Why Apple Ditched the Classic iPod Interface for the Touchscreen iPhone

beachtrader

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http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/technology_news/4218433.html

At the end of this week, there will be two types of nerds: those who managed to get themselves an Apple iPhone and those who?ll be staring over their shoulders trying to get a look. Regardless of which position you find yourself in on the evening of the 29th (or 30th, or 29th of the following month?it?s hard to know how long it will take for the dust to settle, though we?ll be hands-on for you ASAP), I would like to direct your attention to the bottom right corner of this groundbreaking gadget?s home screen.

There you will find a simple icon that?s instantly recognizable, because it represents one of the supreme industrial designs in the history of consumer electronics: box-within-a-box, then circle-within-a-circle?bam, iPod! Press the iPod icon on your iPhone, and the Apple gadget instantly brings you to your music collection. Only there?s a bit of irony in that important new button: What makes the iPod so ?iconic? is that famous circle?the clickwheel?and it is notably absent from the iPhone.

Steve Jobs and Co. are pitching the new iPhone as ?our best iPod ever? and at the same time changing the basic user interface that made the iPod so successful. This is no small step. In fact, it is a sign of Apple?s ambitions for the iPhone that the company was willing to abandon its signature interface for the untested waters of the iPhone?s multitouch display.

Remember, when the iPod was launched in 2001, it was hardly the only digital music player on the market. Competing devices from manufacturers such as Diamond Multimedia and Creative Labs had much of the functionality of the iPod, but they lacked the remarkably user-friendly clickwheel. The marvel of the clickwheel is its ability to navigate a large-volume database of music (or pictures, or movies, or audiobooks) quickly and without multiple button pushes. It is just about the perfect design for a small device carrying a lot of content. But the clickwheel isn?t necessarily a great interface for a highly interactive, alphanumeric entry device such as, say, a cell phone.

Don?t get me wrong, it probably could be done. In fact, I?d bet a stack of iPhone prototypes that Apple?s designers started off trying to integrate the clickwheel into their early concept phones. (Ironically, the clickwheel is most evocative of the anachronistic telephone dial.) But text entry has never been the specialty of the iPod (click, click, click, click, ?D,? click, ?E,? click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, ?R,? etc.), and without a keypad and some sort of mouse alternative technology, navigating the instant-messaging, Web-browsing, e-mailing and contact-entering graphical user interface (GUI) of the iPhone would be a nightmare. So the new capacitive touchscreen can create a virtual keypad, dialpad or slider for music and movies?or pretty much whatever controls Apple?s software designers can think up.

But how to deal with the ?large database? problem? The beauty of the iPod was that it required only a single continuous sweep of the finger round and round to get from ABBA to Zappa. The iPhone instead relies upon flicks of the finger and a bit of virtual momentum. As you grab and sweep each song or album, fast flicks can continue the scrolling even after you?ve removed your finger from the screen. As yet, we haven?t had enough experience with the iPhone interface to know just how well this works, but the idea isn?t altogether new. I have, for instance, a Navman GPS navigation system that lets users power-scroll through options via a virtual dial on the side of its touchscreen. However, this sort of programmed physics takes some careful calibration. How fast was that flick of the finger? Was it enough to bring me from Alice in Chains to the Velvet Underground? Or was I only trying to get as far as Fleetwood Mac? Each time you browse, your needs are different.

I have a lot of faith in Apple?s design and operating system logic, so I?m thinking the iPhone?s touchscreen controls will work well and take the iPhone to places that no ordinary iPod could go. The fact that the iPhone is packing so much functionality into a single device demands that it have a flexible interface. So short of the tic-tac buttons that devices such as the Research In Motion BlackBerrys, Motorola Qs and Samsung BlackJacks of the world use?which would have cut into the iPhone?s 3.5-in. display?a touchscreen was the only reasonable way to go.

And, since the iPhone?s controls are almost entirely software designed, they are (at least in theory) entirely reprogrammable. So if Apple determines that consumers just aren?t happy with the way their iPhone?s user interface behaves, the company can release a software update and tweak it in response. In fact, assuming Apple doesn?t crack down on third-party designers, iPhone enthusiasts could conceivably customize the controls however they want. Try coding that with a clickwheel. ?Glenn Derene
 

bruckwine

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A note..if that touchscreen is so customizable why didn't they just make a virtual clickwheel for the iPod function?
 

Kupe#WP

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A note..if that touchscreen is so customizable why didn't they just make a virtual clickwheel for the iPod function?
Because you could have used a virtual iPod control with one hand. As we all know, iPhone is a 2-handed device, so Coverflow was needed to keep both hands occupied. ;)
 

RICHINMJ

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Because you could have used a virtual iPod control with one hand. As we all know, iPhone is a 2-handed device, so Coverflow was needed to keep both hands occupied. ;)


If both hands are occupied, how are these iPhone boys going to take care of business while looking at pictures of Jobs?
 

bruckwine

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Give me a break. You are as bad as anyone here when it comes to insults and baiting.

LMAO this guy llarson is so amusing! richinmj made a joke and I laughed..my bad!

*puts on seriosu face as richinmj was serious*

@richinmj - they can always put the iPhone down THEN take care of business. nd by business I mean work. My treo 680 however allows me to use one hand to use my phone andd hte other to do MY business

*seeks forgiveness from llarson *
 

llarson

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Granted stupid post on my end

LMAO this guy llarson is so amusing! richinmj made a joke and I laughed..my bad!

*puts on seriosu face as richinmj was serious*

@richinmj - they can always put the iPhone down THEN take care of business. nd by business I mean work. My treo 680 however allows me to use one hand to use my phone andd hte other to do MY business

*seeks forgiveness from llarson *

I knew you where joking. Blood was up and all that.
:mad:
 

bruckwine

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Well then..seriosuly..why not just make a virtual iPod clickwheel...would've made the learning curve for that function unnecessary.

It could be it can't be done (yet) but I'd think anything that can take two touches could do that..maybe that is a limit...

The HTC touch seems to only have horizontal and vertical touching one at a time)..is it the same with the iPhone except both can be done at the same time (multi)?

Tht would be something for apple engineers to think on.
 

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