Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

Cozi Central Launches, Families Can Breathe a Little Easier

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Cozi just launched their first product, Cozi Central. I’ve mentioned them before in conjunction with their Chief Product Officer, Jan Miksovsky, who was formerly a UI Architect at Microsoft and is a strong proponent of inductive user interfaces.

I was invited to download the Beta last Friday, and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of cool stuff the Cozi dev team was able to accomplish using nothing but the standard Windows Forms stack. The application is designed to simplify common family tasks, ranging from sending messages to your family members, managing a grocery list, and sharing a family calendar.

As for the UI, it looks exactly like what you’d expect out of a company backed by the former General Manager of Microsoft Money and the UI Architect responsible for advancing IUI throughout Microsoft. This is decidedly good. For example, creating new items on your family calendar requires you to click in an oversized text box, which proclaims “Type here or double-click a day to add appointments.” Immediately next to this is a handy little hyperlink entitled “What can I type?”

By and large, Cozi Central is an incredibly easy-to-use application, with a few notable exceptions. First, on my laptop (2GHz Pentium M with 1.5GB RAM) Cozi Central’s UI seems to stutter a little bit when I first use it. It’s unclear as to whether this is a Vista issue, an issue with my laptop, or an issue with Cozi Central.

Second, tabs in the application simply don’t look like tabs. When I first entered the Calendar View, it took me a while to realize that the labels at the top of the view actually represented unselected tab pages that I could click on. Hovering the mouse over them provided me with no feedback, either in the form of a cursor change or with a hot-tracking state for the control. Actually, I have run into this in numerous places across the application; hot-tracking is good, and more of it would be better.

Third, the application seems to be entirely mouse-driven. It doesn’t appear that a user who could not, or would choose not to use a mouse could interact with Cozi Central.

That said, these are all relatively minor nits about an application that just entered Beta for its 1.0 release. There’s a ton of cool stuff in Cozi Central, and I’m sure it could do a lot for families needing an easier way to coordinate their lives.

Also, John Cook has more details on his Seattle P-I VC blog. Jan Miksovsky also makes a few interesting points about the usability and readability of EULAs on his blog in the context of Cozi Central.