From the DF Archive: iPhone First Impressions

My thoughts and first impressions of the original iPhone from 10 years ago:

Real-time dragging is such a priority that if the iPhone can’t keep up and render what you’re dragging in real-time, it won’t even try, and you get a checkerboard pattern reminiscent of a transparent Photoshop layer until it catches up (typically, an instant later). I.e. iPhone prioritizes drag animation over the rendering of the contents; feel over appearance.

This was a profound change in priorities from the Mac. In the early years of Mac OS X, Mac hardware wasn’t powerful enough to render the Aqua user interface. Scrolling was slow, and when you resized windows, it felt really slow, because the interface was trying to keep up. The OS tried its best to render everything in real-time even if it couldn’t.

The original iPhone likewise wasn’t powerful enough to render the user interface, notably while scrolling long web pages. Rather than try to keep up, the iPhone would just show that checkboard, which could scroll as fast as your fingers could swipe. Prioritizing feeling fast over visual fidelity made the experience better. One of many brilliant decisions by the original iPhone team, and I suspect a lesson learned from Mac OS X’s debut half a decade earlier.

I’ve always had strong feelings on the design of note-taking apps:

Notes: The weakest app on the iPhone. Cosmetically, it’s a train wreck. The entire iPhone UI is set in one typeface — Helvetica — and it’s gorgeous. But Notes, in a lame attempt to be “friendly”, displays a UI that looks like a pad of yellow legal paper, and uses the handwriting-esque Marker Felt as the font for note text. This is not adjustable. Marker Felt is silly, ugly, and worst of all, hard to read.

Friday, 30 June 2017