If you’ve wondered about the cumulative benefits of minimalistic design, take a look at this comparision of Dell’s xPS 15z and Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro. Even the shape and lettering of the keyboard keys reflect a profound difference in aesthetic and build quality.
Apple’s keynote video reveals an exquisite animation introduced to resolve a delicate design problem as you enter the Tracks editor in GarageBand for iPad.
The scene: while recording an instrument and deep in the creative flow, the user taps the Tracks icon to edit the recording. The problem: how do you get the user from the instrument to the mixer without disturbing that creative flow? The solution: transition gracefully from instrument to mixer by animating the instrument into the mixer track for that instrument.
Let’s walk though the video to deconstruct the animation in greater detail:
The animation begins in the Smart Instrument view when you choose Tracks (57:09 in the Apple video).
You can see the recorded track in green just above the guitar’s wood surface, and chord names (Em, Am…Bb, Bdim) running across the guitar’s sound hole.
Hide the chord names
The first animation phase hides the chord names, which you can see are no longer visible. Why did the designers choose to hide the chord names? Perhaps because rendered text can sometimes look strange during perspective transforms.
Pivot the guitar away
The second animation phase begins pivoting the guitar face up and away. The perspective you see is important, because the guitar face is being
pivoted in tandem with the final mixer track representing the guitar, the animation guiding the eye from one to the other seamlessly.
Still in the second animation phase, you see the first hint of the mixer track appearing. That hint of white in the lower-left corner is the guitar icon appearing on the mixer track. You can also see the time marker already horizontally aligned with the time marker in the recorded track above.
Pivot the mixer track into view
Now late in the second animation phase, the guitar face is nearly gone and the mixer track is clearly positioned in 3D at a right angle to the guitar face, as though parallel to the guitar’s side. Hard to describe, but imagine the mixer track taped to the side of the guitar, then turning the guitar onto its back to reveal the mixer track.
When the second animation phase ends, the mixer track has completed replaced the guitar, but the recorded track in green at the top still hasn’t moved. Moving the recorded track onto the mixer track represents the third phase of the animation, which will also unite the two time markers.
Move the recorded track onto the mixer track
The third phase of the animation begins, sliding the recorded track downwards towards the mixer track.
As the recorded track descends it changes color and reveals the individual notes within the recording.
The fourth phase animates a number of other elements to their final appearance: the toolbar icon appears, the backgrounds fade into view, and the mixer frame at the far right appears.
The Plaza in New York now offers iPads in all guest rooms and suites. How nice to just grab the iPad to order room service, request a wake-up call, or print a boarding pass (which is delivered to your room).
It’s still surprising how much value iPad has shaken loose, and how quicky.
When people argue that websites are superior to apps because websites work on all platforms and apps do not, they forget that this matters more to people creating websites than to those using apps.
When they argue that websites are usable immediately whereas apps must be downloaded, they exaggerate the burden of downloading and the immediacy of websites, and ignore the speed and convenience of apps once downloaded.
When they argue that websites can be updated more frequently, they disregard the problems that can cause.
But what they overlook most crucially is that apps are yours. Websites are remote, and controlled remotely. Apps are with you, controlled by you. The difference is emotional, and powerful.
On your iOS device, open Maps and you’re in the map. The data for that map is retrieved remotely, but it’s brought to you. In contrast, when you visit a maps site on the web, that’s exactly what you’re doing—you’re visiting somewhere else. Similar functionality, profoundly different feeling.
Websites are somewhere else, and they’re someone else’s. Apps are here, and they’re yours.
Steve Jobs announced this morning that he is taking a second medical leave from Apple. Since his first medical leave in 2009 he’s led the company to excellence. The future for Apple couldn’t look brighter.
Consider the fact that purely on its design merits, iPad can be disinfected for use near patients. Because it has no gaping seams and it’s really just two pieces of glass and metal, it can be wiped down very easily and accompany medical staff as they move from patient to patient. Few mobile devices can make this claim.
Not just a blank slate, but a clean one too. How cool is that?
Long popup menus are awkward. Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines recommend limiting them to 12 items. Any more than that, the Guidelines explain, and you’re better off with a scrolling list.
But I think the Guidelines overlook how educational long popup menus can be. Today I discovered Wallis and Futuna, which Wikipedia says is a Polynesian French island territory in the South Pacific with land area of 264 square kilometers and a population of about 15,000.
In addition to offering a traditional album, a growing number of wedding photographers are starting to sell Apple iPad computer tablets, pre-loaded with hundreds of photos and video of the couple’s engagement, wedding and reception – some with lavish digital layouts and multi-media presentations.
This only works because the iPad is itself both beautiful and intuitive. A photographer would need to be confident in both these qualities before presenting an iPad as an option.