[Cialug] OT: Apple iPhone and digital media
matthew.nuzum at canonical.com
Tue Jan 16 13:33:31 CST 2007
On Mon, 2007-01-15 at 20:51 -0600, Nathan C. Smith wrote:
> So I saw the Keynote Steve Jobs gave and I have to say I'm pretty blown away
> by the iPhone.
> Anybody else have a reaction to it?
> Must.... Have.... iPhone...... Apple Grip..... To strong... To...
Jakob Nielson's Alertbox e-mail just came out and he always links to his
website, and sometimes includes a rant or two below the link. This time,
his rant was about the iPhone. Pretty interesting little read, if you're
into usability (which I am).
---- Jakob Nielson ----
Apple's new tablet phone finally implements my recommendation from 2000
make a mobile device that spends its entire surface on a screen and
doesn't have the traditional push-buttons.
In 2000 I said "Kill the Telephone Keypad":
It only took 7 years. The other no-keypad tablet phones on the market
also introduced within the last few months.
Feature-by-feature, Apple's phone is not that exciting. For example:
* touch-screen-only tablet phone: LG KE850, NEC n908 are like this
* shut off screen when close to the face: my Sony R1 camera does this
* rotates screen when device rotated: my Canon SD800 camera does this
* gesture-based UI: countless prior art, from Go to Apple's own Newton
* multi-touch: I saw this in 1994
* context+detail zoom browsing: Nokia E61's Mini-Map - same or better
* visual menu for voice mail: some corporate voice mail systems do this
And of course, the most hyped feature, a MP3 player in a phone: *many*
phones have this integration. In fact, music players as a stand-alone
product are doomed, so Apple probably decided that if their best-selling
product was doing to die, they might as well jump onto the next wave.
Apple supposedly applied for 200 patents for its tablet phone, but there
is extensive prior art for the things that matter to building other good
tablet phones. Thus, either the patent applications will be rejected by
the Patent Office or they are for minor tweaks where alternative designs
will be as good or better.
Thinking about the prior art rekindled my pain when the Newton was
discontinued. Just imagine how much better tablet-based devices we would
have had today if the new phone could have leveraged ten years of
continuous refinement and third-party software innovation for
Of course, what's exciting about the Apple phone are two things:
(a) the features are integrated in a single, smooth user experience,
instead of being found one at a time across multiple systems, and
(b) it's on a device with mobile connectivity.
Take voice mail access by selecting from a visual menu of messages on
screen: doing this requires integration with the back-end. It's thus
to do on corporate PBX systems, but impossible to achieve in mobile
without the cooperation of the network operators.
Steve Job's real contribution is his willingness to bang heads together
Cingular to force them to upgrade their network for the "trivial" reason
that it affords a smooth user experience on the device. You could never
imagine Ed Zander (Motorola's CEO) call up the head of T-Mobile late at
night and yell until they changed their system enough to make the Razr
easier to use.
Nokia, Ericsson, and Motorola have many great designers and usability
experts who know much more than Apple about how people around the world
use mobile devices. But they don't get the backing from executives to
force the network operators to prioritize user experience.
Maybe this will change now :-)
newz2000 on freenode
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