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October 20th 2011 1:55 am

Are iOS and the iPhone looking a bit dated?

I just saw a post over at "This is my next..." doing a side-by-side comparison between the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S:


Strictly from an aesthetic point of view, are the iPhone and iOS starting to look a bit dated?

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I would say this falls in line with what has always been the debate with Android vs iOS. Android is big on specs whereas iOS focuses on the experience. I think calling the iPhone dated is a bit much, it's still an incredibly impressive device by design standards. I think when the iPhone 5 gets announced we'll again see Android manufactures playing catch up.
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The iPhone 4, not quite. iOS? Definitely. It's OK really, but I despise that faux leather skin Apple is using in iOS 5. And come on! It's been 4 years since the design came out, I think the settings, lists and contact pages are comical. I message's green and blue bubbles? I can do better than that.

I can't see them changing their design ethic any time soon though.
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The bubbles-design may seem childish or cartoonish, but then again, what's wrong about children and cartoons? Just because you wear a business suit, this doesn't mean you shouldn't get a good feeling of some friendly, warm design. I was tired of all those professional looking cyberdesign you used to have in mobile phones ever since of their invention.
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What makes you think I'm suit kind of guy? Also, where did I mention childish design? All I said was that I despise some of the skins used (fair enough, right?) and that some other major features are comical. I did not mean comical in a childish way, I mean comical in a negative, "It's still alive?!" way.
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sorry, I didn't mean 'you' by 'you' - I meant something like 'someone'. (I'm luxembourgish, sometimes direct translation from luxembourgish to english kind of sucks... :) )

"(...) 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!
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No problem, no offense taken. I agree with your last point, Android's design doesn't have the warmth of iOS, but it's getting there.
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Don't confuse your nerdy/geeky need to have a new shiny and different object to explore with simplicity and first to market. I feel the same way sometimes and I'm willing to bet that plenty of iPhone 3GS owners are getting lazy about going to the Apple/ATT store to get the 4S because after unboxing and being wowed by the retina screen, processor speed, Siri, the new camera, and notifications, it's still the same old iPhone.

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.
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Nope. Not dated. Apple basically distilled the iOS homescreen to be an app launcher. They've added cruft like the multitasking tray, search and notification center, but it is still basically the same UI as the 2007 iPhone: a screen of icons where you launch apps.

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.
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I think you're wrong, especially when you say "a century from now, this is basically the way people will use phones." That's ridiculous. Maybe you don't get bored of just looking at an endless sea of app icons but most people will. Click icon, use app, home button. Click icon, use app, home button. Over and over. That gets boring. Gestures are the future way of interacting with devices. Apps like SwipePad allow you to open apps from any screen using swiping gestures. I do agree that looking at a field of icons is fundamental in identifying things but why not mix those icons up with actual data on-screen? Widgets show you information without needing to open an app. Also, you don't need icon names if the app icons are well designed and unique.
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This method that you describe for swipe pad doesn't sound much different to a home button plus swipe to find app icon to me. It's still just a method of bringing up a grid or icons or list of app names to identify where one wants to go.

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.
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Swipepad does bring up a grid of icons but the reason I like it is that you don't have to go back to the homescreen to swidtch apps. I just jump from app to app. Sometimes I'm surprised when I do go to my homescreen because I've forgotten which wallpaper I had set LoL. Isn't that how an "app launcher" is supposed to work?
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I watched some youtube videos of Swipepad. It's an edge-swipe (without lifting the finger) activated grid of application shortcuts. Nice little speedup for accessing 12 apps.

But what happens if your app isn't one of the 12? What about accidental edge-swipes?
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Work of Art
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.
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I think the iPhone still looks current. The cosmetic changes - especially with the iPhone 4 - have kept the iPhone looking futuristic and new. However, the screen size hasn't changed, unlike Android competition.
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I do think so. I never liked the icon grid. I don't like it as the main home UI. I don't understand why samsung decided make the touchwiz gingerbread app launcher look more like apples grid. (And I sure as hell don't understand how Apple are winning lawsuits around this considering, the icon grid has been around forever. ... but I digress)

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.
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