— Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash has the best critique against Google Glass in 1992.
— Moneybox - The Four Interesting Points From Twitter’s IPO Documents
On thing that I’ve learned over time is that bad design is rarely the problem. Instead it is almost always the manifestation of a confused mission.
A web page may have too many buttons, because the business couldn’t decide what its primary goal should be. The page may be cluttered with images and text, because everyone in an over-crowed meeting decided to add their own bit. The payment processing takes 12 pages because of an attachment to a legacy payment system.
However, dramatic changes to a design can be a great signal to users that a change has happened.
This is what I’m hoping for from the upcoming version of iOS…a signal of change.
It is important to remember that non-Apple-developed apps were an add-on feature to iOS. The UI didn’t need to consider how to best handle 100’s of apps. The UI didn’t need to consider how one app may optionally want to communicate with another app. The UI didn’t need to consider how an app would display information without being opened first.
Since its launch, every other mobile OS has eaten Apple’s lunch with regards to the base UI. Android’s widgets, Windows’ dashboard, Blackberry 10’s keyboard, etc.
Flattening the look of apps won’t make a change, but it can signal Apple re-taking the lead in the mobile user experience.
I’ve been playing with the latest Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones lately, and I can say 2 things clearly.
- The iPhone is no longer the best smartphone on the market.
- I would still purchase the iPhone as my next phone.
The Windows Phone has a much better start screen experience, the Blackberry 10’s keyboard is much easier to use. Android’s OS allows for better notifications, deeper integration, and could potentially spawn the next must-have app that would not be possible on the iPhone (Google Now, Facebook Home, etc).
I’ve reached the point where the only reason to recommend an iPhone is the fact that everyone has an iPhone. In other words, it will be the easiest to find accessories, apps, and websites that support it. It is a “safe” choice.
Apple is a cross-roads. It needs to innovate, without losing its core. That means creating a new version of the OS that is a major departure from the current version. One that recreates the lock/home/start screens. A new openness for app makers to use features of the phone that were previously reserved for Apple’s own apps.
More than anything, Apple needs to understand that the best browser, email client, calendar, messaging, social gaming network, music player, and contact manager will not be made by Apple. However, they absolutely need to be the device and OS that the best one runs on.
Apple has less than 2 years (a refresh cycle) to become the best smartphone again. Palm, Blackberry, and Windows Phones can all attest to the fact that one you’re no longer at the top, its nearly impossible to climb back up.
I’ve used Google Reader for longer than I can remember to read what smart people have to say. Today, however, I realized that a part of my mind was treating it as a game and I was losing.
My goal for Google Reader is to sift through the ever-growing intelligence of the web, picking up something new whenever I have a spare moment to read. However, the mechanics of Google Reader set up a different game…whereby I win by bringing my total number of unread posts to zero.
By seeing the unread counts grow each day, I feel like I’m getting behind. Encouraging me to bring down that number (currently at 772 unread) as quickly as possible. The best way to accomplish that is to go directly to the short, trivial, posts. Ignoring (hitting keep unread) more substantive posts for a later date.
I think that’s why I’ve been drifting more towards services like Zite. Services which put the most important/interesting items upfront and forgo the measurements of “items unread”.