iPad: A User Interface Revolution

Excellent perspective by Jesus Diaz, citing the work of Jef Raskin:

The iPhone is the information appliance that Raskin imagined at the end of his life: A morphing machine that could do any task using any specialized interface. Every time you launch an app, the machine transforms into a new device, showing a graphical representation of its interface. There are specialized buttons for taking pictures, and gestures to navigate through them. Want to change a song? Just click the “next” button. There are keys to press phone numbers, and software keyboards to type short messages, chat, email or tweet. The iPhone could take all these personalities, and be successful in all of them.

When it came out, people instantly got this concept. Clicking icons transformed their new gadget into a dozen different gadgets. Then, when the app store appeared, their device was able to morph into an unlimited number of devices, each serving one task.

In this new computing world there were no files or folders, either. Everything was database-driven. The information was there, in the device, or out there, floating in the cloud. You could access it all through all these virtual gadgets, at all times, because the iPhone is always connected.

Apple’s announcement is scheduled for 27 January 2010, and the world will be watching. Oh, and it does exist, via Cult of Mac:

According to mobile analytics company Flurry, the Apple Tablet isn’t just a very real product, but they’ve detected up to fifty of them floating through Cupertino, running a new version of the iPhone OS numbered 3.2.

The data comes from Flurry’s tracking code, present in some App Store apps. Around 200 of these apps — mostly games — were downloaded onto this mystery device with the “characteristics” of a Tablet, starting in October and picking up in January.

If Flurry’s assessment if correct, it means that the Tablet — or at least Tablet prototype devices — do indeed run iPhone apps natively, without any necessary modifications. The problem is that Flurry doesn’t actually specify what the “characteristics” of a Tablet are, so it’s hard to know for sure that what they are seeing is the Tablet. If their whole theory rests upon seeing a higher resolution device, say, Flurry might just be looking at a prototype iPhone HD… a device that is pretty much a given when Apple refreshes the iPhone line in June, considering the recent strides made in display resolutions by the likes of the HTC Nexus One.

Tablet or no, Apple’s clearly testing out a new version of the iPhone operating system, so that’s something, but only Wednesday will tell exactly which device it’s running on.

Nice buzz from Apple, which actually makes something instead of talking about it.

So it’s simple really. If you make a product that turns the culture upside down, drives stock price and reconfigures other industries, you step to the stage amid a herald of trumpets and perform magic.

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