I don’t remember much about the original iPhone announcement, back in January 2007. I’m sure it was a momentous keynote and I was thoroughly impressed at the time, but as I said, I don’t remember much of it today.
I do however remember the first time I held an iPhone in my hands and experienced it in the flesh: I was visiting a mobile technology research group in Vienna and they had two new touchscreen devices on hand to try out: the original, first generation Apple iPhone and the LG Prada phone. Superficially the two devices were similar, just as today every modern smartphone is similar to every other modern smartphone: A huge, high quality capacitive touchscreen and no physical hardware keyboard (which were a common fixture on phones at the time).
On first glance the LG Prada phone almost seemed preferable to me, with its elegant, consistent and more restrained visual design language, but when I picked up both phones and started playing around with them, the superiority of the iPhone became immediately obvious: The way it reacted to touches, the immediacy and fluidity of interaction was staggering and unlike anything I had ever experienced in a phone before. At that moment it was obvious to me that Apple had created something in a league of its own, something entirely new, something that defied superficial comparison with other phones on the market. This was the future of smartphones.
I never bought the original iPhone because of limited distribution here in Austria and for its lack of 3G connectivity, but I picked up its successor, an iPhone 3G, as soon as it became available.
Lightform is an interesting little device: It does automatic mapping for full-room projection mapping, so you can hook it up to a projector and project interfaces anywhere in the room:
The device itself looks a little bit like a Kinect and the whole concept is reminiscent of Microsoft’s RoomAlive, IllumiRoom and Lightspace research projects, which isn’t entirely surprising considering that Lightform was developed by former Microsoft researcher Brett Jones, who worked on the IllumiRoom project.
I rather like the idea of augmenting the real world around us with projections because in a way it turns the traditional idea of augmented reality by wearing heads-up displays on its head. Instead of these individual, private augmented realities you get a shared, public, consensus augmented reality. Kinda like the difference between smartphones and large TVs I suppose.
You can read more about Lightform at Wired and The Verge, and for another take on automated projection mapping see Razer’s Ariana.
Brent Simmons (creator of Netnewswire, my favorite feedreader for many years) and Manton Reece recently introduced JSON Feed, a JSON based alternative format to RSS and Atom. Dave Winer, the inventor of RSS (some people might argue about this claim, but not me), also shared his reaction. I think it’s safe to assume that he’s not a big fan of new, additional formats in general, and there are certainly good reasons for that. Of note, Dave Winer already proposed a JSON-based RSS format back in 2012, but it never took off.
Nevertheless, I’m happy this exists. I went looking for a JSON-based alternative to RSS a few years ago and was surprised that there weren’t any. JSON has replaced XML as developers’ choice for APIs and data exchange on the web, and in my personal experience it is much nicer to work with than XML. Let’s just hope it gains some traction, but early signs are looking good.
Following up on that previous post about buttons: Steven Troughton-Smith’s Twitter poll with nearly three thousand votes shows opinions on the new MacBook Touch Bar to be divided:
Michael Lopp probably isn’t among its fans:
In week #3 of actively using the 15” MacBook Pro, I am delighted by its build quality. I love its weight. Last night, I found myself admiring the machining of the aluminum notch that allows me to open the computer. I type deftly on this hardware.
I am also equally deft at randomly muting my music, unintentionally changing my brightness or volume level, and jarringly engaging Siri.
[The BMW 530i is] a car that’s supposed to represent the future of “state-of-the-art” car technology, but instead of feeling indispensable, most of its tech proved to be confusing, hidden in menus, or dysfunctional.
They might not be fancy, but sometimes buttons and knobs are the best solution to a problem.
The next statement in the review is really stupid though:
After four days of driving, it seems that BMW has misplaced its focus on design rather than functionality.
I’ll just let Don Norman deal with this one:
There wasn’t a lot of things to get excited about at this year’s CES for me, but the Razer Ariana Projection System stood out:
Project Ariana projects an expanded view of a game on a wall to create a more immersive gaming experience. It’s based on Razer’s Chroma Lighting System. Microsoft presented a similar concept, Illumiroom, at CES 2013, but considering that was four years ago, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a commercial release version of that project. Hopefully Razer is more determined to bring Ariana to market.
The Apple Music app on iOS now displays an instructional card to tell users that they can scroll the viewport:
When something that should be obvious isn’t, you don’t fix it by adding instructions. Instead, you accept that your design is bad and find a better solution.
As Donald Norman wrote in his seminal book The Design of Everyday Things: “Complex things may require explanation, but simple things should not.”
HYPER-REALITY from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.
Our physical and virtual realities are becoming increasingly intertwined. Technologies such as VR, augmented reality, wearables, and the internet of things are pointing to a world where technology will envelop every aspect of our lives. It will be the glue between every interaction and experience, offering amazing possibilities, while also controlling the way we understand the world. Hyper-Reality attempts to explore this exciting but dangerous trajectory. It was crowdfunded, and shot on location in Medellín, Colombia.
This is another great piece of science fiction prototyping by Keiichi Matsuda, who previously created Domestic Robocop and Augmented City 3D.
The perfect music video for this super-disastrous election year.