A concept for a context-aware operating system that helps you focus on what matters.
What if your computer knew what you wanted to do? Today's PC operating system know so little about us that they aren't able to help in meaningful ways.
DotOS is a concept for an operating system that provides what you need, where you need it, at the times you need it the most. A rethinking of the OS for a more personal computer.
The personal computer isn’t personal anymore. Our computers don't know what we're doing, what we've done, or what we want to do next. The things we do on our computer are just floating boxes that our computer doesn't know what to do with.
The PC experience is broken. Multitasking is bogged down by needing to be good at tab organization. Personal search doesn't work because all your files are similarly named and searching with text alone isn't enough. Manual file management should be gone by now (younger generations, for a good reason, don't even know what this is) The PC operating system was never designed for today's online-by-default world.
DotOS is a concept project for an operating system where our computers know how and when to help us, and do so in meaningful ways so we can focus on what really matters.
The following are small parts of what this OS could look like.
CMD+TAB is one of the most commonly used shortcuts for navigating your computer. And yet, it has worked exactly the same since its inception, while how we work has vastly changed. CMD+TAB still works for one thing and one thing only: tabbing between the apps you are currently running. That’s it.
This was fine when computers only had a handful of offline apps, but today’s PC experience and workflows are scattered within a bunch of tabs across all different types of apps. Even standalone apps like Notion, Figma, Slack, have tabs. Sometimes those tabs even have tabs. A complete overload of tabs.
We need a new way to switch directly to those tabs, apps, documents, and more. So in DotOS, each app in the dock has its own set of tabs, apps, or docs you can switch directly to.
With this new fine level of control you can easily tab over and jump to a specific tab/doc directly from the CMD+TAB bar without having to go to that app and find it. HD CMD+TAB also ranks based on relevancy not recency, which means the things we most likely want to switch to are always just a couple tabs away. And, it never removes an app just because it isn't currently running since this behavior is an old relic of early computing that no longer makes sense to continue.
The HD CMD+TAB Dock also treats people as something that can be multifaceted. When focused on a person HD CMD+TAB can show you related links or files this person has sent you or conversations you have with them across all of the apps you communicate in (iMessage, GMail, Slack, Discord etc.).
To make it easier to know what tab you’re about to jump to, DotOS also has live previews of every tab. You can get a quick glance of what the tab looks like before deciding you want to go there. It works differently based on the app, so for example, in Notion you get a preview of the top of the document so you can scan for visual landmarks that are custom to Notion like File Icons and large H1, H2 headings.
In DotOS, the operating system knows what you are looking at and working on, so it can show you a set of related things it thinks you might need. These are split up into sections called "Streams" as they are constantly streaming you updated recommendations based on your current workflow.
There are 4 main streams in DotOS: Feed, Paste, Actions, Updates. You can think of these 4 streams as a filter on the types of related things the OS finds you.
The example shown below is of someone currently looking at a Notion Doc titled "DotOS Notes". You can play around here to try to connect the dots, or keep reading to get a detailed breakdown of all 4 Streams.
The Feed shows you a list of related things to the tab you’re currently focused on. Other tabs, documents, actions, links, and, updates (notifications) that are directly related to the tab you’re on.
It does this by detecting things about the tab that traditional text-based query search can’t do today.
Who has access to this document?
When was the last time this document was changed?
Where else was this document mentioned?
When was the last time you looked at this document?
What other apps/tabs/docs do you typically use alongside this document?
DotOS take into consideration all of these questions and presents you with a helpful list of related things you can quickly open alongside what you’re currently viewing. This removes the need to memorize and search for what you need and where it is and helps keep you in a state of flow.
Smart Paste brings helpful data from tabs, apps, documents, and messages that you may have wanted to copy something from, but didn't. The best example of this today is when your iPhone recommends autofilling a one-time code that was sent to you via SMS. Expanding on that concept for more types of data across many different apps on the PC would free up mental energy to focus on what matters.
No more spending time trying to remember where that phone number or email address that you saw 3 hours ago is and bringing it over to where you need it now. It's already there waiting for you.
Pieces of data like Links, Email Addresses, Phone Numbers, Names, Files, Colors, Locations, One-Time Codes, Messages, and more are able to be pasted without ever having to go to that tab and copy it. Because DotOS does the work of finding what matters for you, it saves you from having to find the app, tab, and data you need—and that's if you can even remember where it is.
DotOS also maps Smart Paste to the same key you're already used to pasting from (CMD+V) so you don't have to learn any new shortcuts. You can quickly double tap V to access it, then tap V to cycle through the options. Just like normal paste, releasing CMD+V pastes the data—but without ever having to go to that tab to copy it.
Clipboard history is also built into DotOS so you can CMD+C across a bunch of smart items to add them to your clipboard, then paste them all wherever you need them.
Actions (or Commands) are useful things you can do to the apps/tabs/docs you're working in. For instance, with an Availability Action, you could find time to meet with someone by sharing open slots on your Google Calendar and inserting them into an email reply in Gmail that's customized for the current workflow you're in. So, if you are viewing a Figma file, DotOS might recommend to share your availability in a Slack message to your Lead Designer.
Or maybe there's a bunch of apps you usually open when you have a meeting and you want to open and arrange them all at once. There's an Action for that. Simply go to the Actions tab and select the Action to create a 3-way split view. With a browser like Arc, this would quickly add a Notion Doc for notes, and a video call with the designer, right alongside the Figma file you're already viewing so you can quickly get them all in the same view.
Today's notifications are beyond broken. We get them all day long for every app on our devices and there's no way of knowing which ones are urgent or important or which ones we can wait to view later. We try our best to guess what's important to us and might make some Focus Modes, but there are too many edge cases for this to be a reliable solution.
In DotOS, notifications needed a rebrand since they are something truly different. They're instead called Updates, and you guessed it, they're filtered to be related to what you're currently doing on your computer. And for the ones that aren't related enough to be notified of, there's a solution for that too.
Updates in DotOS know what you’re currently doing, what you’ve done, and what it thinks you might want to do after so they only interrupt you if and when they matter. Because like everything else in DotOS, context matters.
You’re composing an email in Gmail to 3 of your teammates about next month’s marketing plan. As usual, an influx of notifications hit your screen within the 5 minute span it takes you to write the email. But unlike before where you can only choose to have notifications on/off, DotOS knows you are writing an email, and can decide whether or not it’s relevant enough to interrupt you.
Types of updates that would interrupt you in this context:
It does this by using data-detectors from what you're currently working on and weighing those options across the other apps/tabs/docs you are using.
But what happens to the notifications you might have missed that weren't related at the time but are still important?
What if your notifications had to face a virtual bouncer deciding what is important enough to interrupt you with and what needs to wait to get into the club? The Waiting Room is for all the updates that aren't related to or important enough to interrupt what you're currently doing.
Using the email example above, the notification from DoorDash telling you to sign up for their annual plan for 3% off your next order would be stuck in the Waiting Room until you are done writing and sending that email. But, since you don't usually open DoorDash until lunch time, it'll hang around in The Waiting Room until the virtual bouncer sees it's almost noon, or whatever time you would usually order food delivery.
The combination of these components is intended to spark a new PC and OS experience that does the work a computer should do and leaves everything else that matters up to the human behind the screen.
If our computers knew enough about what we were doing so that they could help in meaningful ways, we would have more time to get the important work done and, better yet, make the PC an enjoyable experience beyond just a device that we need to use at work. An OS that does the work between the work so we can do less work that doesn't light us so we can get more time for the things that do.
DotOS is a small concept project for the start of an OS that does more for us all. If this resonated with you, I'd love to hear what you think and what your version of an improved OS looks like.