What the new OSX means for design

Today Apple gave a sneak-peak at their forthcoming Mac OSX named “Lion.” They took a critical eye to the iPad user experience, and brought many of them “back to Mac.”

Some thoughts on the key features:

An App Store for the desktop: Was WIRED right about the death of the web? By reducing the cost and effort of installing applications, Apple closes the gap on web apps, but with a great desktop experience, and money in the pockets of developers. Over time, might this put pressure on web-app developers to be more “app like?” What would that be like?

Launchpad: A home for your apps that looks just like an iPad or iPhone. This makes the Mac look and feel more like an iOS device, reducing the barrier to adoption: learn once, buy all. More importantly, this changes the icon/desktop file system metaphor we’ve had for 25 years (also the thing that usability professionals know people struggle the most with.)

Full-screen apps: This allows designers to create more innovative, elegant, fully immersive experiences that don’t necessarily look like the OS–and that could mean UI innovation.

What do you think?

I think this: http://10gui.com/ is the future.

Oh no!

I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

Okay, I’ll stop complaining like a small child and grow up a little bit. I’ll complain like an adolescent.

Quickly, I’ll give you a little background so you know where I’m coming from. I have an iPhone and an iPad; I love them both.

The iPad iOS, however, is terrible. It’s not that it functions poorly… it’s just… lazy! On the one hand, I understand the benefit to making it just like the iPhone OS; it can be easily navigated by anyone who has used an iPhone.

But that’s the problem! It’s not an iPhone! The entire user experience is completely different on an iPad than on an iPhone.

It’s not like apple doesn’t know this, either. The best apps (including apple apps like the calendar) are tailored to the new device. The iphone “launchpad” is archaic and silly on this big screen. Surely apple could have come up with a better way to get around. There should be more sweeping gestures! There should be grouping and pinching and dragging.

The best iPad apps are things that could never be done on the iPhone. They are tailor fit for the device (which is marvelous). They take advantage of the real estate.

It’s weird, I’m so happy with the iPad, while at the same time, I am so mad at it for such an easy (for apple) thing to get right.

Now they are moving it to the desktop.


Enough ranting… I should probably respond to the points you raised in your post!

I definitely think that including apps for the desktop is a good idea. It allows developers the ability to take over the entire UI more readily. Developers don’t deserve to be relegated to a window… I think a lot of good innovation will come from this sort of freedom.

So, that’s exciting.

Apple is clearly taking us there with OSX. They agree that multitouch should be handled by a pad, not the screen on keyboard-based devices. We’ve seen desktop-as-giant-multitouch control for decades, so I don’t think what they’re proposing is novel or even unexpected.

But the specifics of their concept are questionable. I’m not convinced that seeing all your fingertips on the screen would be usable vs. a single pointer. Think about it, you want to target one thing, but you’ve got 10 crosshairs on the screen and you now need to decide which one is going to take action. In that situation, who wouldn’t use their dominant index finger? And if so, why display the clutter of the other 9 fingers?

The “linear window manager” seems tedious–they say having everything in a row is simpler, but I see it as unnecessarily restrictive. I think the new OSX Mission Control feature does the same thing, better.

Yah I am not digging this interface whatsoever. I like having control of my windows. Plus why would I need more then one pointer on a screen. I’m a pretty smart guy but would I be doing more then 1 thing at a time. Not to mention WORK; how much physical work is needed in order to do anything. I can move my mouse pointer 24 inches across the screen in a split second with the flick of my wrist.