1. The iPhone, iPad and iOS Are Powering a Revolution

    November 06, 2010

    Most people just don't understand computers. Are these people dumb? Some may be dumb, but the people who make them are maybe even dumber. Because they can't seem to figure out how to create a computer that the majority of people understand.

    When the original macintosh arrived at the stage back in the eighties, computers became a bit more human-friendly, but it was limited to the constraints of the then available hardware. It put away the text-based interface and introduced the graphic interface. It used the desktop metaphor to create this graphic environment. But this metaphor has had its day.

    Many people don't understand the desktop metaphor since they don't have a desktop and have never used one. Also, it is a metaphor, it's to translate the computer environment to something humans understand. But what if they don't understand the metaphor? For example, many people just don't 'get' the Windows Explorer or the Mac OS X finder. The desktop metaphor does not seem to fit in how people think.

    Every time you see a person enter a URL like www.youtube.com in the google search field, you will realize that we still have a long way to go.

    Most people did not seem to realize back then that the release of the iPhone wasn't that important, but the release of iOS. The iPhone was the first smartphone (a word most people are not familiar with) that did away with a stylus or hardware keyboard. It uses what is closest to us: our fingers. A totally new user interface, one that is very natural and close to us, is now available.

    Using touch as input required a total redesign of the entire user interface. All other interfaces were designed around hardware keyboard and mouse devices. Fingers are big, and are obstructing the view. But it allows for a more direct interaction with a device. And now all new smart phones sport a touch interface.

    Rumors of an Apple tabled existed for long, but it was very clear when the iPhone was released that if Apple would release a tablet, it would run this new iOS operating system.

    When the iPad was released, it became an instant hit. As of today, there is no device on the market that can be truly called a competitor. But why is this so? The ground work has been done by the iPhone. Most people with an iPhone will notice that aside from some performance issues in the past, the device just always worked. It was instantly available to sent an email, look something up on wikipedia or find the nearest Starbucks. An iPhone just always works. No boot. Very reliable. And an interface that makes you happy.

    Why does iOS make people happy? Because it provides a user interface that is human. People understand it instinctively. Any person of any age or background will be able to use an iOS device within minutes. The interface doesn't make you look like you are dumb because you just don't understand how it works. It not only works, it is easy to use and you are not afraid to break anything.

    The iPhone and the iPad are learning a lot of people not to fear computers.

    The iOS does away with the old desktop metaphor, but so does Symbian or similar interfaces. It is the combination with touch and the well thought out interface that sets it apart from other mobile operating systems. Even when the iOS platform did not have native applications, people still bought it and not only because Apple released a new shiny toy.

    However, the app store on iOS has created a very special and important environment. People can finally install and remove applications in an extremely simple way. They don't need to be scared that some program will crash your computer either while installing it, using it, or removing it. The whole iOS ecosystem creates an environment wherein people don't need any help any longer from other people. They are finally in control. They don't need to be afraid of their computer.

    This trend will affect the old-school user interfaces such as Mac OS X. How it will turn out is anybodies guess. But there is at least a small trend to 'eradicate' the finder as much as possible. iPhoto stores your photos. iTunes stores your music. If you want to include a photo or song within an application, you pick the photo or song in question from a miniature iPhoto or iTunes interface. There is no finder anymore. The finder is disappearing from the workflow. And why not? If programs are written well, why bother with it? The finder should be abstracted away, as is the case on iOS, where you don't have a finder.

    Another thing is multitasking, you know, that stuf we like to do, but cant. We can only do one thing at a time. What we do want is fast task switching, not multitasking. Sure, some programs must be running in de background, to continue to operate, such as a chat program, but that is not the point. Most people are just going crazy if you show how multitasking works, with different windows. Again, iOS shows how 'multitasking' should be implemented. It is implemented as fast application switching, allowing these applications to register services that must continue to run, while the application itself freezes when the user switches to another application. People tend to use one application at a time and especially on mobile devices, every single bit of screen real estate counts, so they are always running full screen. This full screen notion will also be incorporated in the next Mac OS X release, Lion. People switch, but do one thing at a time.

    Computer nerds tend to feel superior to people who don't have much skill using a computer. This feeling of superiority is totally misplaced. They should be really humble. because up until the advent of iOS, nobody was able to create a human friendly computer interface. It is not the lack of understanding on the side of computer users, it is the lack of understanding on the part of the computer nerds on how normal humans think and act.

    Simple, human friendly computer interfaces will liberate humanity from those pesky computer nerds. And that will cause a bit less suffering in the world I hope.

  2. Is the iPhone OS a Threat to Our Freedom?

    January 31, 2010

    There is one fundamental flaw with both the iPhone and the iPad. As a user, you do not have full control over your device. You can only install or run software that is approved by Apple.

    This is something that is unprecedented. All major platforms, Windows, Linux, Mac OS X do provide the user with full control over what programs can be run or not.

    Is this a bad thing? Are you trading your freedom for some luxurious gadget such as the iPhone or the iPad?

    I say no. People are over reacting.

    You would trade in your freedom and become 'owned' by Apple, if an iPhone or iPad is your sole computing device.

    However, everybody also has a computer at home, that is still under your full control.Since the iPhone and iPad is just an auxiliary device (although quite powerful), you are still free.

    Most importantly, I think it is about the content, not the device. Do you retain control over your own content, such as music, files and e-mail? I think so. I think that on this level, which is most crucial, Apple does not restrict people on iPhones or iPads in any way. And that is what matters most I think.

    Tagged as : iphone ipad freedom
  3. The iPad Will Be the Death of Flash

    January 30, 2010

    So Apple finally released their tablet computer: the iPad. One of the most debated drawbacks is that it lacks support for Adobe Flash. The iPhone does not support Flash either, and since the iPad is based on the iPhone OS, this should not come as a surprise.

    Now many people see this as a serious problem. There are a slew of websites that cannot be viewed on an iPad for this reason.

    However, the thing is this: Flash sucks. It is a proprietary technology under the control of Adobe and the only reason it is currently popular is that it provides a kind of standard for video playback across all browsers and operating systems. But it still sucks. It crashes. It is shit.

    The iPhone is immensely popular, despite the lack of flash. The iPhone user base is huge. By using Flash in your website, you are excluding a large population of potential visitors. So this is what will happen: websites will start dumping Flash. The iPhone and the iPad will together kill Flash.

    And that is a good thing for everybody, especially for proponents of open standards and open formats. Oh irony, that it will take a closed proprietary platform to do so.

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    Tagged as : ipad iphone kill flash

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