“If you have a settings dialog you are doing it wrong” vs. personal computing


Convention over configuration > One True Way

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Einstein

I have run across an interesting tension coming to a head with mobile product design and choice.

The constraints of mobile brought about this strong push towards simplicity and task centered design. Hell, the bar was raised in every dimension. Many apps that I use today are beautiful both visually as well as functionally.

As with everything, dogma can take things to the extreme, and I have seen this in spades with the iOS7 launch.

So many of the frustrations that I have could be solved with the odd setting or a bit of flexibility.

For example, the new springboard has some nice new features. I like the visual touch when you are downloading a new app, I appreciate being able to get to search from anywhere. However, not being able to use any area to the left of the main screen? Why not? It is so easy to get back to the first page that it would be nice to put something a flick away. It makes me feel like seeing a plot in a great neighborhood that I can’t purchase because a neighbor bought that plot to keep it clear. Except in this case I own the land!

The folders. I like being able to put more apps with them, but it has a harsh trade off:

  • I can only see a few at a time since such little space is given to
    the area (on iPad too!)
  • I used to place a folder in the bottom right and when opening it I could quickly tap in to open an app quickly (kept one row on purpose). Now that doesn’t work as I am launched into the new popup folder vs inline.
  • The animations make me feel like I am leaping from pad to pad in a
    leap pad game.

If I could just change the animation timing (faster please!). If I could change the size of the main area. The size of the app icons. This flexibility would make me so happy…. Just as changing the size of text does (which is great on iOS7).

Let me change the app icons. Give me a central spot to set a default browser so every app doesn’t have to manually do it “Chrome or Safari?”.

People will sneer and talk about Android and how they go too far. The times have changed. Back then this smart phone thing was new and Android looked like crap no matter what. It’s time to move on and deliver a great default experience without locking out the user.

Mobile is personal. We are not all the same. Great we have some colored iPhones now (or you can get a case for your 5S 😉 but more customization options please!

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