A response to Edward Tufte’s iPhone Interface Design
The other day, my boyfriend told me he couldn’t remember a time before my iPhone was my constant companion. Initially I didn’t want to acknowledge the dependency I’ve developed on my handheld device, but his statement made me think how much has changed in the past couple of months.
Before last summer, I didn’t have internet access on my cell phone nor was I active on Twitter. I didn’t have any phone apps, and the pictures my friends sent in text messages usually were unable to be received on my good ol’, pink Pantech Impact. My friends spent idle time on their new iPhones, and I didn’t understand why the birds on their phone screens were so very angry.
I also noticed many of my friends spending time on mobile Twitter, as opposed to Facebooking, to procrastinate. The dialogue was altered from “I posted it on your wall” to “Did you see my tweet?” At this time, my perception of Twitter was not a positive one. I told my friends that they were giving in to the very worst of Facebook’s feature, manifested into one, narcissistic network. Why did I want to join a social network comprised entirely of the equivalent of Facebook updates?
But I upgraded to an iPhone in June, and my perceptions all changed. While I still tune in to my favorite news programs, I no longer browse the internet for news. Every top headline this Fall, ranging from political to entertainment, I’ve learned about from Twitter. I found out that most don’t use Twitter as merely updating the world on their mundane activities, although some of my friends still do include a rundown of their day’s activities, but people use Twitter to share real news and to network. 95% of my Twitter use is on my iPhone, and it capitalizes on its ability to allow users to “retweet” news as soon as it happens.
Not a fan of digital reading in the past, I didn’t think I’d use my iPhone to read as much as I do. The screen is not particularly large, but the design of many iPhone apps and of the iPhone itself is brilliant. Edward Tufte offers both praise and criticism of the iPhone interface desgn. However, he hones in on the most critical aspect of its success: “the content is the interface, the information is the interface.” Apple has done a good job thus far at effectively laying out design for the iPhone to show as much content in its screen as possible without clutter. The admin features disappear when users are interacting on sites, and sliding allows users to easily understand navigation.
Apple designed the iPhone and created dependent users, like me, with its clean, effective display of information. Social media sites have capitalized on this, and Twitter has become a main forum for political, entertainment, and job networking discourse.