendlier word with fewer ties to other software/ platforms is in order. Best of luck in your burgeoning career!

  • Very cool concept but there are a load of thing you've overlooked. For example, at 1:03 you select the paragraph of text. How would you select a single word? Or a single letter? Or place the cursor between letter/words?

    Very cool but the mouse isn't going anywhere I'm afraid

  • Povilas Sidaravičius says:

    Looks cool but you did not sell it why should I spend time learning?
    I mean making a change for the sake making a change?
    I am being harsh but why? How much time do I save? How long does it take to learn?
    I don't want to change but if there is math saying invest 5 hours and get 500 in year I will try and will myself to use it.
    Otherwise it will stay a quite designer concept to show of his skill.
    You spent time to create this… and you have not made any effort to actually convince this worth the effort. Does not seam like very time efficient from someone making productivity tool.
    You clearly have the skill to make the design but just not have placed enough effort right now because it's a just thought experiment. Don't waste time do something smaller prove this needs fixing with numbers and make it a thing or stop spamming my feed.

  • This is a good start. Despite the fact that it's incomplete and only a concept, I'm glad that such a different design is proposed.

  • Jordan Zimmerman says:

    Congrats for coming up with new ideas. But where is the research behind this? Was user testing done? For example, tags instead of folders is, frankly, a terrible idea. Google uses this for email and I absolutely hate it. I remember way back when, when Don Norman ran Human Interaction at Apple – they did copious testing on everything and the 90s Mac systems were the result – marvels of human centered design. We've moved far away from that in this millennia – unless you show the data for Neo I suspect this is just one-guys-opinion and not worth much more than that.

  • Cristian Molina says:

    Interesting ideas & concepts puts in practice…just today I was thinking again in a WM with tags to organize apps. FS should also have a tagging based UI. Gestures is something I barely used, maybe because Linux support is not great. I have a wireless keyboard with an integrated big touch panel but unused :/. Keep your good work!

  • Flavius Aspra says:

    So this is like a tiling window manager, which we've had for ages in Linux, ported to Mac and stripped off features?

    Get real.

    Use i3 or awesomeWM on Linux.

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