Tablet Fun and Games

I've had a little time to play with my ExoPC tablet kindly provided by Intel, and after a brief look at the MeeGo/Intel tablet UX decided that Plasma Active was the way to go (sorry Intel!). The MeeGo UX is far from complete and the lack of applications made the tablet next to useless for anything besides basic web-surfing. Plasma Active, on the other hand, is a full openSuse and KDE install and so has many apps to play with. Plasma Active itself is remarkably usable already and has some nice features that actually work the way I expect a tablet to function. It's amazing how far the Active team has come in such a short time and that's a tribute to both the Plasma architecture that Aaron put in place and the flexibility of our Platform/Frameworks. If only Intel had approaced KDE first...

The compelling story here is that all our apps run straight out-of-the-box (albeit not all touch friendly yet), a ready made app 'eco-system' that we don't need to bribe developers to foster. It's amazing how usable many of our KDE apps are by default, many apps will take only a few modifications to be fully usable and I look forward to the necessary standards/guidelines to come out of the Active project so we get a consistent experience. If we just had some way to trigger a right mouse click even more apps would become usable (e.g. KMines), could we map a long-click for this?

We've just had a long holiday weekend here in the UK and I spent the time in a French farmhouse somewhere in Normandy with some friends and their four children aged between 5 and 12. We may have been berift of net access, but the tablet was fully loaded with edu apps and games and was given a through going-over, err I mean usability test by all the children. It took a single demo from me of how to find and launch apps and they were away, proving just how usable Active is: if a 5 year-old can get it with a 3 second explanation I'm sure most adults will too. A tablet works really well in the context of a group of children playing together, they happily sat around the tablet playing Blinken or KHangman together, rather than arguing over who's next to play Angry Birds on the iPhone. The 5 year-old even demanded his parents install some of the games on their iPad :-) As annma put it on the kdeedu mailing list, a tablet is a ready-made babysitter :-)

Many of our edu apps and games just work and need no real changes, others are a little awkward needing right-clicks or with the virtual keyboard covering entry boxes, but I know both teams are looking at ways to redesign their gui's to work better on all formats. For edu apps aimed at the 3-10 years age-group I think the touch style interfaces with all the required tools visible in the main window is actually a good fit for all the formats. If you want to try your hand at designing new QML based ui's for existing apps then drop in on the kdeedu list, I'm sure they would welcome the help.

Also a big hit for all ages were TuxPaint and Micropolis, two apps we currently don't have equivalents for. TuxPaint should come as no surprise, but for a 20 year old piece of software Micropolis worked amazingly well, probably aided by pre-dating the coming of RMB context menus. If anyone is looking for a more substantial project to work on then these would be good candidates. TuxPaint is a lot of fun but doesn't play well on non-standard screen resolutions and the gui is non-standard, perhaps someone wants to do a Kids mode for KolorPaint? Micropolis apparently has all the backend logic separated out into a C++ module and can use Cairo as a canvas, but seriously needs a modern gui.  Surely it can't be too hard for someone to switch it to a Qt-based canvas and gui?

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Plasma Active and KDE Edu is a brilliant combination

 

I can confirm your experience. My 5 and 3 yo kids could play with sebas plasma active tablet for a view minutes and they could handle it quite well. Also TuxPaint is their favorite application at the moment.

 

 

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