The Current and Future State of the iPhone: Let’s get Started
A Rant: At the Core
The original iPhone was a wild one; it sparked a revolution for mobile devices and tech gadgets the world-over, and the ensuing ripples can still be felt to this day. The touchscreen UI proved that there was still much to be done in terms of technological advancement, and brought upon the market new, innovative ways of thinking for the consumer-tech space. Over the years, as the iPhone matured into one of Apple’s main product lines, both consumer and critical perception struggled to remain enthusiastic, in comparison to the actual demand for the blockbuster product. That leads us to the present, where many enthusiasts, tech-geeks, and fanboys still continue to argue upon the changes, that should be applied to the aging (although IMO well-aging) interactive elements and design principles, that originally contributed as a factor of making the iPhone unique. Also, as hardware progression has supposedly crawled to a predictable pattern of update cycles, many more appear to be awaiting even what they don’t know to be possible in the palm of their hand (or palms for those with larger handsets). Thus, for as long as bytes run through my veins, and are pumped to my main-processing unit, I will be a tech enthusiast ready to splurge my words onto the canvas of the interweb. And in this post, I’m simply bursting with zeal, and determined to provide a comprehensive view into my mind; let’s get started...
Hungry Worms: Holes in the Software?
With the [relatively] recent news surrounding Apple’s executive shakeup, there has been much debate about the next version of iOS. Personally, I do believe that believers in an Android or Windows Phone-centric mobile environment should disregard statements about a drastic change, or powerful implementation of change around the next version of iOS. I believe that the same core principles that have stayed with iOS for so long, will continue to embed themselves deeply in the way top-level tasks are managed, and for good reason. Here’s an example of the misconception that is associated with one of iOS’ most controversial past features, and it helps to illustrate how it truly differs from other mobile platforms:
This article helped me understand how and why a certain part of the OS is structured in a specific manner. Also, for me it solidified the idea that:
For many, a good mobile operating system is not one that works in a manner similar to the desktop environment. Sometimes, it is one that requires less tinkering and one that commands less attention from its user, but is also simultaneously able to intelligently handle tasks. This can mean that even without quick toggles for common settings, well-built apps and core functionality are able to keep the battery from draining, and the experience from getting frustrating.
Here is another article that I found interesting, as it highlights importance topics that reinforce a notion that I personally agree with:
A good-looking or elegant interface does not necessarily translate into an overall good experience. There should be continuity, visual logic, and context for an interface to work properly.
Overall, even if Jony Ive’s stamp is all over the next version of iOS, I do hope that many of the root elements aren’t altered for the mere sake of change. Although I recognize [and dislike] some of the skeuomorphic aspects, I also believe that a ‘flat’ and Googlesque card-design (found in apps such as Gmail and Maps for iPhone) doesn’t bring about enough vividness for my tastes. iOS does not presently “bore” me, and with the expansive catalog that fills my pages of folders, it definitely has not grown stale from a day-to-day interaction perspective. As for a new look, I am optimistically hoping for something along the lines of refinement, that broadens the horizons of what and how my iPhone can do, without sacrificing simplistic values. A few words about what I hope that means:
Good minimalism should not imply plainness, but rather applied intuitiveness; it should strike a balance between the sensation of a tattered and noisy jungle, and the barren coldness of a wasteland. It shouldn’t (for obvious reasons), resemble anything close to either.
Great examples of the struggle for this concept include the new and recently jailbroken multitasking bar for the iPhone. Personally, the concept of screenshots does’t seem to add anything significant from a mobile perspective, as the idea would fit more ideally with the desktop environment, and the larger viewable real estate it provides (an area where my Macbook Air already shines). Instead, the current way which utilizes only the particular app icon, is better, as it is the most recognizable and familiar visual cue through the operating system. Also, although I find the brightness slider to be helpful, I think that the wireless switches imply a sense of continuous monitoring, which doesn’t fit with the mantra that iOS began with. Conclusively, there are many moving parts to the machine of change, but I do hope that the next iteration of iOS takes a winding path, where we see both added functionality, but continued sensibility that [fingers-crossed!] manages to wow.