We’re always looking for ways to improve the Beam experience. Earlier this year, we decided it was time to examine the Beam Client user interface and plan its future. Fortunately, we had also just hired Ben Mazza, our first in-house designer, so we were more prepared than ever before to redesign and re-engineer our pilot experience from the ground up.
Today, we’re proud to present Beam Client 2.0. Currently in Beta, this client is available for download for all current Beam users. We’ve made some significant changes, and would love to hear your feedback.
Our redesign encompasses more than we can cover in a single blog post, but we’ll highlight a few of the major changes here.
Fresh New Look
We recognize that part of a great pilot experience is having an attractive interface to use. We went through dozens of iterations to find a style that is both clean and appealing. This minimalist style employs simple icons, bold bright colors, and clean typography to frame our new UI. This graphical update also makes the software feel at home on the most recent versions of Windows and OS X.
One of the frustrations we often heard about our previous design was the challenge of managing multiple windows. While having the ability to position different windows where you like can be powerful, for many users it ended up being more frustrating than useful. The new interface incorporates the entire experience into a single, tabbed-window design.
Video Layout Customization
Another request we often hear is for “true fullscreen”. Many users only want to see the navigation video when actively navigating, and wanted the ability to make the head video as large as possible (within aspect ratio constraints of course). The new interface lets you adjust the relative sizes of the video displays, or dismiss the navigation view entirely.
First Time User Experience
Next up is the FTUE. First, we’ve added a guided audio/video setup process to try and get you looking and sounding great before your first call. Second, we’ve added a tutorial system to help new pilots get acquainted with the Beam interface. This system overlays the interface, calling out sections you can click on for more detail.
Our previous user interface was built on a platform that wasn’t reliable, flexible, or vendor-supported enough for our needs. We’ve transitioned to a new underlying technology called QtQuick, which provides significant performance and memory optimizations, allows us to use better animations and transitions, and improves our high-DPI display support for those of you on Retina MacBooks.
Try It Out
We’ve worked long and hard on this, but there’s always room to improve. If you’re one of our existing users, we’d love if you try the Beta, and let us know your thoughts, good and bad.
Senior Software Engineer and UI Team Lead, Suitable Technologies