Scratching the surface

Posted on August 27, 2008


I have been using iPhone for three weeks now. Here’s a normal iPhone user daily schedule.

  • 7:00 AM: iPhone Alarm wakes me up
  • 7:01 AM: Check facebook, twitter, mySpace, Blog, School email, Gmail, company email, open MC chats, log into msn and AIM, Gmail, skype(wifi), IRC(wifi).Quickly check TODO.
  • 7:05 AM: Fully wake up. Hold iPhone and run to the bathroom. Listen to Stitcher‘s new radios. Cook breakfast, check iPhone for nutrition info.
  • 7:30 AM: Bring my iPhone(and my iPhone charger!), walk to the bus stop, read Newsstand RSS feeds, check Stanza, Jamed, NetNewsWire, and Shovel, digg news and comment on other people’s blogs.
  • 8:00 AM: On the bus stop, search iWant for local bus schedule.
  • 8:30 AM: Class begin. Use Note&Sketch to take notes, use FileMagnet to view course outline.
  • 8:35 AM: Bored. Check iGotchi and feed my pet.
  • 9:00 AM: Teacher forgot my name. Use Shout it, display “Wei Zhou” and wave to him.
  • 9:30 AM: Use Camera to take a picture of my teacher, publish through ShoZu, send it to facebook, flickr, MySpace, WordPress and Picasa.
  • 10:30 AM: Class ends, update my Diary. Play Tris, Tap Tap.
  • 11:30 AM: Run for another class, focus on teaching, Camera bad students sleep in class.
  • 12:00 AM. Break. Use VoiceNotes to record student’s requirements.
  • 1:30 PM: Starving. Check Urbanspoon for food.Drive up there using maps.Turn on Pathtracker because I’m directionally challenged. Using where to find Starbucks.
  • 2:30 PM: Graffitio notify me another CMU friend in Starbucks is using iPhone as well.Exchange cellphone number with him.Textmessage another friend to join us. Send him our location using Over Here. Share Loopt with them.
  • 3:00 PM:Another class. Bored. Use Lifecast to record class discussion.
  • 5:50 PM: End class. Repeat 1:30 PM.
  • 6:30 PM: Another class. Explore new Apps on App Store.
  • 8:30 PM: School ends. Walk back home. Study english using Blanks. Update TODO. Repeat 7:01 AM.
  • 9:30 PM: Homework time, use SnatchTest as a mouse for my Macpro.Use controller for my iTV and iPod player.
  • 10:30 PM: Play Ambient to get to sleep.

P.S.: Repeat 7:01 AM many times during the day.

What else do I need?

  • Support remote printing.
  • Every time I jump from one App to another App, the previous one stops working, I have to reopen it afterwards. That really stops my work-flow. I wish it works like Tabs in a browser(Or even better). In summery, the navigation is bad.
  • Constantly pressing the main home button is annoying. Especially when I lay on the bed, holding the iPhone with one hand, I don’t want to move another hand. Can I just do everything use one hand?
  • I wish I could track my iPhone using history.
  • Searching is painful. iPhone should have an universal Google search button on the device.
  • Typing is painful. I need a auto-type App.
  • How can I copy and paste info from one App to another???!!!
  • I need a Firefox browser App

How to design a Multi-touch interaction framework from ground up? IPhone just scratched the surface of a smart phone design – for me iPhone is a device that combines a bunch of unrelated separate gadgets together. It’s getting there, but hardly to be considered as “Smart”. Multi-touch gesture standards will be set up within next 5 years. What we need is no longer a “smart phone“, but a smart browser that embedded in a mobile device, In this way we would be able to use a series of small Apps in a meaningful combination, adjusting to people’s ever-changing task flow and context, without interrupting people’s thinking model over time(also see Ubiquity). That makes a digital device really become part of our body, like our hands and feet.

Yes. Building a variety of cool Apps is important, but not as important as arranging them in a useful way(Outsourcing part of human thinking to machines?). That applies to Small screen browser design, as well as browser for OS. Human beings are task-oriented, not tool-oriented.  Guess that’s the difference between a human and a computer.

As a designer we usually need to answer three questions:”What”, “Why”, and “How”. Here I delve into what and why, not much how. I found Aza’s blog particularly interesting –  Ambient information. Because it also talked about how. We need more “Hows”.

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