Ralph Shao

omg ninjas Ralph Shao © 2018
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Tomorrow, we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning —

Let's compare apples to apples

As expected, the loudest criticisms of the iOS 7 preview are that it looks too much like Windows or Android. The side by side comparison with the Windows phone is quite revealing, actually.

Forgetting for a moment that I've become quite the Apple fan in recent years, what bothers me about these sorts of comparison articles is that it cheapens the design of an operating system. These reviewers either choose to forget or disregard that to an end user, the experience with a product is not split into a hardware experience versus a software experience; it's not split into an app experience versus an operating system experience. The end user experiences a product as a single holistic interaction with the entirety of the product.

To Nokia and Microsoft's credit, I think Windows Phone and the Lumia 920 do an excellent job of thinking of the unified end user experience. It does a great job of considering how each screen interacts in the bigger context of holding the entire device. It did a great job of rejecting the over-embellished skeumorphism trend. The big blemish, however, was using underpowered hardware, that didn't allow its brilliant software to shine as well as it should have. I think this is the reason Apple includes those demos of Infinity Blade in its new iPhone announcements. This is also where the Lumia 920 failed to deliver.

Most of the criticisms I see try to isolate what should be a seamless product, the iPhone, into its constituent parts and take potshots in a vacuum. They forget that iOS is not a standalone offering -- it is the software face of the iPhone. Too often, these criticisms simply end up being somewhere between straw man arguments and a fallacy of composition. Did Notification Center take after Android's notifications or tweaks from the jailbreak community? Sure. Do the various screens in iOS 7 take after screens from Windows Phone and Android? Sure. Did Apple come up with these ideas first? Apparently not. Have these changes in iPhone and iOS created a better product that continues to delight its consumers? Fuck yes, they do.

I think the proper comparison for iOS 7 isn't to Android or Windows; it's to iOS 6. We're only in the first developer beta of iOS 7 so far (and I hesitate to install it since I won't be able to build to device on it from Xcode 4.6.2), so I'll hold my opinion on it until it's more fully baked. From what I've seen so far though, the changes are in the right direction. If the redesign of iOS 7 makes an iPhone user's experience with their devices more enjoyable, I think it's a win. If the redesign of iOS 7 validates the Android, Windows Phone, and jailbreaking communities in their choices for certain feature sets, I think that's also a win.

The one question that matters at the end of the day: Are users now more delighted by the products they use and love?

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