Lessons learned from the iPhone
So I bought an iPhone a month ago, and needless to say I'm very impressed by it. I knew since that day when I was spastically refreshing engadget as they posted Job's keynote, that this device was a game changer. Though my natural disdain for Apple's pretentious commercials swayed my opinion back to skeptic. "Yeah, I can check my email and surf the web on my Windows Mobile phone too, so WHAT?!" But I couldn't resist for long, and as usual I bought myself the thing that my wife was planning on buying me for Christmas.
I have to say that this is a revolutionary device. I know I'm late to the party on iPhone praise, but there are a couple interesting things I realized while I tried to find excuses to use it every hour of every day.
The first is a sort of reassurance I get through the similarities I see to Doodlekit. The design philosophies are very much the same, and it's good to see that such an opinionated device can be so widely accepted.
More importantly however, it's finally allow me to quantify why simple is better. Before I could sit down and explain examples of why simplicity is key, but it was never so clear cut.
My old Windows Mobile device had a lot of features and applications, more than the iPhone. But here's the thing, I never used them. However I find myself using every single application on my iPhone. The problem with the WinMo phone is that I was distracted by choices. For example if I wanted to write down a note, I could create a Word document, Excel Spreadsheet, or one of the scribble pad notes. My mind would weigh the pros and cons, then I'd finally just decide to write it down on paper. On my iPhone I just have Notes, and I use them all the time now.
Cut the Unnecessary
I was kind of surprised that the iPhone didn't come with a Todo list. This seems like such an essential smartphone application. Yet I realized that wait a minute, I never used the Todo list on my old phone. My problem was that I would put things on my Todo list that were hard to remember, but I could never remember to look at my Todo list. I tried a few web based Todo lists, but ended up with a much better solution. Now when I need to remember to do something like get new tags for my car, I put it in my Calendar. This way I set a date and time that I need to do it and it reminds me that I need to do it. Not only that, but now I have a history of when I did things.
The iPhone engineers were able to step back and look at how people will really use this phone, and didn't dilute it with the unecessary 10%. So many software companies are afraid to think for their customers, when in the end, that's what the customers are paying for.
Simplicity gives way to fluid and natural actions by eliminating distractions and only focusing on what you really need. I couldn't put it into words like that before.