Sunday, May 2, 2010

iPad Apps and the New User Interfaces

After writing my blogs on USA Today's Apple iPad app and the Memphis Business Quarterly's web magazine, I was concerned that you might jump to the conclusion that the new mobile user interfaces for newspapers and magazines would just mirror their paper ancestors.

Some mobile apps really do resemble their physicial representation.  Take maps, for instance.  While a computer display of a map will look much like its paper version, it can provide you with considerable improvements as well -- you can switch between the classic paper view, the satellite view, or a hybrid of the two. 

Many map applications allow you to select overlays of the weather. The Weather Channel iPad app, for example, gives you the choice of Radar, Clouds, Radar and Clouds, Temperature, Feels Like, UV Index, and 24 Hour Rain or Snow predictions. 

The UrbanSpoon iPad app not only provides a map but an interesting user interface for finding a great Italian restaurant and verifying that past customers were happy with their experiences.

I can see that close to my house is Pitrelli's Italian Deli and Cafe, which 89% of the customers like despite it being rather pricey (one reviewer suggests going on Wednesday evening for the couple's night special of a three-course meal and bottle of wine for $49.99). 

Here's a beautiful application.  From your iPad, start the ABC Player and you will see something closer to a work of art than a user interface.  You could use your iPad to check the ABC television schedule but, wait, who needs a television?

From the iPad, you can watch any episode from any season of Lost (and with with limited commercials, no less).

But you are thinking that these are maps and television shows, just extending their models to new technology.  While some new user interfaces will resemble how we have done things in the past, many will not just be copies of older ways of seeing information.

A company that is mixing things up is Yahoo!.  It takes its Yahoo! Entertainment magazine to iPad in a way quite different from the paper version.

The opening screen of the Yahoo! Entertainment iPad app has a picture of a paper magazine and the comics look like they are printed on already handled paper, but that is where the resemblance to a physical magazine ends. Yahoo! Entertainment lays out the contents in easily accessed blocks for quick review and navigation.  A menu bar at the top allows you to jump between Top Stories, Dear Abby, Book Reviews, Fashion, Odd Stories, and Comics. 

The Odd Stories section uses a paper metaphor; making the articles look like somebody has torn out memorable strips and pinned them to a cork board for all to see.  The Dear Abby section appropriately looks like a table top with air mail paper and a pencil for composing a letter.

I suspect that many new user interfaces will continue to strive for a paper metaphor and perhaps even a retro look like Yahoo! Entertainment achieved with its Dear Abby section.

However, I'm excited to see how companies will continue to use these new mobile user interfaces and made dramatic changes in the way we interact with digital information.

But for now, if I follow ABC's advice and "start here" on my iPad at Lost Season 1 Episode 1, when do you think I will be done watching the series?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doug - I see the new replacement for ink on my thumbs every Sunday, but how do you see this iPad/iPhone interface model being expressed for BI?

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.