Can we be wowed?
This past Thursday Apple held a developers preview of iPhone 4.0, and like many others I followed along via various live blogs that were taking place to disseminate the information. Later Apple posted its preview, which I watched that night.
While Apple provided me with almost every feature that I wanted except for a better notification system, I was left feeling like there should have been more. I wanted to be wowed by them, I wanted to be presented with a game changing update. I wanted more.
My fiancÚ thinks I am being unreasonable. She kept asking me "what did you want them to do, what feature was going to wow you?"
I have been pondering that question for the last few days. I have been trying to decide what it was that I wanted, what feature set would have made me say wow. The truth of the matter is that I can't think of anything. At least not anything that would mesh with the iPhone. If Apple was releasing a new operating system then maybe there could have been something that would have wowed me. However, that's not the case. They have to work within the constrains of an existing system.
As a technology enthusiast, I want the latest and greatest. I want features, I want to be able to customize my device. I want to be able to do more than what the engineers at Apple intended for the iPhone. Yet when I step back and look at it from the standpoint of the "average" end user, someone like my father, who at 63 thinks his computer hates him, I come to a different conclusion. I am wowed.
Just the other day, a co-worker of mine purchased a Palm Pre at my behest since she is on Verizon and could not switch to AT&T. In the process of helping her setup her device, I came to appreciate just how simple the iPhone is. The user doesn't have to try to figure out that there is a menu to view the settings within an application, and that to access it you have to hit the top left corner. To delete something doesn't require several steps, you just hold down the app till it wiggles and hit the X. Does it get any easier than that?
In our office here, we have two Palm Pre's, several Android phones, some iPhones and a lot of Blackberry's. Almost everyone comes to me for help, somehow I have become the smartphone guru. One thing that I have noticed time and time again is that most end users don't utilize their phones to the fullest.
Most don't know the little idiosyncrasies of the operating system that they are using. I find that aside from the most basic features most end users never delve deeper into the settings of the phones. I know that not a single person in my office has read the manual that came with their phone, and can only assume that the same holds true for the rest of the worlds population.
Recently I was contemplating a switch to a new phone and in my research was considering trying out Android. Google has been investing heavily in developing a robust, powerful system, one that I would be able to tweak. Something that I would not be bored with due to its newness and ability to customize it heavily. So, I went to the HTC website to view the phones that they are developing with Android as an OS and I downloaded a manual and started to read it, all of it. All 211 pages. Whew.
Now talk about a powerful OS. There are so many features, so many things you can do with the phone to customize it to your liking. You can go with the strait Google experience or you can use HTC's Sense technology. You can create widgets, different home screens, depending on if you are at work or home. The amount of things you can set is almost mind boggling. So, I went to the various Android users in my office and the offices around here, and the one most common trait that I found is that every one of the users was using the preloaded widgets, and settings. Not a single one of them had changed what was given them.
When I told them they could, they were all surprised and amazed at what could be done with there phones. So, I left them to customize, and told them that if they had questions they could come find me. After a week or so I followed up and to my surprise, not a single one of them did anything with their phones. If it were me, I would have changed so many settings, I would have made the phone work for me. I would have downloaded apps that would have made my phone more powerful and useful.
Which brings me to my point. Did Apple really just get it right? Did they look at us "power" users and tell us that if we wanted to customize, we should go elsewhere. They control the user experience down to the most minuet detail, they force developers to conform to their system, to make their applications work and look the way Apple wants them to. They made a phone that anyone could pick up and use, one that was simple in the most basic of ways.
Maybe we should all be wowed by what they have accomplished. When I look at the iPhone users, most of them have tons of apps loaded on their phones, if the stats are right, the average iPhone user downloads 10.5 apps per month. I'm sure most of the apps, are only used for a short period of time, or to accomplish a specific task and are then discarded. However, they are using their phones, and I believe its because the OS is just that easy to use.
I guess you can say that after a week of pondering, I am wowed.