What is Aether?Since high school, I've been playing with ideas about how phone operating systems should work. I'll create a concept brand, a few devices, and then operating systems to run on them. Aether is the most recent iteration of this. This project shows the phone-focused version of Aether.
Phone operating systems haven't properly adapted to large-screened phones. Notifications, one of the most important elements of a phone, are pushed way out of reach. Prioritizing app grids as the main interaction with a phone sets the user up for muscle-memory and unintentional doom-scrolling. Most versions of Android (and definitely iOS) don't allow for much customization beyond the most basic visual tweaks.
For a few years, I've worked on my ideas about a perfect phone OS. My focus on notifications, digital wellbeing, and simplicity carried on to this version. In fact, I simplified everything quite substantially! I also upped the contrast, focused more on establishing a theming system, and refined my design system creation. I knew that notifications had to be front and center, with a small amount of friction (an extra tap or swipe) to get to any apps outside of the most important. This keeps the user interacting more intentionally, having to think more before hopping into Twitter and scrolling the day away.