What’s with the hexagonal honeycomb style application icon layout in the new Windows Mobile 6.5 leaked screenshots we’ve seen? Was this design implemented purely for the sake of being different? What’s the point?
Well, there actually is a point. If you’ll notice, there are no more scrollbars in the honeycomb interface. However, with the hexagon-shaped grid layout, you are easily able to recognize a pattern to the layout and instantly see that the pattern continues towards the bottom of the screen. That visual cue should indicate to users that they can pan in that direction in order to see more icons. The areas where the hexagonal grid pattern do not continue are obviously the limits to the content dimensions.
Most other touch-scrolling smartphone operating systems really don’t take these kinds of usability issues into account. Android and the iPhone’s scrollable lists really have no visual indication that they are continuous since the lists simply stop at the bottom of the screen. Microsoft’s design makes it instantly clear to new users that this pattern can be panned.