Over the July 4th holiday weekend, with patriotism and fireworks in the air, some colleagues and I began discussing the concept of American Design -- that is, the design characteristics and elements that are distinctly and recognizably ?American.?
Over the past week, both Microsoft and Apple previewed their new desktop operating systems. Both explicitly pull their interactions from their respective smartphone user interfaces. Here's Microsoft's Windows 8:
The start screen appears to be a super-sized version of the Windows Phone 7 user interface, with tiles that provide summary information about "apps" (apparently we can't call them 'programs' or "applications" anymore). The desktop interface can be manipulated through various touch gestures (or quaintly via mouse), much like Apple's forthcoming Lion OS, previewed here:
There has been a long history of less-than-successful kitchen gadgets, from the automatic potato peeler to Internet-enabled refrigerators. Many of these design concepts fail because they either miss the mark or because they assume people will adapt their behaviors to accommodate the concepts, rather than the other way around.
Most activities taking place in kitchens are neither cooking nor eating.
It's challenging enough to design a single effective interface for a product or application. Now, driven by technological advances and rising consumer expectations, a growing number of products can present multiple methods for interaction, at least under certain contexts.
I've heard design described as "art within constraints," and among the most important constraints that designers must be aware of are patents. Patents can not only inform designers of intellectual property that is off limits, but also, what is possible.
While Antenna Gate is causing all the static around Apple these days, it's not so much the specific technical issue that concerns me as much as what it represents. It's a glaring failure in the near-perfectionism of Steve Jobs's second era at Apple.
I had a college science professor who was infamous for the phrase "The less tangible, the more concrete." In other words, those factors in the world that seemed the most abstract--time, light, gravity--were actually the most real, consistent and measurable (although gravity always seemed pretty tangible to me).