The Apple iPhone’s impact was widely evident at the Consumer Electronics Show, as new touch-screen devices could be found everywhere.
Hello? This was inevitable. But can they all do it as well as Apple does it? I think we know the answer.
I’m waiting for Apple to …
collaborate with Canon or Nikon on a great digital camera whose interface is iPhone-like (instead of incomprehensible icon and push-button driven), and
release a land line phone that works like the phone/contact part of the iPhone, and syncs to any computer I own.
It will happen. It’s inevitable.
The iPhone is too great a leap forward in interface design to be confined to, well, the iPhone. But with all the patents that went into the iPhone (and all the design thinking that only Apple seems able to do), copying a touchscreen is not going to cut it.
Indeed, calling it a touchscreen interface misses the point of its smoothly integrated, intuitive multi-functionality.
Apple will surely partner with leading brands to bring its interface wizardry to all the devices that frustrate us, from cable boxes to remotes of all kinds.
And then they may even fix sync.
[tags]design, apple, iphone, touch[/tags]
Morning has broken
A technological lament in eight Tweets.
1 – Since Leopard time-stamps differently, syncing iPhone between Leopard + Tiger Macs means constant “replacement” of same files.
2 – 365 “old” calendar events get deleted; 365 “new” ones replace them. Same with 1GB video files. “Old” one is deleted; “new” one gets written.
3 – “Calendars” and “subscriptions” are also different between Leopard and Tiger, causing data loss when you sync.
4 – Choices: Update all Macs to Leopard (even though CS3 is wonky in it). Or sync iPhone only to one Mac (home OR office, not both). Or buy PC?
This would seem to end things. But then JZ pipes up:
(5) – : @zeldman – Seems to me that you need .Mac. Sync your phone to just one computer and then sync both computers to .Mac.
So one wearily continues:
6 – .Mac sync fails between Leopard + Tiger due to changes Apple made between OSes. .Mac freezes instead of syncing. .Mac useless now.
7 – Obviously Apple requires you to “upgrade” all your Macs to the same OS version, otherwise everything (including iPhone) is half-broken.
8 – It’s the kind of stuff that’s supposed to happen to the John Hodgman (PC) character, not the Justin Long (Mac) guy.
Installed Tiger update 10.4.11 this morning, which mainly provides Safari 3, which cannot access web content. It quits on launch every time.
I have no unsanity products installed, and no APE in my library, but I see “smart crash reports” by com.unsanity.smartcrashreports in the system info Apple collects prior to sending itself a crash report every time Safari 3 quits (which is every time it launches).
At some point in the past, I bought an unsanity product which I later uninstalled—but apparently there is a still a piece of their stuff around somewhere. This may or may not be causing Safari to eat its head.
Great time to break out the latest version of Camino.
No moving parts. No gears to wear down, no pads to replace. The code-powered device is an engineer’s dream and a user’s delight—until the software heads south.
Take my iPhone. Please. This morning, it stopped taking photos, and none of the approved means of restoring erring iPhones to sanity—restart, reset, restore—is of the slightest use.
Oh, there is still a lens on the back of the iPhone, and there is still a Camera icon at the top right of the Home screen. Clicking that icon still initiates camera-like functionality. I can still frame my subject in the glorious full-screen viewfinder, still press the shutter button at the bottom of the viewfinder window, and still enjoy the satisfying shutter click sound effect when I do so.
But I will not have a photo to show for my efforts. For the device does not actually take photos any more.
White box outline hack
Yesterday it was a camera. Today it simply emulates one.
If I try to view my photo(s) in the Camera Roll section, the iPhone tells me it contains “No Photos” and advises: “You can take photos using the camera.” Awesome suggestion, dudes!
If I navigate to the Camera Roll from inside the Camera (by pressing the blue outlined camera roll icon at the bottom left of the Camera’s viewfinder window), I see an empty white box indicating where the photo I’ve taken would be if the iPhone had not obliterated the data the moment the shutter snapped. (For that’s what it seems to do: take photos and immediately obliterate their data.)
If I take five photos before pressing the camera roll icon, I see five empty white boxes indicating the five photos whose data the camera deleted. Take ten photos, see ten empty white boxes.
I discovered this bug after using the iPhone to take photos of my three-year-old wearing a bathing suit and angel wings (she dressed herself). They were the best photos I ever took whose data was immediately obliterated.
88 photos, 96 tears
Yesterday the camera worked beautifully. During a long and wonderful day, I ended up taking 88 photos with the thing, all of which I synced to iPhoto, and a few of which I uploaded to Flickr. And I think it’s the number of photos I shot yesterday that sent my iPhone on a first-class carriage to Bugland.
I have noticed in the past that the iPhone is most likely to act up after I take a lot of photos—more than, say, a dozen.
Sometimes when I’ve taken a lot of photos (for instance, at a wedding or concert), iPhoto doesn’t sync. Instead, it erroneously tells me that the iPhone contains no photos. Usually, though, restarting the Mac restores proper sync, and no photos are lost in the process.
Here, every photo I take is immediately lost.
The standards fixes don’t
None of these help:
Restarting the Mac doesn’t help.
Restarting the iPhone doesn’t help.
Resetting the iPhone doesn’t help.
Even restoring the iPhone’s software—the court of last resort—doesn’t help.
Firmware problem? Hardware problem? Dude, I just work here.
Pin the bug on the lug
Mac fans are like Maoists. We are masters of cognitive dissonance. (Look it up.) If an Apple product delivers a less than satisfying experience, we assume the person reporting the problem is a fool. If not a fool, he or she must be an apostate.
You’ll have questions. Am I running the latest version of the iPhone’s software and firmware? I am. Am I running the latest version of iTunes? I am. Did I erase my iPhone lately? No. Was my iPhone “jailbroken” (i.e. hacked)? No. It’s a standard iPhone running Apple’s iPhone OS and nothing else.
Did I drop the iPhone, hold it under water, boil it in oil? No, no, no.
Do I think busted iPhone functionality is an earth-shattering problem? No, I think it is a luxury problem. Not only is it the least of the world’s problems, it is the least of my problems. Still. I saw at least a dozen things I absolutely had to photgraph today, and shot not a one. And that makes Sonny blue.
Thanks for sharing
Options. Be proud that my iPhone is “special.” Disdain photography. Cultivate an inverse snobbery that fools no one. (“You take … pictures? Really. How quaint.”) Or bring the damn thing to the Apple store nearest me and demand a replacement. That sounds like the winner.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a photo.
Apple.com has never lacked for panache. It has always looked more stylish, more elegant, more beautifully designed than most business sites. The site’s combination of utility, seduction, and understated beauty is practically unique—in keeping with the company’s primary point of product differentiation.
But while its beauty and usability have always run ahead of the pack, its underlying source code has not always kept pace. Now the online Apple Store’s inside is as beautiful as its exterior—and as far ahead of the mainstream in web development as a company like Apple needs to be.
One day, all sites will be built like this. View Source for an inspiring glimpse of how semantic and accessible even a grid-based, image-intensive, pixel-perfect site can be.
And next time your boss, client, or IT director annoyingly proclaims that you can’t have great looks and good markup, point them at store.apple.com. Who knows? They might buy you an iPhone or MacBook as a token of thanks.
Opinions are no longer being solicited, but you can read the 101 comments that were shared before we closed the iron door.
To be of use to others is the only true happiness. Although a 160 GB iPhone would also be nice.
I was hoping Apple would announce a new generation of iPhones with hard drives sufficient to hold an entire music collection plus a handful of videos. Failing that, I was hoping Apple would announce a new generation of iPods that were exactly like iPhones (sans the phone), with hard drives sufficient to hold an entire music collection plus a handful of videos. What Apple announced was an iPhone without the phone.
So I bought a 160 GB iPod Classic. I already have an iPhone, and you can borrow it when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
The Classic holds my digital music collection (currently, 31 GB) plus five or six movies digitized at high enough quality to play on a Cinema Screen, and has acres of drive space to spare. I feel that I will never fill it up, although I’ve thought that about every hard drive I’ve ever owned, and I soon filled them all.
The Classic is new and shiny and I almost never use it because the classic iPod interface feels prehistoric after using an iPhone. (Indeed, half the things I do on a computer feel awkward compared to doing them on an iPhone. Click on a friend’s street address in your iPhone. Wow! Now do the same thing on your computer. Ick.)
There are about five movies my toddler loves on the Classic, but she won’t watch them on the Classic. She wants the iPhone and asks for it by name, like cats do for Meow Mix.
The Classic is good for plugging your whole music collection into your stereo. Or it will be when the dock arrives. The Classic does not ship with a dock, and no dock is made for it, but you can order a $50 Universal Dock from Apple. The order takes four weeks to process plus another week to ship. Be kind and call those five weeks a month. A month after unpacking my new Classic I will be able to hook it into my stereo and charge it at the same time—something I expected to be able to do on the day it arrived.
The frustration of that wish is not tragic, but it is not particularly smart marketing, either. This, after all, is a product for people who ardently wish to carry their entire music collection plus a handful of movies in their pocket. Wish fulfillment is the product’s whole reason for being. (Well, wish fulfillment plus the execrable state of air travel, which can turn a jaunt between Chicago and New York into an odyssey of despair and boredom. Carry a Classic and those five hour delays fly by, even when nothing else is flying.)
The guaranteed nightmare of even the shortest business trip aside, what do you do with the Classic? Well, I sometimes bring it to the gym. Because sometimes at the gym, it takes a while to find the right groove. The iPhone’s 7.3 GBs aren’t enough to hold a sufficient musical selection to ensure a great workout.
On the other hand, I can’t answer a business call on my iPod. So even though the Classic gives me lots more music to choose from, I mostly bring my iPhone to the gym.
No iPod is an island, or should be.
Did I mention that the iPhone has a gorgeous, high-resolution screen and the iPod does not? Then there’s the whole gesturing with your fingertips business. How nice that feels, and how weird and slow and un-Apple-like it now feels to go back to the clickwheel that once felt so poshly smart and modern.
I tell you this. If Apple can put a capacious, chunked-out hard drive on the iPhone—even if doing so makes the phone a tad clunkier—the company will have on its hands its hottest convergent technology box yet. And I’ll be the first in line.
In Issue No. 245 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: Sarah B. Nelson of Adaptive Path shows how to create collaborative work sessions that actually work, and Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry concludes his remarkable two-part series on designing and coding with the iPhone and its new brethren in mind.
In Issue No. 244 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, father of CSS Håkon Wium Lie advocates real TrueType fonts in web design, while Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry (developer of Twitterific) describes in detail how to optimize websites for iPhone.
Web content is mostly text. Web interfaces are text-based. Design consists chiefly in arranging text to aid communication—guiding readers to the words and experiences they seek. Better typography means better web experiences. Improving typography without resorting to image or Flash replacement and their attendant overhead is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Will browser makers rise to Håkon’s challenge?
Apple’s iPhone is the new frontier in interface design, offering rich computing experiences while dumping established techniques like mouse use and copy-and-paste. Its browser component, by contrast, pretty much provides a normal desktop experience via the standards-compliant Safari browser and small but high-resolution screen. For the most part, then, designing web content for the iPhone simply means designing web content. Ah, but there are tricks that can help your site more smoothy accommodate Apple’s new device. Some can even improve the web experience for all users.
Craig Hockenberry seems to have found them all, and he shares what he knows in a two part series that begins in this issue. I have known Craig since 1996; we collaborated on web-oriented Photoshop filters before Adobe figured out the web. He is a brilliant, funny, and modest man, and now you can get to know him, too.
Both articles are bound to produce thought and argument. Both are at least somewhat controversial. I love them both, and admire both writers. It is a pleasure to share this issue with you.
This issue of A List Apart was produced by Andrew Fernandez, technical-edited by Aaron Gustafson and Ethan Marcotte, art directed by Jason Santa Maria, and illustrated, as always, by the amazing Kevin Cornell. Krista Stevens is acquisitions editor. Erin Kissane edits the magazine.