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GUI Handhelds Apple Hardware

The Apple Tablet Interface Must Be Like This 278

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
kylevh writes "On one side, there are the people who think that a traditional GUI—one built on windows, folders and the old desktop metaphor—is the only way to go for a tablet. In another camp, there are the ones who are dreaming about magic 3D interfaces and other experimental stuff, thinking that Apple would come up with a wondrous new interface that nobody can imagine now, one that will bring universal love, world peace and pancakes for everyone. Both camps are wrong: The iPhone started a UI revolution, and the tablet is just step two. Here's why." There are lots of cool UI ideas in there, even if it is entirely speculation. It's worth a read just to think about what the future could be like.
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The Apple Tablet Interface Must Be Like This

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:29PM (#30848846)

    http://www.theonion.com/content/video/apple_introduces_revolutionary

  • for the vapourware age

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      yeah, the apple hype on this is disgusting. I'll wait until something is actually out and solid instead of a deliberate leak designed to get people interested. There's actually nothing substantive in the article or the summary.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dupple (1016592)
        <quote><p>yeah, the apple hype on this is disgusting. </p></quote>

        There hasn't been any thing said by apple. As soon as they made an announcement that something was going on at the end of January, everyone else start hyping something that no on knows anything about.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:31PM (#30848864)

    I get that the idea of an Apple tablet is intriguing, but is it worth all the stories popping up in the tech world? I mean, there's speculation about it showing up on gaming blogs. Lots of these articles are genuine, but I'm starting to smell a little astroturf too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      I get that the idea of an Apple tablet is intriguing, but is it worth all the stories popping up in the tech world? I mean, there's speculation about it showing up on gaming blogs. Lots of these articles are genuine, but I'm starting to smell a little astroturf too.

      It's the biggest story in personal electronics for the next 6 days. After the iPod and the iPhone, Apple coming out with a new product is a major deal - particularly in how it influences the already existing markets of, respectively, music players, smartphones, and tablets.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Itchyeyes (908311)

        The iPod and iPhone were certainly transformative products, but that's not the case for every single new product Apple announces. How many people here have an Apple TV under their television set? It's certainly exciting to speculate, but like the GP said, it's getting out of hand. Every single blog on the Internet is speculating wildly, and the New York Times [nytimes.com] isn't even taking the time to qualify "news" about the device as rumors anymore. Chances are good that Apple will announce something pretty spect

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:10PM (#30849418) Journal
      "is it worth all the stories popping up in the tech world? "

      Thank you!

      Actually I'll take it a step forward: shut-up already! Tell me when it comes out and give me a full review with a components breakdown. I'm so incredibly tired of every tech site I go to running a article every day with potential design mock-ups, hypothetical processor specs, and emerging screen technologies that might appear in the new not-formally-announced Apple tablet. I've been reading Apple Tablet stories on slashdot for five years [slashdot.org], and frankly I'm tired of hearing about it.

      This thing has more hype than Duke Nukem Forever and half the credibility, at least Duek Nukem Forever had confirmed release dates [kotaku.com].

      So what about it /., am I still going to be reading Apple Tablet might-have stories on /. in 2015, or can we finally stop beating this very dead horse and bury it until it's really released?
      • by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:09PM (#30850270)

        Tell me your address and I'll send the police over immediately - I know it's terrifying being forced to read these stories at gunpoint, but help is on the way!

        Screw talking about some hypothetical gadget - what we should really be discussing is the huge number of people who are being forced to read and comment on articles they don't want to read. Why isn't the government doing something about this?!!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by NotPeteMcCabe (833508)

        I've been reading Apple Tablet stories on slashdot for five years

        Why do you keep reading them? It's not like they're secretly given misleading summaries.

        I don't like hockey but I don't go around on NHLBLOG.COM telling everybody to shut up.

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:13PM (#30849464)

      It might be genuine people writing genuine articles, but it's still fed from the strategic "leaks" put out by Apple, with the purpose of generating hype. So the genuine people writing their genuine articles are actually Apple's PR strategy for getting people to talk about this without them having to make an official announcement. Of course, when they actually do make the announcement the hype will be so much that the free media coverage Apple will get out of it will be worth more than they would have ever wanted to spend on a pre-promo campaign for it.

      So yeah, the articles are genuine, and it's also astroturfing, even if the authors don't realize they're astroturfing. Apple speculation is ridiculous and useless. It doesn't matter what the speculation is, we'll all found out exactly what Apple plans to do, exactly when Apple wants us to find that out, and it will have all of the features that it would have had if no one had been speculating.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dangitman (862676)

        It might be genuine people writing genuine articles, but it's still fed from the strategic "leaks" put out by Apple, with the purpose of generating hype.

        What evidence do you have for that claim?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I wouldn't call it astroturfing-- not exactly. These things are fed by Apple's leaks, and it's fairly intentional on Apple's part. It was reported that Apple knew one of their competitors was going to release a tablet (Microsoft?) and leaked information about their own tablet to steal the news cycle.

      However, Apple doesn't really need to feed these things. Apple fans do it to themselves to some extent. Even back in the 90s when Apple was falling apart, Mac fans were tracking the company's progress close

    • by samkass (174571)

      I mean, there's speculation about it showing up on gaming blogs.

      Gosh, the successor to one of the most prolific gaming devices ever released is 7 days away from announcement and someone wants to talk about it on a gaming blog? The horror! Seriously, all the game titles released for all the other current platforms put together equal the amount of titles released for the iPhone OS. Sure, a lot of them are free indie toys of questionable quantity, but it's still a must-have device for any gaming enthusiast

  • Files (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:32PM (#30848872)

    It is okay for files to go away, right up until the point that I notice I can't access some data because it is stuck in some app.

    And I don't mean that files should never go away, I just mean that each time I notice it, I get confirmation that they aren't done making whatever it was that they changed work correctly yet.

    • by fermion (181285)
      The files are not going away, just relying less on a file name and more on association. Raskin's idea are useful, and not unique. The one key idea is the filesystem as a database, which would have made MS Vista what it was supposed to be, and would have made MS Windows 7 the preeminent touch screen interface.

      There are really two issue with moving aways from folders and files. The biggest on is this is what many techies expect. The average user doesn't care, and in fact probably hates files. They jus

      • Folders/files and databases are both just data repositories. You can read and write data to it using an identifier. The average user does not care about either files or databases, he just cares about naming and finding entities he's working with. Whether the underlying OS uses a filesystem or a database, he will select Save in his word processor and type "My monthly report 5", and later restore it by that label. One could even make identical interfaces.
  • yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:33PM (#30848888)

    i hereby nominate apple speculation as the most boring internet subculture

    • by TommydCat (791543)
      The author is all for pancakes, so this is relevant to my interests.
    • vi v. emacs
      or even
      vi v. vim

      Prepare to eat your words, sir. 80 columns at a time.

    • I'll gladly second that.

    • by kjart (941720)

      Really? I actually find it fairly hilarious, mainly because despite all the noise, nobody has really answered in any compelling way what I am supposed to want one of these for. If you think about your average Apple fanboy (I like their stuff, but don't count myself in that category), they likely already have:
      -iPhone
      -Mac laptop (macbook, macbook pro, etc)
      -Mac desktop (iMac, etc)

      Ok, so 2 and 3 might not be the rule, but still - what computing niche does this table fill that isn't already covered? The bes

  • Missed a story? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mathx314 (1365325) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:34PM (#30848914)
    Oh, huh, I must have missed the announcement that the Apple tablet wasn't just a rumor but actually a real thing. Odd, normally I'm on top of things like that. Oh well.
    • WSJ (Score:3, Informative)

      by copponex (13876)

      Once the Wall Street Journal starts publishing details, you know that they are using a purposeful leak. They wouldn't put their reputation on a rumor, and Apple has to keep their secretive product development intact to preserve their brand identity.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703405704575015362653644260.html [wsj.com]

  • by trafic_man (774311) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:36PM (#30848936)
    From the article “For its part, Asus has netbooks and smartbooks running on Android and Chrome OS in its R&D labs, according to Shih, but is waiting until conditions are right to release them.” “Prototypes of tablet or slate PCs - touchscreen machines with no keyboards suited to watching media, reading e-books and web browsing - are sitting in Asus labs but Shih said the company is holding back on releasing any devices.” There may also be a product cycle from a hacked prototype in the R&D lab to full consumer release. The article makes it seem like they have the things in boxes ready to ship, its just that the Chairman Jonney Shih is waiting for the right time to slam his hand on the easy button and get them to market. What bothers me about this is it seems these comments are aimed at confusing investors into believing Asus is leading the way with these technologies like they did with the Eee PC. That does not seem to be the case.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:39PM (#30848970)
    It turns the center of iSlate into a heater good for making coffee or heating ramen noodles. The CPU is right under that spot. All I do it run a program that counts how much Steve Jobs is making and it heats up real quick.
  • by alen (225700) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:40PM (#30848982)

    netbooks have crappy margins. building a tablet where you are forced to buy "content" just to use it is a stealth way of increasing average revenue per unit

  • We'll see. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onion2k (203094) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:40PM (#30848992) Homepage

    It's true enough that a tablet PC that's essentially just a scaled up iPhone would be pretty cool. If it's based on something similar to iPhone OS it'd be easy for developers to port existing apps too, so the App Store would fill up with software for it relatively quickly too. A tablet scale version of Orbital would be brilliant.

    But...

    It'd cost a lot. It wouldn't be particularly usable for traditional apps like email. It'd be great for watching films and stuff, but not as good as a TV. I guess it'd appeal to a narrow band of Apple nerds; even fewer than bought into the Macbook Air. While I'm sure Apple are capable of releasing something like that, and making a profit out of it, I can't help but think they're cleverer than that. Whatever is coming is going to have to be bigger (in the sense of appealing to the populace rather than a tiny subset of it) than a mere tablet even if they make it super snazzy.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Exactly. The people who might buy a scaled up iPhone tablet are people who have an iPhone. Oops. No market.

      Apple might be able to sell a $200-$300 e-book reader. They won't be able to sell a $1000 iPhone++. If they're actually aiming for the $500+ price point, which seems likely, they're going to have to come up with something that can substitute for a notebook in many circumstances.

    • Re:We'll see. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:06PM (#30849348)

      I think you're overlooking the overall design. TFA alludes to it well, but I'll be explicit about it:

      Apple is looking into killing the Mac as we know it.

      They have a world in their mind's eye where they control all content through a single iTunes store. Your phone, your appliance, your workstation - all the same, with all of their users shopping directly from Apple itself. All applications that the machine will run are vetted and controlled, and Apple gets a cut of everything. They also get gobs and gobs of data from the purchase habits and the apps themselves.

      If this tablet succeeds, they inch closer to their goal. Thus, they could well slash the cost, probably beyond any hopes of a profit, towards achieving their goal of getting a cut on all the software.

      And if you like a world where you can download and run free software, this concept probably should frighten you, at least a little. Because if Apple does it, and does it right, the world will follow behind them.

      At any rate, bookmark this post. You may want to come back later and compare it to what actually happened... ;)

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        Do you have anything to back up your claims that "Apple is looking into killing the Mac as we know it." in the sense that they're looking to kill it as a general purpose computer? Or are you simply doing the tired old "mac = lock-in = for idiots = gaytardz fagetry lulz!!11" thing?

        /Mikael

        • by BobMcD (601576)

          Well, first off, I'm not overly inclined to respond to an accusation of participating in 'gaytardz fagetry'. Second, I did specifically refer you to the very Fine Article, which it seems you have not read. Finally, I also implicitly stated that I was making a prediction, and that it might be fun to compare it to reality later.

          I suppose I could have also stated that I am not Steve Jobs, I do not know anyone who works for Apple, and everything I am envisioning is pure speculation.

          With that all out of the wa

          • by mikael_j (106439)

            Well then, what about the Photoshop users? and the developers using XCode? Do you think Apple truly believes they'll stick with the platform if they're forced into some (in their and my eyes) horribly restricted modal operating system?

            /Mikael

            • by BobMcD (601576)

              I honestly think Apply wants to segue even them into that arena. Plus the worst of the restrictions could, and likely will, go away for the more powerful devices. They're already speculating on how to make the tablet multi-task, which the iPhone isn't very good at doing.

              On the Adobe side of things, Apple would be offering a once-in-a-lifetime anti-piracy angle as well. I'm not sure how tempted they will be, but it would likely weigh in somewhere.

              And if Adobe doesn't play ball, isn't there some expectatio

              • by mikael_j (106439)

                I'm still hoping for them to reveal a "real" tablet PC, that is, not a glorified ebook-reader but something more like what's already on the tablet PC market but well-designed instead of the clunky designs that have been available so far (most seem to have been typical "pro" or "ultra portable/executive" laptops with a monitor that you can flip around plus an incredibly crappy digitizer at a price that no one but the boardroom boys can afford). And considering the improvements in touch support they've been a

    • by copponex (13876)

      The netbook craze has shown one thing: average users no longer care about speed or enormous screen size. Honestly, I would have never believed anyone if they said I could buy a gigahertz phone in 2010, I'm not sure I would have believed them. If it can play MP3s, 720p, and requires little maintenance, most users are going to be happy.

      Pretty soon the only thing the user is going to care about is the size of the screen. They'll want it to dock to a keyboard and mouse when they sit down to write a paper. Other

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:41PM (#30849008) Homepage

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people think that things like files
    and folders are too confusing for the novice. They are a pretty intuitive
    metaphor and heirarchical organization is something that humans tend to do
    naturally. A lot of this seems to be mindless fear mongering and I really
    don't get what the "self interest" is here.

    A "normal" person can navigate Virgin Megastore but they can't do the same
    thing with the same content in files and folders?

    Nonsense.

    People are being actively discouraged from exploring the interface and gaining
    any understanding it. This is limiting even with this "revolutionary new UI"
    that the iphone is supposed to be.

    Even the "databases" that files get sucked into still end up being simple and
    relatively flat heirarchies.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      I have an iphone and have to scroll through pages of flat icons aranged in order of install to get to an app. Err, thats the revolution? Thats like pointing to someone on Windows who dumps all their files to their desktop with no folders and calling it efficient.

      Its only efficient when you have under 20 items. Anything more requires some kind of basic organizational system. The desktop/file cabinet metaphor works especially well.

      Then again, this is an opinion piece from gizmodo. Seems like these guys spend

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        Um, you do know that you can rearrange the order of the icons right? And a screen doesn't have to be full before a new one is started. Each page of my iPod Touch is categorized - Games - Social Media Apps - Lifestyle/Finance - Utilities, etc. It's only unorganized if you choose to not organize it.

        • by badasscat (563442)

          It's only unorganized if you choose to not organize it.

          Which no doubt describes 95% of actual users.

          Most modern UI's at least imply some sort of organizational structure (ie. Windows has "documents", "videos", "photos" etc. folders where these types of files generally go by default in most apps, and the Mac has something similar). The iPhone makes you do all the organizational work yourself. This isn't a UI revolution, it's a step backwards.

      • It's all about scale. The ipod interface is easier for doing simpler things, but when you try to scale it up to a power-user level, it fails miserably compared to OS X and Windows.

        As long as people want to do complex things with their computers, normal desktops and laptops aren't going away. However, there is a lot of computer that isn't that complex, and I can see a tablet fitting well into that sort of middle ground being ultra-portable smartphones and something to get real work done on. The vast majority

    • by Coriolis (110923) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:55PM (#30850056)

      I'm surprised you think this. I've watched friends and family (all smart people, before anyone starts implying anything) graduate from novices to regular users, and some to power users. I remember them being initially utterly perplexed by the file and folder metaphor. I couldn't tell you why, but I could suggest why: the metaphor is imperfect. Files and folders do not behave like paper, and the differences in behaviour can be very confusing. For example, if I file something in a physical folder and go to look for it later, there's usually no chance that I'll have look inside a nested folder that is, apart from the name, practically indistinguishable from the one that contains it. The problem seems (to me) to be that users have trouble establishing a sense of place, of where the documents are stored. Where's my letter? What's this "drive" you keep talking about? When I edit this picture, why doesn't it update in both the letters I was writing?

      Geeks don't have this problem, because we think like this. We prefer to break our information down its atoms.

      Don't get me wrong, the metaphor is better than what came before it, but I don't think it's the best we can do.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        For example, if I file something in a physical folder and go to look for it later, there's usually no chance that I'll have look inside a nested folder that is, apart from the name, practically indistinguishable from the one that contains it. The problem seems (to me) to be that users have trouble establishing a sense of place, of where the documents are stored. Where's my letter?

        Mac Classic went a long way towards solving that, they called it a spatial file browser. The principles were:

        1) There is only one

    • by rxan (1424721)

      What I don't get about people hating the file/folder metaphore is: what do you expect to be better?

      A database? Well then you have to search for everything, which in turn means remembering the name or type of everything. People can't do that. It's handy when they can, as seen in Windows 7/Vista search, but there will always be times when we forget.

      I think it's just better to encourage people to learn the file/folder metaphore rather than trying to replace it for the sake of replacing it.

    • It never ceases to amaze me how some people think that things like files and folders are too confusing for the novice

      I've actually thought sometimes that the "folder" metaphor was a little confusing, but probably not for the reason you're talking about. I remember trying to teach people about computers back in the command-line days and then teaching people when the directories became "folders", and at first people seemed to have a harder time understanding "folders".

      It seems that the idea of "files" or "documents" as discrete packets of information is easy enough, and then those files can be sorted into logical containe

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tom (822)

      It never ceases to amaze me how some people think that things like files and folders are too confusing for the novice.

      You've not looked on any novice desktop lately, have you? Most non-techies appear to stuff everything important unto the desktop itself. Doesn't look very much as if they "get" folders.

      A "normal" person can navigate Virgin Megastore but they can't do the same thing with the same content in files and folders?

      A normal person is very well equipped with spatial perception and orientation since it comes with the wetware. File and folder thinking doesn't. It may appear natural to you, but it is an acquired skill.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:41PM (#30849010) Homepage Journal

    It would have the right number of buttons

    That would be one, then? [ducks for cover]

  • I'll be disappointed. But if it is going to be a color eInk reader with similar friendliness as the iPhone, then there might be hope.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:46PM (#30849080) Homepage

    Raskin describes this idea of the interface for every task being different. The device mutates and models itself on whatever is being done. The UI CHANGES to suit the task.

    This sounds remarkably like the EXACT OPPOSITE of the sort of "consistency" that's supposed to be the bedrock of "good interfaces".

    • Raskin describes this idea of the interface for every task being different, etc. The device mutates and models itself on whatever is being done. The UI CHANGES to suit the task.

      This sounds remarkably like the EXACT OPPOSITE of the sort of "consistency" that's supposed to be the bedrock of "good interfaces".

      Not really. With a device like an iPhone, the user expects to see a defined set of parts of the interface - buttons, dials, movements. That's the consistent part. A button is a certain size, gest

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        How is that different from what we're doing now on desktop computers?

        iTunes has a different arrangement of widgets (for searching music) than Excel has than Word has than Outlook has. Ok...

        So you're described what the iPhone is doing, but what I don't get is how this is new or revolutionary in any way. What's the difference between this and just running all your Windows apps maximized?

    • by WilliamBaughman (1312511) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:10PM (#30849416)

      Consistency doesn't necessarily mean "stays the same," it can mean "does the same thing, the same way." Take OXO Good Grips, for example. A different tool for every task, but the handles are always black and little squishy so even people who have never cored a pineapple know how to hold the tool.

      If a UI changes to suit a task, that's ok. The UI in the iPhone is constantly changing, but a button shaped like an arrow pointing to the right always opens a sub-menu. Selecting a text box always brings up a keyboard. And it gets more specialized than that, but not more confusing. If you're typing in a field that expects an email address, you get a ".com" button. I haven't seen anyone look at the ".com" button and freak out.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        The ".com" button is a big fat joke. It's a waste of valuable real estate that isn't even applicable most of the time.

        If anything, it's a nice reminder of how awkward it is to type on that virtual keyboard.

        It's a perfect example of the Apple mentality really...

    • by nabsltd (1313397)

      Raskin describes this idea of the interface for every task being different. The device mutates and models itself on whatever is being done. The UI CHANGES to suit the task.

      For a device as small as the iPhone with a limited OS, a modal interface that changes with the mode is really the only way to go.

      The reason the "desktop" metaphor works for computers is because they have larger screens and multitask.

      So, regardless of how amazing an Apple tablet might be, if it can't compete significantly with portable computers of the same size, then it will be a niche product. It still might sell millions, but with netbook/laptop sales in the billions, it will still be a drop in the bucke

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone RTFA??? The author claims that the iPhone is radical because it "transforms" into various appliances.... an idea lead by the "visionary" Jef Raskins (Oh, let's forget about that stupid Canon Cat idea which kinda F'd up any idea of how much of a Nostradamus this guy was.

    It's called "Maximize" in any modern GUI. Hide the start menu, make your screen black, set up "one touch" for desktop icons, and every application now magically has an iPhone interface.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:52PM (#30849154)

    The article author seems to think that the iPhone interface is going to take over everything. That the app-that-takes-over-the-whole-screen paradigm is the universal solution to all computing.

    We did that, twenty years ago. As soon as we developed computers powerful enough to multitask, we did. And I don't mean playing music in the background, but running multiple programs at once and interacting with them. For a small screen mobile device the one app at a time paradigm is pretty much mandatory. For larger screens, you want to see multiple things at a time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slim (1652)

      Except that, in Windows land at least, many applications seem to be designed to be run maximised. So we alt-tab between them. Office, Photoshop, Eclipse, they all do it.

      When windowing was starting to mature, we had some nice desktop environments that encouraged cooperation between applications that shared a screen. For example, in Sun's OpenView, to load a file into their TextEditor, you'd drag from a file window onto "document" hotspot. To save you'd drag from the hotspot into the file window.

      Acorn's RiscO

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        I actually think one of the primary reasons that the Windows world is still filled with "fullscreen only" apps is because there are lots of users and developers who grew up thinking that way due to their computers being set to run at 800x600 or 1024x768 for way too long (Mac and *nix users seemed to crave higher resolutions to a much higher degree), hell I still have friends who insist on running their $2,500 gaming rigs hooked up to some crappy old 17" CRT running at 1280x960@75Hz "because CRTs are better

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        On Windows, yes. That's one of the things that bugs people moving from Windows to the Mac, in fact. The "maximize" button on a Mac window does not maximize to fill the whole screen.

        IE does the fill the screen thing, and a lot of websites are (very annoyingly) designed assuming a window that fills a particular size screen. Photoshop doesn't though - Photoshop windows are specifically sized to fit the image and do not normally maximize to fill the whole screen. Office has lots of options for zooming docum

  • RIP Desktop Metaphor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:53PM (#30849164)
    I've always thought that the desktop metaphor was a short sighted misstep in interface design. It doesn't scale well. It tries to duplicate a convention that is the result of the realities of storing and managing physical files, and along with that it duplicates all of it's shortcomings. I have been very pleased to see, through the iPhone and the internet, that it is finally passing away.

    I too hope that the tablet mac follows this trend. Rest in peace desktop metaphor, may your days on my computer soon be ended.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:53PM (#30849166) Homepage

    There's a difference between devices that are mostly for receiving information, and those that are for doing something with it. Music players, "e-book" readers, navigation devices, and entertainment devices in general are mostly-receive. They need a much simpler interface than a creation device. Try to cram a CAD application into the iPhone interface. [cadtouch.com] It's possible, but it's not happy there.

    This is a bigger distinction than the form factor. Mostly-receive devices can get along with a blunt interface of big buttons.

  • by Em Ellel (523581) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:00PM (#30849254)

    Can someone please SERIOUSLY ( no pro or anti apple fanaticism please) explain what exactly is so revolutionary about iPhone interface?

    They have pages of icons - kind of like desktop UI, but pretty much EXACLY like 90's PalmOS and many other portable OS's.

    They added gestures on OS level (scroll bar everywhere, instead of certain part of the screen), which was also available on PC and some advanced PalmOS apps - although it was a nice touch to make it part of OS. Multi-touch is cute, but hardly a revolution (except maybe literally)

    They removed many standard UI components like date pickers and replaced them with clunky wheels - that was probably a step back.

    They added a software repository- the kind Linux world was using for a decade.

    They added extra sensors to the OS - which were nice, but also been available on other devices for a while.

    There is nothing new here except for putting bunch of existing things all together, for which they certainly deserve praise, but all in all it seems like a great evolutionary work, hardly a revolutionary one.

    -Em

    • Can someone please SERIOUSLY (no pro or anti apple fanaticism please) explain what exactly is so revolutionary about iPhone interface?

      Nothing. It's just the next evolutionary step of the model Palm introduced in the '90s. It doesn't make sense for a tablet.

      Now if they were to bring back the Newton scroll, that would be interesting.

      • by Em Ellel (523581)

        Can someone please SERIOUSLY (no pro or anti apple fanaticism please) explain what exactly is so revolutionary about iPhone interface?

        Nothing. It's just the next evolutionary step of the model Palm introduced in the '90s. It doesn't make sense for a tablet.

        Now if they were to bring back the Newton scroll, that would be interesting.

        Well, evolutionary vs revolutionary aside, I actually think that the iPhone interface maybe a good match for a tablet platform (though in interest of full disclosure, personally I would prefer a platform with more freedom and more open to innovation).

        Key here is the realization that Computer Age is over, and we are now in the Information Age. If you give up on the idea that a tablet should be a computer replacement and accept that most people do not need/want a computer - they want access to information. M

        • by argent (18001)

          Possibly, for some people, but it's like predicting that public transport will replace the private automobile. I would like to see that happen, and for many people they do, because the cost of getting that personal automobile is significant, or their specific circumstances make a private car inconvenient (eg, they live in New York or London). But where people can afford the private car, they get it. And the price differential between a general purpose computer and a collection of specialized devices that ea

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by starglider29a (719559)
      To quote^H^H^H^H^Haparaphrase an IBM commercial: "...the greatest thing since sliced bread. But the person who invented sliced bread didn't invent bread. He didn't even invent slicing."

      Take all of the "like..." statements you made, which are all over the map, and put it all in one place. "putting bunch of existing things all together"... is the revolution.

      Saying there is nothing new here is like saying that you take some rockets, some heat shielding, some wings and make the space shuttle. No biggie.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by badasscat (563442)

        Saying there is nothing new here is like saying that you take some rockets, some heat shielding, some wings and make the space shuttle. No biggie.

        Well, that's an odd metaphor, considering that most generally consider the space shuttle to be a failure at the mission for which it was originally conceived. And two of the five orbiters have been lost to accidents. The overall program safety rate is much worse than the rockets that preceded it.

        The point being, yes, it takes some imagination to put all these th

    • by radish (98371) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:22PM (#30849600) Homepage

      As you say, it was the combination and the polish. There's no one thing (that I can think of) on the iPhone that you can't find on some previous device/software. But there's also no previous device with all (or even many) of those things, polished to such a high degree. From a feature list point of view it's certainly evolutionary - but I'd certainly say it was revolutionary from an overall user experience point of view.

      As the Gizmodo article points out, the general UI idea of a page of icons which load full screen apps is just like Palm. And I was a big Palm fan back in the day - their problem was that although the UI was fine, it was hampered by the tech to the point where even if the concept worked it was so unattractive to use as to be very niche. Resistive touch screens required stylii, which suck. Early models were monochrome, even color models had nothing like the graphical fidelity of the iPhone. The graphics chips couldn't do things like full screen animations, fades, etc and of course there was no such thing as persistent wireless internet (and yes, I had the Palm III GSM modem, it blew chunks even then!). Apple waited until the tech existed to do what they knew would impress people, rather than try to make something they hoped would sell within the limits of the available tech. In the process they pretty much totally reinvented the highend cellphone market and IMHO brought the PDA concept back from the dead.

      My personal story: I'm not an Apple fan. I do own a Mac, but it's my least used machine and I really don't like it very much. I grew up on Atari, DOS/Windows, Palm, Nokia and later Linux. When the iPhone came out I had no intention of buying one, until I happened to be by the Apple store in a mall on launch weekend and popped in to see what all the fuss was about. Within a couple of minutes of playing with it I was in line to buy one, and several upgrades later I have no regrets. I still detest iTunes, and am officially "meh" on OSX, but nothing is tempting me away from the iPhone. Android has potential, but it's not there yet.

    • I think the only people talk about being "revolutionary" is the multitouch stuff. It's more than just "cute", but there is a limit to its usefulness. Also, when you get down to it, it's only a couple of gestures implemented in a couple of places. It mostly amounts to a very good way of zooming in and out.

      I think what people like about the interface is that it's simple and direct and it works well. Instead of using a stylus to point to tiny checkboxes or using scroll wheel with your thumb to navigate th

      • by Em Ellel (523581)

        I think the only people talk about being "revolutionary" is the multitouch stuff. It's more than just "cute", but there is a limit to its usefulness. Also, when you get down to it, it's only a couple of gestures implemented in a couple of places. It mostly amounts to a very good way of zooming in and out.

        Personally I find the double click works much better than pinching, but both methods suffer greatly if your material has a lot of links (most of the time if you accidentally hit one, you have to wait the few minutes as it tries to open Safari, then close it then re-open and find what you were looking at in the first place - just to try to zoom and be caught by same thing again.

        -Em

        • It's good for zooming into a particular set of text or something, but the pinching action does give a bit of additional control. For example, try zooming in and out to different degrees on different details in photos on your iPhone.

    • Having endured through tons of interfaces that required a stylus to properly operate, the iPhone was the first that combined a "finger friendly" environment with sleek hardware and the ability to plug into the apple ecosystem.

      I lived through various early versions of Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Windows Mobile on Palm, blackberry, and Good Technology (exchange connectivity many years ago before Microsoft built it into the product).

      At the time they were all great since that was the best we had. Once iPhone came

  • by Scyber (539694)
    What is so magical about the iPhone interface? The same people I see struggle with windows or OS X struggle with the iPhone when they get it. The difference is they tend to use the iphone more on a daily basis than their desktop and are therefore more proficient at specific tasks. Ask them to do something they are unfamiliar with and they struggle. Heck I knew one guy that had an iphone for 3 months and still didn't know how to install an app. I'd guess its more of a generational thing than anything
  • by ae1294 (1547521) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:20PM (#30849560) Journal

    This is the sixth article this month on Slashdot directly relating to a apple {vaporware} tablet...

    • Probably not a Slashvertisement, but instead just Slashdot trying to jump on they hype train and garner some hits.

  • by ynotds (318243) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:28PM (#30849678) Homepage Journal

    I hate posting negatively, even more so about the dead, but it really is time the legend was buried with the man.

    Back when it was still possible I was in a fortunate position which gave me access to many of the Valley's elite.

    Raskin still sticks out in my mind as far and away the least credible.

    Put simply, he suffered problems I've seen afflict other failed would-be futurists in other places. His ideas were all grounded on a past that had never existed. And when the world didn't turn out to match his dreams, it was everybody else's fault.

    On a more positive note, I'm looking forward to forming an opinion of the tablet next Thursday (my time) but don't have over-inflated expectations. At launch, the Touch was clearly the most important user interface innovation since 1984 and the only product in recent years I both ordered and received on the first possible day. But applying Stuart Kauffman's analysis of navigation strategies for rugged fitness landscapes, there is ever less scope for radical innovation and more likelihood of gain from incremental strategies, the bleedingly obvious double click on a word resolution of the supposed problem of a selection interface being a case in point.

    Leaving aside the media capabilities that we can safely assume, my judgment of the tablet will be based on whether it looks likely that it will eventually run a few litmus test applications well enough: Bento, OmniGraffle, Keynote, TextWrangler and Perl 6. I won't need all of them, but might find it harder to justify without at least a couple.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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