I’ve been meaning to mention this topic for a while now. Some recent headlines* have been just the kickstart I needed. The growing popularity of mobile devices has signaled a major change in the way many people interact with their computing devices. This can be seen in the trajectory that Apple has taken with iOS as it has scaled up from iPhone to iPad, as well as the other major OSes available to consumers.
In turn, this new breed of Mobile OSes – optimized for touch input on small portable devices – are influencing the user interfaces of more traditional Desktop and Portable computers. The most obvious examples of this are recent moves by both Apple and Microsoft to introduce aspects of iOS or Window Mobile into both OS X and Windows 8 respectively. While the two companies take very different approaches in how they hybridize the UX among their different operating systems, there’s one clear pattern that seems to be emerging.
Consume vs. Create
There’s a growing distinction between modes of use on computing devices. This might be best simplified as Consume vs. Create modes. For example, at the moment you can’t ‘really’ build and deploy an iOS native app on a device running iOS. That task requires a computer running OS X.
The forthcoming release of Microsoft Surface aims to address this tension in a different way. However, The Surface Pro will likely continue to exacerbate the conflict between these modes as well. It may take a while for device manufacturers to fine tune their product lines to best address the needs and expectations for mobile and traditional computing devices among consumers and businesses. I think that a hybrid approach is appropriate, but the feature set must be balanced to suit each device category.
- Windows 8 Pro on Microsoft’s Surface: A usability nightmare – zdnet.com
- Why the GUI Will Never Kill the Sacred Command Line – wired.com
- What The New Microsoft Office Gets Wrong – fastcodesign.com