Have you ever heard of Bunny Island in Japan? It’s literally an island overrun with bunnies. If you Google it (which I highly recommend), you’ll find videos of seemingly endless bunny stampedes adorably flooding the roads. It’s the best.
Working in the tech world post-Apple event is like going to Bunny Island. Apple announces new hardware and software, and the interweb comes alive with a barrage of speculation, strategy, commentary and analysis. Like a bunny stampede, it’s welcome and exciting, but also a little terrifying.To help make sense of things, I sat down with Phunware UX/UI designer Ivy Knight. Read on for her thoughts on what made Apple’s fall event noteworthy from a design perspective.
1. Multitasking and Productivity on the iPad Pro
Although Apple announced iPad multitasking at WWDC back in June, it wasn’t until last week’s event that we got to see the true power of multitasking in action—oddly enough, with help from Microsoft Office.
On iPad Pro’s huge screen, multitasking takes on a new level of capability. Designed with responsiveness and multitasking in mind, app layouts will now adapt and snap to keypoints gracefully, allowing users to, say, take notes in apps like Word or Evernote while interacting with another app simultaneously. Or send email while watching a video. Or (sorry, boss) mess around on Facebook while working. In short, use an iPad Pro like a laptop.
2. Will iPad Pro Replace MacBook Air?
Speaking of using the iPad Pro like a laptop, what is going on here? With hardware and software updates in both product lines, the distinction between MacBook Air and iPad Pro is increasingly blurry. People have been speculating that tablets will replace laptops for some time now, and many argue that Apple is #tardyfortheparty and playing catch-up to Microsoft Surface. With the iPad Pro, Apple has certainly arrived to the tablet party, but it won’t replace laptop or desktop computers for designers like Ivy anytime soon. It’s powerful enough to capture some more casual or idea-generation design needs, but it will remain a novelty for now.
3. Extreme Makeover: Apple TV Edition
Apple also announced at its fall event that Apple TV had received a major overhaul. With a new OS, UI and hardware, the new version is almost nothing like previous incarnations. The new Apple TV UI keeps some of its old templates, but is refreshed to reflect newer iOS iterations. It’s simple with dynamic details such as parallax app icons.
Existing Apple TV apps will still work on the new Apple TV, but the big news is that the tvOS SDK is now open to developers. And while Apple TV is opening the door to developers, it’s notably closing the door to the web, meaning that Apple TV apps will not be able to pull in web content through webviews. That move will create some extra work for developers, but the result will be better overall. This quote from High Caffeine Content CEO Steven Troughton-Smith (via Wired) sums it up:
“Website content…would allow developers to take the least-common-denominator approach to bring existing, awful, Web-based ‘smart TV’ apps or sites to tvOS…They could just reuse anything they’ve built already, instead of putting care and attention into creating something appropriate for the platform.”
Thank goodness that’s not going to be a possibility. tvOS is merely one of myriad examples that native development—development for specific platforms and hardware—is critical for the best user experience and adoption.
4. San Francisco: Put Your Best Font Forward
Can we all take a moment to celebrate typography? Apple sacrificed style over usability when selecting Helvetica Neue for OS X, departing from the high digital legibility of Lucida Grande. But now, to the delight of designers (and users) everywhere, Apple has corrected this error by creating San Francisco, a font that works on-screen and across a multitude of devices. Initially released on the Apple Watch, San Francisco is now being integrated in with iOS and OS X. It’s reminiscent of Google’s Roboto font family, high praise considering Roboto has already proven to be a phenomenal typeface on any screen.
5. Use the Force…Touch
Finally, the iPhone product line is getting a new gesture that mimics an existing Apple Watch interaction: Force Touch. The gesture allows context menus (menus containing related actions for the current view) to be presented to users when they press down with pressure. From a UX perspective, this gesture is best reserved for context menus to allow users to build expectations for how Force Touch will work. There have been some comparisons to the long press, but Force Touch is a quicker gesture (and an Apple-only gesture). According to early reports, using Force Touch is a seamless, natural experience.
So there you have it—a preliminary response to the Apple announcement deluge. Thanks, Ivy, for helping me fend off the bunny onslaught.
What do YOU think are the design implications of Apple’s fall event? Comment below and let us know.
Ivy “Jedi” Knight is a UX/UI designer at Phunware, and she’s pretty awesome. Skilled in design and web development, lover of Belgian beers, and total fan of geek culture, she is at home in any aspect of the software industry.