But history shows that dominant players in every era of operating system history have reached a turning point where they shift from the user experience and customer benefits which earned them their dominance to platform integration efforts which are primarily aimed at boxing out competitors.
One thing that struck me about the new iPhone wasn’t necessarily the product, but its presentation. As more and more people have become iPhone owners, more and more people have reached a point where they may not feel the need to upgrade to the newest device — even if their carrier contract allows them to. In what may be a way to combat this, Apple’s language in describing the iPhone 5 seems to be less about he product and more about the work that was put into it and how that work was meant to help you the user.
Take a look at the language below, which was taken directly from the iPhone 5 features page. There is both an emphasis and heavy usage of the word “you”, and a consistent mention of the work that was put into the design of the product.
So much went into this iPhone. So you could get even more out of it.
The only way to achieve a design like this is by relentlessly considering (and reconsidering) every single detail — including the details you don’t see.
Anyone can make a larger smartphone display. But if you go large for large’s sake, you end up with a phone that feels oversize, awkward, and hard to use. iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display designed the right way: it’s bigger, but it’s the same width as iPhone 4S.
You rely on your iPhone. So a thin, light design and outstanding battery life are important to you.
So rather than use the speaker as the starting point for new headphones, Apple designers and engineers started with the ear. They tested over a hundred prototype designs on hundreds of people.
So when you hold iPhone up to your ear in a loud room, you hear what matters most: the voice on the other end.
Let’s Move Forward
In that case, game designers will have to double down on a new kind of creativity going forward: one that harness today’s computing power to empower the gamer with profound storytelling and presentation techniques.
Brilliant piece by Federico Viticci. I couldn’t agree more.
The best games that I have ever played have not been the ones which have done their best to emulate the real world. It has been the games that do their best to emulate a world of their own creation. Jak and Daxter will always remain one of my favorite titles of all time, and I could most certainly say it stands among the most “unrealistic” of any that I’ve played. The same goes for games such as Mass Effect or The Elder Scrolls.
But, how does this translate into how we design computers? More specifically, how does this translate into how we design operating systems? The ongoing debate over skeuomorphism has yet to produce any sort of middle ground or agreement over proper balance. When operating systems are designed to emulate the real world, do they then stand poorly to the test of time, just as a game might?
Possibly, which is why skeuomorphic design must be done tastefully and minimally — used only when it is the clear and obvious choice. The design of an operating system must leverage the creative expression possible within the computing environment, and not simply be an homage to a physical element of the past. Modern computing has advanced society so much that it makes little sense to cling to interface elements of the past. Let’s move forward.
Paper or Aluminium?
The modern classroom is really a very interesting place. It is filled with things that are both distractions and tools at the same time. Most common of these distractors/tools is the laptop. Every student has one (no, really) even if they don’t bring it to class. With it, one can look up information, have a closer view at a slideshow, keep readings handy without having to pay for printing, and take notes.
Well, kind of.
I’ve been a laptop equipped student for more than a year now, and I still cannot decide my preferred method for note taking. It may be one of the hardest — albeit not most important — choices I’ve had to make since actually choosing a school to attend in the first place. Notes are my education in the purest sense. They are the things that I turn into knowledge, which in turn are made into papers and presentations and then finally translated into grades. And, of course, those grades are turned into a degree which is turned into a job which is turned into a bank account which is used to pay for a nice mid-level BMW and small studio apartment in SoHo.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Notes are important. Notes must be taken (I’m not one of those people). Notes are a student’s existence.
When I speak of trouble over the method of note-taking, I don’t mean whether to use TextEdit or Microsoft Word — that isn’t a difficult decision. I speak of the trouble of choosing whether or not to use a laptop at all.
Laptops are quite clearly faster, more efficient, and in many cases, lighter than a stack of notebooks or legal pads that must be carried throughout a day. Pages aren’t lost, command-F works magic, and copying and pasting is at its most useful.
But not all professors allow laptops, and not all classrooms are suited to them. Taking notes on a screen with so much access to distractions is a bit of an issue, too. Most importantly, though, it’s not at all unproven that information is better absorbed when written via hand and not typed via an Apple chicklet keyboard/HP-Envy-not-MacBook-chicklet-keyboard.
But let’s assume I ignore concerns over information absorption and pull out my MacBook and start clickity clacking during my 9:35. And my 11:10. And my 12:45. Next thing you know, I’ve got a pretty solid collection of plain text documents detailing the days lectures so far. Nice.
But then I walk into my 2:20, and the professor has declared that laptops are distractions/communist/alien and are not permitted in his/her kingdom.
I just went from having a day compiled digitally to a morning and early afternoon compiled digitally and a late afternoon compiled on paper. Awkward — a geek’s nightmare.
Can you guess which class lacks notes from lecture?
This privacy is as essential a component in successfully participating in society as openness and honesty; and if services don’t start understanding that, people will eventually push back.