User Interfaces Need To Evolve

This post titled Don’t Mimic Real-World Interfaces really resonated with me and reminded me of a post that I had done a while ago titled Evolution Of The Mobile Experience.

There have always been those few apps that insist on looking like their physical, real world, equivalent. Calculator apps, date books, calendars, note taking apps, “stickies” — you know what I am talking about. Despite there being better options out there, better ways of displaying the data, designers stick with the known representation of the tool.

Now, though, Apple is taking it too far.

If you have seen any of the screenshots linked across the web about the new iCal interface you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t seen those, iCal is looking a lot like it does on the iPad right now in Lion’s developer preview. It’s ugly, and we should be way past this style by now.

Ugly and harder to use than it should be. Designers need to focus on how to allow the user to fluidly access and manipulate their data not slavishly stick to the limitations of physical items.

Another dimension of this is how poorly developers/designers have approached the touch interface. The industry seems to be mired in button-driven-pull-a-menu-to-do-anything paradigm. Interfaces really need to take better advantage of long-tap context options and gestures to make the interactions more fluid. This is one of the things that drives me bonkers about the iPad – it is so modal; I have to close one app to do something in another. I guess I have gotten used to how easy it is in Android to just share data between apps without having to change apps.

Speaking of Android apps, I think that Feedly is the first really usable news reader that I have encountered on Android. I subscribe to a lot of feeds and that seems to be the death of most readers on mobile devices because the developers thought it would be a good idea to download all your feed updates at once. This typically results in the app going away for a long time. Feedly does it more on demand. And they are clever about using gestures in the app – swipe down and to the left and I have marked that page of articles read and moved on to the next. Brilliant. Much better than ‘pull menu, select mark read, select next page, close menu’ annoyance of other apps.

Why Are Downtown Cincinnati Bloggers So Bitter?

I spent a little time this morning browsing the blogs of people who live in downtown Cincinnati. After about 10 minutes I had to stop. Why do they all seem so bitter and angry? On one hand, they spent a fair amount of time talking about how great it is to live downtown, then turn and belittle people who come down from the (evil) suburbs to partake of the urban greatness. Leaves me wondering why I should hang out downtown with such cliquish bitter crowd.

They also seem to love to hate on people who have chosen to live in the ‘burbs (apparently all they we do is drive SUVs and go to the mall). We have nothing entertaining to do, nothing interesting to eat and nothing worthy to see. Look, downtown folks, it is all about choices; I made mine and you made yours – it doesn’t make either one of us right or wrong.

Does the anger and bitterness come from a perceived lack of awe at the downtown living decision? Should there be weekly articles in the local press about how wonderful the people who live downtown are? Do they not feel vindicated by their decision, don’t feel revered enough that they chose to live downtown? And where is the line? I am sure it exists. That is, the line beyond which you are no longer ‘downtown’ enough to be part of the in-crowd. Yikes, now I am doing it to. Downtown folks, here is what I have for you: respect. Care to share?

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to live downtown; especially if I worked downtown. But I don’t. I work in the evil suburbs (Blue Ash) and live in the even more evil exurbs (Union Township). I enjoy being able to commute to work on my Vespa. I enjoy being a few miles from the fantastic Little Miami Bike trail; my wife and I love to cycle down to Loveland for brunch on sunny Sundays. I am sure I enjoy a pint at the Brazenhead just as much as I would at the Lackman. I like that my daughter has a fantastic school system to attend. I enjoy having the largest YMCA in the country a few mile from my home. I enjoy not being able to see my neighbor’s houses. I enjoy having a large vegetable garden that feeds us through part of the year. Besides, looking at what condos are going for downtown I would pay about twice as much for what amounts to a two bedroom apartment as I paid for my three bedroom house on five acres of land here in the heart of evil-dom.

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