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Exit ArchiveArchive for June 22nd, 2007

If you can believe it, there are still people out there who think the iPhone is going to be a horrible failure. They think the iPhone is not that great a device. Everything it’s done has been done before.


I have been drooling over the features of the iPhone since I saw Steve J.’s keynote in January (watch entire keynote via podcast from iTunes or the iPhone announce via QuickTime stream). Now, there’s a 25-minute “guided tour” of the iPhone that shows, without question, that Apple has created a device that is so simple to use, so fun to use, that any iPhone nay-sayers should just pack up their Motorola Qs and go home.

(If the above link to the guided tour doesn’t work, try this direct link to the large-size video.)

One thing that strikes me as important about the iPhone is the design of its icons. Icons on PCs and even Macs have become a bit confusing. Some icons are so well-designed that you know what they are for. But most applications these days have so many icons, and the icons are so poorly designed, you need to have text below the icon to know what it is. Failing that, most buttons and icons now in applications and on the Internet allow you to hover over them with your mouse so that you may bring up a pop-up box explaining what the icon does. (The links in this post have pop-ups, even.)

Since the iPhone is a touch-screen device, you do not have the luxury of hovering over an icon or button to wait for a pop-up that tells you what it does. You have to know what it does simply by sight. Just like in the olden days of computer GUIs. The icons on the iPhone do this with great success. Sure, most of the icons have text as well, but really, when you’re on one call and have another on hold, can you even doubt for a moment what the merging arrow icon does? Right. Exactly. Or to swap the calls, does the curvy double-headed arrow not tell you that, hey, this button will swap my calls? No, it does.

Tiny details, as always, are the clincher for good design. Notice how you can flick up or down in a list on the iPhone and the list flies up or down in that direction? Notice how the speed is determined by the speed of your finger flick? How the scrolling slows down? All fantastic. We’ve been seeing this design feature since January. The tiny clincher detail, that you can see for the first time in the guided tour video, is being able to stop the scrolling by simply touching the list. Well, duh!

All of that sounds rather obvious, but that’s what so brilliant about the GUI of the iPhone. It makes sense. No one else has done that on any other phone. Trust me, they will try and try and try in the coming years to emulate this GUI, but no one will have the smarts, the money, or the patience to do it well.

The iPhone, even here in its v1.0 incarnation, is a marvel. It literally gets my adrenaline up to see such a beautiful device with such a functional interface. The bad news for me is that, according to rumor, anyone with a business account will not yet be allowed to switch to an iPhone-compatible account. I have a business account through work, and so, as much as I want to wait in line next Friday to get a shiny new iPhone, I can’t because it won’t work. Thanks, AT&T.

I will have an iPhone. If not next week, then the instant I’m allowed to by AT&T. I can finally trash my Nokia. I can toss my malfunctioning Palm. I can finally get the address book and calendar on my Mac and my phone/PDA to be in sync. And I can browse the Wren Forum in its full glory!