Are iOS and the iPhone looking a bit dated?
Strictly from an aesthetic point of view, are the iPhone and iOS starting to look a bit dated?
I can't see them changing their design ethic any time soon though.
"(...) settings, lists and contact pages are comical" <- my interpretation of this sentence was that you thought it was comical, like in cartoons, ergo childish? Sorry for my misinterpretation then.
Of course, everyone is free to despise some design elements. I just wanted to point out, that, to me, androids' design is far less comfortable in overall feeling. It's a matter of taste, no offense!
It's the same old iPhone In a good way though. You don't have to learn anything new, if you don't want to. There's new features like find my friends, cards, airport utility, etc to keep you busy, but it's similar to traveling on vacation and going to a chain restaurant because you know it's going be good. In the Northeast Legal Seafoods is a great restaurant for those who love nature's swimming food. And if I'm traveling, hungry and in a place where there's not a good looking local place that I've heard about and I see Legal, that's exactly where I'm going. For people who want their phone to simply work and new tasks to be easily mastered, iOS wins
Now, in terms of being first to market, there a lot of great apps/games that you have to pay for. Once you build up a collection of apps you've paid for, it's painful to switch operating systems. Xbox has done the same thing in that even after people get the RRoD they still buy another Xbox because they bought the controllers, games, hard drive, etc. I am in no way saying that the iPhone and Apple are being outdone by the competition like the Xbox vs PS3. That's a different argument, but there are some similarities that iPhone detractors complain about such as screen size, inability to use Swype, no removable media and extra adapters to connect to HDMI.
Though people complain about how much of a pain iTunes is, my guess is that less than 50% of people with Android phones actively manage their music/videos/podcasts the way that iPhone owners can manage their media with iTunes. Everyone with a computer that I know has iTunes on it. Yes iTunes can slow the speed of that computer to a near halt, but it's already there, people know how to use it and it easy to search for songs/apps/games that you want to put on your iDevice.
Is there a better way to do this? No. It's been like this on computers for basically 30 years. You click, or double-click on an app icon to launch an app in a WIMP UI. There may be other ways to do this with voice, CLI, gestures and stuff, but what they've got now is the most simplistic and elegant way to open apps, especially for new users. Arguably, it is the lowest energy way, lowest cognitive loads, to use a phone.
I predict a century from now, this is basically the way people will use phones, even if the computer is implanted in our eyes and the display projected right onto our retinas.
When they refine Siri, maybe people will use that to start apps sometimes, but looking at a field of icons (or tiles in MS vernacular) is foundational to how we see and identify things. I actually think CLI (command+space bar, then shortcut text) would be great to, but that takes time to acclimate.
Btw, when I look at the TIMN pictures, the ICS screen looks hideous, with poor information display, hideous clock, transparent search bar, cartoony icon design, and no icon names in ICS' dock thing.
An OS vendor can enable more complicated methods, that take a bit to learn but may be faster after learning, but I don't see how one can get away with presenting a grid of icons, which you agree is fundamental.
One can add widgets, but obviously that's not Apple's way. They distill to the simplest form possible to make the user's course of action blatant. They aren't totally successful with it, but that's what they try to do.
Calling it outdated is the wrong word. Maybe boring. I'm sure it is boring to people who like change, but in the end, the basic function of an operating system is to find and run apps. Finding data too, but Apple is choosing to abstract the file system away from the user, and they can only see their data through apps. What they've stayed with is basically the fundamental function of iOS: apps. I don't see how any WIMP UI can get away with doing anything else.
The iPhone still looks like a work of art even though it has been around for 16 months or so. The Nexus certainly looks nice, but design wise, it doesn't exactly stand out. The Nexus looks gigantic. Size wise, it is very convenient for me being able to operate my iPhone with one hand, although I suspect I would appreciate a slightly larger screen. With continued Siri integration, one handed operation may become a moot point regardless of phone size. We'll see.
iOS UI Refresh
Its nice that the iOS interface is clean and has no bloatware to muck it up. However, the iOS UI could probably use a refresh next time around. It has gone through some minor tweaks since the initial release. How many years went by before XP had any significant UI updates? Apple seems to maintain iOS compatibility across three versions of its phones, so I imagine that when the 3GS gets dropped from additional iOS upgrades, Apple will have more flexibility with respect to the UI.
I like that microsoft are getting creative around this with the tiles. I also like the widget/icon combo UI in Android and the widgets in ICS definitely look fantastic. However, apart from them and HTC's widgets, the quality of many third party widgets are pretty poor. They can turn the swish glossy homescreen into an ugly kludge.