Imagine if, to turn on your iPhone, all you had to do was pick it up and look at the screen. And to take a picture, you just aimed your iPhone at an object.
These are some of the many conceptual proposals for the future of the iPhone, rendered by Jiang Hongming of Tao Technologies.
Hongming’s vision, presented on Medium confidently with the headline “iOS 8 Design, Steve Jobs will like if he is still alive,” is for an iPhone defined by its gestures rather than by its icons. Some of Apple’s most clever iPhone breakthroughs, such as Slide to Unlock, have been thrown to the wayside in interest of both naturalistic and contrived motions:
Pick up to unlock and…
…lift to photograph.
What’s interesting about the ideas is that they aren’t totally quack sci-fi proposals. Each interaction is theoretically possible using Apple’s new M7 (motion detecting) chip and the on-board light sensor (the same light sensor that turns off your iPhone’s touch screen when you place your phone against your ear today).
But where Hongming goes off the rails a bit is pretty much every other idea that follows–like cramming all of your apps onto one page (amusing, but not practical), deleting apps with swipes (think about how many times a day you’d accidentally delete your apps), and stretching apps full screen over your battery and signal indicators (which buys a measly 5% more screen real estate at the cost of your phone dying out of nowhere).
At the end of the video, in an M. Night Shyamalanian twist, Hongming reveals that he has a patent on everything you’ve just seen–and indeed, he and his corporation have applied for hundreds of patents (how defensible they each are in court is another matter).
That said, Hongming has illustrated two points extremely well. One, that gesture has an extraordinary amount of potential to make the iPhone work even more intuitively than it does today. And two, that sprinkling too many of these ideas onto the same sundae just melts the whole experience into ill-defined mush.