I have been playing with the Metro emulator on the iPhone.
To begin with, I couldn't understand why Microsoft would want to demo their OS when, surely, it is not the operating system but the apps that make a phone interesting. Or so I thought. And then it hit me: Metro behaves more like an app than an operating system.
Unlike a conventional OS, Metro doesn't recede into the background. It's not an empty stage for a zillion apps to step forward and dazzle us with their navigation, transitions and fonts. Far from it. Metro is every bit the star turn, the me-too OS that wants to impress and delight us just as much as say, Tweetbot, Path or Flipboard.
Path has changed. It's gone from a standard-looking UI to one that is amazingly rich in innovation and detail. It's a fascinating example of how apps can evolve through design, sometimes to the point of reinventing not just themselves, but the user experience.
Well done the team at Path on a brilliant job.
Now that Siri has landed, it will be fascinating to see how it evolves. Because evolve it will. What we're seeing now is just the beginning; a slither of what lies ahead. In a year or so, you can be sure that new paradigms and design innovations will have pushed it a new level. And it won't always be Apple that drives the change. Far from it. In the majority of cases, it will come from third-party designers and developers.
Patterns will be on hand to chronicle the changes, which is why I've added a new category to the pattern list, called Voice.
In the preface to her book, Designing the iPhone User Experience, Suzanne Ginsburg writes: "With over 200,000 apps in the App Store, it has become increasingly challenging for app designers and developers to differentiate their apps". Today, there are double that many apps on the App Store, maybe more, so it stands to follow that the challenges are even greater
Faced with such odds, I am always amazed and delighted when designers and developers not only rise to the challenge of differentiating their apps, but take them to a new level. We saw it with Tweetbot and Daily Routine. Now, Everplaces, a travel app from Everplaces.com, is set to do the same thing. It's a brilliantly conceived idea and one of the most satisfying pieces of design that I have come across in a long while, with some very nice touches.
Note: it's still in beta and is a bit flakey in places.
Marco Arment on why the Kindle Fire is a serious threat to the Android Market.
As most of us are aware, the market for tablet (or Honeycomb) apps has been glacially slow with only a fraction of the volumes that we've seen for iPad apps. To counter this, Google is pushing a new framework for supporting tablets and handsets - apps that scale. But will it be enough? Not "if the Fire sells anywhere near its target volumes", says Arment. He continues:
Amazon has hijacked the Android app retail channel for the long term: most sales of Android tablet software will be through the Amazon Appstore, and if your app isn’t there, it’s effectively invisible to the Android tablet userbase.
It's an ironic turn of events, to say the least.
It's a commonplace to say Steve Jobs had a talent for spotting a great product, but after reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, it's clear that of no less importance was his talent for spotting "A players", the people that could develope and deliver on those products.
Just one question can replace 20 tasks by the user. This is the power of Siri.
That's the view of Brian Roemmele, a contributor to Quora. His entire piece is a fascinating overview of Siri and should be read by anyone that is at all interested in how Siri will impact the future of app design. Spoiler: it's going to be huge; so huge that much of what we know and understand about app design will have to be re-thought.
If you've not already done so, I strongly recommend that you get yourself over to Quora and check out all the relevant articles.
Khoi Vinh's somewhat tortured answer to why Mixel requires a Facebook login.
During his speech at the recent A celebration of Steve's life, Jonny Ive described how he and Steve Jobs would spend "months and months working on a part of a product that nobody would ever see - well, not with their eyes".
It takes a special sort of person to know that our sense of 'seeing' comes not from our eyes, but from how we interact with a product.
In his introduction to Mixel, Khoi Vinh writes:
That’s where we think the power of social software can be a difference maker. Like multitouch tablets, social software is capable of many amazing transformations, including the idea that activities that were previously reserved only for experts can be democratized and made doable by anyone. The list of such transformations is long: journalism, filmmaking, fundraising, photography, even design and programming, to an extent. We think art belongs on that list, too.
Much as I admire Khoi Vinh, I do not agree with his notion of democracy.
Mixel does not usher in the democratisation of art, which is "doable by anyone", for the very simple reason that you require Facebook to login. Facebook is a closed system. Period. It has very little respect for the free movement of its users or indeed their property, so to make it the portal for Mixel's democratising ambitions is plain barmy.
In a subsequent tweet, Khoi Vinh has said that there are "good reasons" for the Facebook requirement, which he'll blog about shortly. I'm sure there are reasons aplenty, but I for one am not holding my breath.