August 15, 2013

The Future of Human Interface, Part 2

The Loop > Magazine > Issue 8

Download The Loop Magazine on the App Store.

By Rene Ritchie

Lights and switches. Punch cards. Command lines. Graphical interfaces. Gestures. Natural language. This is where human interface has come from and where it is, but the far more difficult question, the far more interesting one, is where is it going?

The last decade has mainstreamed multi-touch, in large part because of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and begun the mainstreaming of natural language, again with Apple’s Siri. Both are more intimate, more immediate human interfaces than the intermediated prompts and pointers that came before. They let both a grandmother and a child do far more with a limited mobile device than they ever could with an limitless desktop computer. Yet both were built on top the same old interfaces we’ve been using since Mac: pixels painted just beneath a thin surface of glass. There was texture, to be sure, and animation when and where possible. There was art. But there was nothing else.

Then Apple introduced iOS 7.

Yes, the icons aren’t to everyone’s liking. Yes, the typeface—and the rawness of the type—have been controversial. But those are superficial things. Those are distractions. It’s not the design of iOS 7 that’s going to go down as the next big thing in the history of human interface. It’s the architecture.

To hear Apple tell it, iOS 7 was all about clarity, depth, and deference. Poppycock. What iOS 7 was really about was objectification, gamification, and instantiation. iOS 7 represents nothing more or less than the mainstreaming of dynamic interface.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to The Loop magazine on the App Store from your iPhone or iPad.