innovation & new stuff

iPhone – now *this* is a revolutionary interface


What a great follow on from my previous rant on mobile UI – go read Steve Jobs’ overview of what he thinks of the current breed of mobile phones and how fun they are (not!) to use, and what Apple have done about it.

This *has* to be the most lust-worthy device on the planet at the moment. I’d trade my Nokia N73 in a heartbeat for one of these.

What’s so cool about it?

  • it’s beautiful. When was the last time you saw a beautiful mobile UI? (I can hear you saying ‘never’ from here). The interface design is sexy. Lustworthy. Typical Apple.
  • it’s gestural. There’s one button, a home button, and your fingers do all the rest of the work. Check out the ‘slide to unlock’ in the image above. Forget millions of tiny buttons – you have the interface you need at the time to do the job you’re doing (because this puppy is a phone, an iPod and more!). Forget styluses – they’re a pain in the neck and get lost all the time. Fingers are the input device of the future.
  • it’s aware. It has sensors that tells it whether you’re looking at in in portrait or landscape mode and it adjusts accordingly. It knows when you’re using it as a phone and shuts off the interface. How clever!
  • It does all the work for you. Sometimes it’s the simple things that count. Having spent hours and hours configuring and setting up my new Nokia N73 to utilise all the stuff that’s installed on it and some of it’s capabilities. How much easier is the Apple approach where the device does all the work for you.

Oooh! and that Google Maps integration… I love it. Why didn’t we think of that already?
For a long time, usability and design people have been debating about whether or not people want ‘convergent’ or multifunctional devices. Is it possible for one device to be able to do many different things well? Or will a device always be primarily one animal that has some capabilities in other areas.

Apple has just made that debate completely redundant.

And the crazy thing is that the whole approach is so incredibly obvious. Look at the task that the user is trying to achieve and design the interface to support that. By removing the nightmarish restrictions of the hardware and replacing it with one big, responsive screen, Apple has shed all of these restrictions and with it, all the things we thought to be conventional about mobile phone design.

Sign me up. I want one now.

The only thing I’m a little sad about is how much of a fuss Steve is making about patenting all the cool things they’ve developed for this phone. More than 200 patents.

That’s not very caring, sharing 2.0 is it? (Of course, Apple shareholders might see this somewhat differently).

Check out the keynote for yourself at Engadget (brilliant live coverage, well done!)

(image credit to Engadget also).

So – what do you make of the iPhone?

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13 thoughts on “iPhone – now *this* is a revolutionary interface

  1. This is certainly one killer device. I can forsee numerous people walking into traffic head down engrossed in the interface… Personally, I’ve found touch screens in general suck. They often cause tiredness because of the way you have to hold objects with both hands, one always hovering the interface. I’d guess Apples way around this is to keep most of the input at the bottom within thumb reach(if they’re smart). Still, most touch screens don’t afford the user feedback when actions are performed. I’m wondering if the iPhone relies heavily on audio to accomplish this. Can we expect beep-beep-beep all day long from people entering commands? Gah!
    I have to say the best feature I’ve seen is the multi-touch. It’ll probably mean people will be driving their cars with their knees while meddling with the interface using both hands…
    Definately a killer device. ;P
    The rest looks good. I’d like one as an e-reader.

  2. Now we just have to wait until next year before it’s released in Australia … hopefully by then it will be cool with 3G, given that Telstra is phasing out GSM and CDMA this year.

    It’s on my Xmas wishlist for 2008 …

  3. I think it looks pretty cool as well. I bet I get one this summer.
    Steve had a pretty busy day — those two other products he introduced today aren’t exactly chopped liver.
    And to top it all off, he changed the name of the company to Apple (he dropped the Computer part).

  4. Guess how nice will be typing an email on a sunny day with the virtual keyboard on the touchscreen. LOL

  5. Interesting. A big leap forward. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not Apple will allow other carriers to also sell music to play on the thing – since they won’t license fairplay, I’m guessing the answer is no. That means there will be some carriers (I can think of at least three here in Australia) that won’t be all that thrilled about stocking it even if they’re permitted to by Apple, since they’d be destroying their own online and mobile music businesses in the process.

    So I think the device is great, but I’m curious about how the business model is going to work, especially outside the US.

  6. “…some carriers … won’t be all that thrilled about stocking it … since they’d be destroying their own online and mobile music businesses in the process.”

    Perhaps. The thing is, most carriers are doing incredibly badly when it comes to online mobile business. They are desperately trying to increase mobile data use (data ARPU) but lack compelling reasons to give their users to go online. I would think Apple has two very powerful things to put on the table to offer the operators:

    – Exclusive distribution of a very sexy device that will do good things for their brand, plus lead to them developing innovative new services (eg visual voicemail). These users will be early adopter types with deep pockets.

    – The likelyhood that iPhone users will run up LARGE data charges. This is good for the operators, and worth more to them than selling a couple of ringtones to a user. Push email, some google mapping and general web-surfing will generate much more ARPU (average revenue per unit) than any other device.

    In the long run I see more and more operators backing off from trying to deliver mobile services. It costs so much money to develop and doesn’t make much in return. I think they’ll inevitably end up as mobile ISPs. Think AOL from 1995 onwards.

    Euro versions of the iPhone will be 3G when they ship at the end of 2007.

  7. Sure the buttonless interface is going to be great for some applications, but not for all, and I’ve already learnt my convergence lesson from my camera-pmp-browser-phone, which I use as … a phone.
    (It’s got the same resolution camera btw).

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