More Consistency

Scott Forstall, and his penchant for the over-the-top skeuomorphs in iOS, is leaving Apple and Jony Ive will be leading Human Interface for iOS (in addition to his duties as SVP of Industrial Design).

Wow.

If you’re like me, and always annoyed by the discrepancy between the clean, minimal aesthetic of Apple’s hardware and the sometimes overly indulgent aesthetic of iOS, this executive shake-up signals an end to it.

The days are numbered for the torn-off sheets in the Notes app, stitched leather in the To Do app and reel-to-reel in the Podcasts app. I can appreciate the thoroughness with which these skeuomorphs have been implemented, but they’re just too much.

Expect more consistency between Apple hardware and software moving forward.

Decentralized

GigaOm: Sandy takes out Gawker, Huffpo other sites

It’s ironic these websites went down.

The Internet as we know it today is based on ARPANET, with the defining characteristic of being a decentralized network. ARPANET started as a project within the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1960’s.

While the design of the Internet doesn’t specifically dictate for individual websites to always be accessible, companies like Gawker and Huffpo should have the resources for more than one New York-based cluster of servers.

Load balancing, anyone?

A Soft Sell

Last night, while I was watching the San Francisco Giants win the World Series, I saw commercials for Apple’s new Retina MacBook Pro 13 and Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. It got me thinking about the differences in marketing software products versus marketing hardware products to regular people in their homes, not in their offices.

In the ‘traditional’ business world of yesteryear, the IT department decided when to upgrade your machine to the latest version of Windows. We’re clearly not in that world anymore. Now Macs can run Windows via Parallels or VMWare, CEOs carried their iPads into meetings and you can use Google Docs to open Word and Excel files. This is the world Windows 8 is launching in and I’m skeptical how many average, non-nerdy people will be upgrading their PCs (if they’re compatible) versus A) leaving their current PC as it is and/or B) buying a new piece of hardware—be it laptop, desktop or tablet.

I think it’s really hard to sell software to people when it’s not wrapped around a piece of hardware. One of the reasons iOS 6 adoption reached over 60% after just a month after release is because it was free and all it required was hitting UPDATE in the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

Windows 8 looks great in the new commercials (and to people who don’t know about all the loose ends still in it), but when it’s up against commercials for a Windows RT-powered Surface, it’s a soft sell.

And while I’m on the topic of Windows RT, it’s important to mention another mess Microsoft might be making and eventually be stepping into. Windows RT and Windows 8 both use the same Metro-style interface so it’s making the lines fuzzy between the two OSes. Sure, Microsoft’s whole goal is to prove Apple wrong and show there are no lines between PCs and tablets, but there are. Windows 8 can’t run on all Windows tablets including the Surface.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, after watching commercials for Surface, some non-nerdy guy or gal buys a new all-in-one desktop PC running Windows 8, brings it home, fires it up, and tries to *swipe* across the screen to move the tiles, only to discover they can’t because the screen is not a capacitive, multi-touch screen.

Soft and fuzzy are good things to have in a stuffed animal, but not your product marketing.

Work and Play

This past Thursday, CNBC’s Jon Fortt spoke with Steve Ballmer about the new Microsoft Surface (via The Loop). Ballmer explained how neither Google nor Apple “has a product that you can use, that lets you work and play, that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any of those price points.”

Ballmer’s got a point.

I wish there were both games for the iPad as well as business applications.

I also wish Apple and third party vendors had figured out how to make magnetic smart covers and keyboards for the iPad.

Time Control

The image below is a scan from Rules and Regulations Governing Employees Engaged in Operation of the New York City Transit System (Whew). It belonged to my grandfather who worked for the Transit System in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

time_control.jpg

I’ve posted more over at Famous But Unknown.

Scoring & Compromise

I still believe the Verge’s scoring system is complete bullshit.

Joshua Topolsky reviewed Microsoft Surface and gave it a score of 7.0 (out of a total 10) and yet says this in his summary:

The promise of the Surface was that it could deliver a best-in-class tablet experience, but then transform into the PC you needed when heavier lifting was required. Instead of putting down my tablet and picking up my laptop, I would just snap on my keyboard and get my work done. But that’s not what the Surface offers, at least not in my experience. It does the job of a tablet and the job of a laptop half as well as other devices on the market, and it often makes that job harder, not easier. Instead of being a no-compromise device, it often feels like a more-compromise one.

With those sentiments, how the hell do you arrive at a 7.0?

The Verge gave the iPad (3rd generation) a score of 9.3—the highest they’ve given to a tablet. Given that Topolsky says Surface “does the job of a tablet and the job of a laptop half as well as other devices”, then one should conclude the highest score it should receive is a 4.7.

Are they giving Surface brownie points for the *click* sound the keyboard covers make and the pretty colors they come in?

After reading the Wired and (extensive) Ars Technica reviews of Surface, I’d like to adjust my original feeling Surface is half-baked. It now seems to me that the problem with Surface (and Windows RT) isn’t so much that it’s half-baked, but that it’s trying to be everything, and in doing so is doing no one thing great.

Ironically, by claiming they “won’t compromise” on desktop and tablet experiences, they’re clearly comprimising both.

This is unfortunate, because like the Palm Pre (and webOS), I was really hoping Surface (and WIndows RT) would be a solid contender to the iPad (and iOS).

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