Liberation of the physical interface

Posted on Tuesday 9 January 2007

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Apple today announced what was too big to really keep secret even by apples NSA strength standards… the iPhone. The svelte sexy device is the answer to many a techno-lust and probably a very practical merging of devices. In his clever way Steve extended his reality distortion field until we the audience, the web cast watcher and probably visible light could not escape. The phone is wonderful in many ways I am sure, and we will follow this for weeks but the single most interesting thing to me was the obvious removal of actual physical buttons for a display of the number pad on the touch screen.

I love to look at those old pictures from the fifties imagining what the year 2000 was going to look like, complete with flying cars and spacesuit clothing. Even from talented artists all over the net, the design comps all places hard button keys physically on the phone. The tyranny of the ordinary always seems to cast form factors in stone, most nokia designer probably always started with a template of keys that needed to be included in each design thereby taking away valuable real estate from the design.

Jobs is a master at looking “different”,( I am sure Jonathan Ives imprint is all over this as well) nothing really happens without Jobs looking and approving so the idea that you can start from scratch and get rid of physical buttons is simple in its genius.

So the lesson really is that innovation is not hard technically, but looking at things in new ways should be the norm and not the exception in any kind of development. Throw out what is not useful and assume that you’ve been looking at things too narrowly and you probably have been.

Cheers Jobs and all of Apple for another fresh take!


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