Changes are Coming to Tools and Devices for UI/UX Designers


There is interesting stereotype that the ideal tools for designers are Apple devices with OS X and iOS. Regarding UI/UX design — it is explainable. Products such as Sketch and Principle, have great advantages: small consuming of resources, intuitive interface, low price. When it comes to devices, laptops and tablets, items from Сupertino look awesome.

But in light of recent events, such the the launch of new Microsoft products and the AdobeMax conference, that stereotype might be changing. A new group of products is about to take the design market by storm.

Lumia and Continuum

Microsoft has one big advantage — it is one platform for multiple devices. And their main competitor, Apple, doesn’t have it. According to Tim Cook’s interview, there must be two different operating systems.

Lumia 950

Lumia 950

I won’t list different technical specs of these devices. They are not as interesting as the experience of using Lumia, especially the Continuum feature.

It allows to connect a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone to a display dock and monitor, and get a full PC experience. Considering productivity of the modern devices, we can easily work with vector graphics. I hope that Adobe will take care about adaptation of Project Comet.

Continuum and Display Dock in use

Continuum and Display Dock in use

If we talk about Continuum in corporate use, this function is a huge plus. Users have only one device and multiple profiles. Connects the device to the dock, depending on location (home or office) and the appropriate profile will be activated, and user will get access to all necessary tools and services.

There is only one question: what do we do with incoming calls? Bluetooth headsets or earphones? Many of us don’t like talking in the workplace, we like to go outside of the office or to the nearest cafe. We don’t want other people to hear conversations. Anyway, I think Microsoft will suggest some interesting solutions.

Surface Pro 4

This tablet has different configurations and can be used as tablet or laptop, plus it is equipped with a stylus which doesn’t concede to Pencil from Cupertino company. I think that this device can compete directly with several devices from Apple — iPad Pro, last generation of iPad Air and Macbook Air.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

Obvious advantages:

  • Full PC experience
  • Laptop or tablet
  • Flexibility

Surface Book

Surface Book  is the first notebook from Microsoft. Looking at capabilities and tech specs, it leaves Macbook Pro far behind, adding a pad and stylus.

Surface Book

Surface Book

The powerful laptop with magnificent design can become an excellent device not only for UI/UX designers, but also for any person who wants to get comfort from work process. It is high-power tablet and transformer in one.

“But there are no Sketch and Principle on Windows!” — you say. Yes, everything is correct. And at the beginning of 2016 Adobe will have a surprise for us.

Project Comet

At the conference, Adobe told us about Project Comet which can become the explicit competitor for Sketch, Principle, Flinto, Zeplin, and so on.

Project Comet

Project Comet

It is the full-fledged environment for UI/UX designers (of course, vector-based) and it has the following key features:

  • Intuitively simple and very fast.
  • Creation of interactive prototypes.
  • Viewing of design and prototypes on real devices.
  • Tight work process with Creative Cloud products.
  • Collaboration, commenting and specs for developers.
  • Extension of a functionality by plugins.

Also I dare to assume, it will be really fantastic tool. Now I use three products in my work process, namely:

  • Sketch for design.
  • Principle  for interactive prototypes.
  • Zeplin  for specs.

Project Comet will be able to replace all of them, plus works in the native environment with Illustrator and Photoshop.

Windows 10 + Project Comet

A Windows environment offers the following advantages:

  • One operating system on multiple devices.
  • Powerful, mobile, hybrid devices. There is no need to have both, laptop and tablet, from Microsoft.
  • One tool on all devices, without reduction of a functionality
  • One tool under needs of UI/UX designers.
  • Devices and operating system from one company that implies the maximum compatibility and optimization. By the way, it is one’s best cards of Apple company.

And a few shortcomings:

  • Hybridism. After all, tablet and laptop are different devices. And in case of connection of the hair dryer and refrigerator it is hardly possible to receive something useful.
  • Safety. Definitely, Windows 10 exceeds the predecessors by this criterion, but the Apple operating system is more protected at the moment, thanks to UNIX architecture and the Rootless technology. If to provide that on the market of desktop operating systems OS X is very popular, the situation would be reverse.

Questionable Pricing

And how much will all this cost? Let’s compare the following sets: smartphone, tablet and laptop. But don’t forget Microsoft, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book can work as two last devices.

Macbook Pro 13″ starts from $1,299, Surface Book starts at $1,499. Surface Pro 4 starts at $899, and iPad Pro with the same specs are $949. Lumia 950 XL is $649; iPhone 6S Plus are $749

Considering the fact that the laptop and tablet from Microsoft can replace each other and work with vector graphics easily, set of Lumia + Surface Pro 4 or Lumia + Surface Book will be an excellent choice, and anyway, will be cheaper, than a set of devices from Cupertino.

And we don’t have to talk about the design of the Microsoft laptop, tablets and phones. They are awesome.

Instead of the Conclusion

These are only my thoughts. I work using iMac + Sketch + Principle + Zeplin. But with pleasure would work using Windows if there was a good and fast software option aside from Illustrator and Photoshop. We are still waiting.

P.S. A question for usability experts from Apple: Do you really think the split view feature in El Capitan works intuitively?


  1. Ali Öztürk Nov 3, 1:26 am

    Nice article,
    About your question: I actually use the split screen feature just for web development never for design, coding and testing on split view, but it took some time until I got familar with it, so nope it’s not intuitive for me.

  2. HiD3f Nov 3, 5:29 am

    There’s just one problem in this article : the “full-PC” experience with the windows phone is not real. It’s not a full windows version that will be running, only a Windows RT like version, so you can’t run x86 software like the Adobe Creative Suite. Only Windows Store apps and Office suite

    • Nick Parker
      Nick Parker Nov 3, 9:37 am

      Yes, I understand. But I wrote about this “I hope that Adobe will take care about adaptation of Project Comet.” It’s have to be the main feature of Windows 10. I repeat, one platform for any device)

    • Jeff Nov 4, 12:23 am

      For the time being you are very correct. However, with a push for windows universal apps, this will hopefully not be the case forever. Hopefully as developers and the Ump apis get better, we will start seeing better use of this technology.

      i think it is very possible to do so. Of course right now MS is even making there universal apps fully functional. Targeting what they are saying that for now is cross platform feature sets. Basically features that are common across all platforms (including web). As these begin to develop more i think we will really see these universal apps take off.

      Anyway, the UWP framework should make it very easy for companies like adobe to publish there app with certain feature missing or even added based on device family.

      Time will tell if developers really will latch onto this. I am hoping so myself, but we will just have to wait and see.

  3. Seb P Nov 5, 9:53 pm

    Shame that Project Comet will only be released for MacOS. They say that a Win 10 version is coming after, but how long after? :(

    • Nick Parker
      Nick Parker Nov 6, 2:51 pm

      Where did you hear that? If it’s true – it’s fail(

      • HiD3f Nov 9, 4:53 pm

        Heard that from my Microsoft MVPs friends, who are very aware of all this kind of stuff.
        And in truth, you dont need these guys to see that windows phones are based on ARM processors, which means no x86 programs can run on it, just like the old RTs.

        • Nick Parker
          Nick Parker Nov 9, 5:04 pm

          Yes, of course) But I’m not talking about running x86 apps) I talked about UWP)

  4. stefan Nov 11, 4:49 pm

    Are u kidding me… who uses Windows for web design/web dev/ and similar..

  5. Bruce Nov 21, 5:21 pm

    Man if the only reason you guys use macs is Sketch then I guess something is a little off.

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