Wednesday, March 12, 2008

iPhone, you've put me in a bad mood

I don't own an iPhone. But I've seen them. And I love them. I think they're great. I want one.

But here's the problem. Lately, every time I look at (or try to use) any other phone, I get extremely irritated by the absolutely horrendous junk that phone companies are willing pass off as human-friendly interface design. I watch Robin and various friends happily and effortlessly navigate through all sorts functionality like it's the most fun they've had all day. Their phone experience is enjoyable. Heck, sometimes it looks freakin’ inspirational. When I look over their shoulders, I see elegance and beauty. I see graphic design that says "Come enjoy me. Let me share the experience of thoughtful interface design with you." Yes, I want to touch those gorgeous buttons. The path to enlightenment and productivity seems so clear.

My phone rings. I look at it. I'm sick. It's ugly. But if I just answer it and talk I'll be OK. Just in the name of all that's holy in interface design please don't make me have to look up a number or find a message. And oh merciful Heaven, don't tempt me send an email. Arrrrrghhhh!

When I look at my phone, I see an interface that says "So what if this interface is unintelligible? It's good enough for you, as long as our engineers can make it work. It's the actual communication capability that's important. So we're going to just keep giving you this crap as long as we can get away with it. Which is probably going to be for a very long time because all of us phone people like it the way it is. And it would be impossible at this point in history for some newcomer to break into our world and change things."





Take a look at the phone interface below that's in our office. Then look at an iPhone. Can you see a difference? Does the office phone now look more like a device that Shakespeare might have used to call his boyfriend? (See The Sonnets in The First Portfolio)

Or perhaps a nuclear trigger device in the Pentagon?

I'm just surprised you don't have to type something like "C://" to make a phone call.


Maybe someday our office phone will be as elegant as the iPhone. Or maybe not. It probably depends on whether or not Apple expands its mobile phone business and moves into that market. Meanwhile, if you call, don't be surprised if I don't answer. That ringing sound can sometimes trigger disabling anger management issues that I blame on the iPhone.