back to article BlackBerry CEO: iPhone past its prime

From BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins' point of view, Apple's iPhone is growing rather long in the tooth. "The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about, is now five years old," Heins told The Australian Financial Review. Not that Heins has no respect for the iPhone – it's more that …

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  1. DJ Particle
    FAIL

    The irony kills me! :)

    1. Levente Szileszky
      WTF?

      Ummm...

      ...and what way, actually? BB has pretty much nothing to do with the BB OS you are probably thinking of and iOS is indeed a boring, locked-down, limited UI and as a multimedia OS it's far the worse kind of junk out there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ummm...

        Presumably in that Blackberry is basically a Dodo on life support now that Windows Phone took the 3rd OS spot, and calling another OS past it's time is a bit rich...Pot, Kettle, etc.

    2. LarsG
      Meh

      Why did you buy your phone?

      You buy your phone because it is the one you want, whether the OS is iOS, Win, BBS or Android.

      It really doesn't matter, you chose the phone for YOU and your requirements.

      I've had all sorts, Seimens, Nokia, Phillips, Sony, Ericsson, Sony Ericsson, HTC, iPhone, Samsung, Nec, Motorola, not in any particular order dating back to my first in 1994.

      The last five were a HTC Hero, Desire, Sensation, iPhone 4S and finally iPhone 5. To be honest I have not looked back. I use my phone for my business the iPhones worked without a hitch unlike the HTC's which required daily attention and tweaking.

      On the strength of the iPhone I bought an iPad again for business, they both seamlessly update my files as I need them. Finally this year I ditched my crashing slow to start Dell 1645 XPS and bought a MacBook Pro with a I TB drive, not the retina one I might add. Now when I get home late at night I don't need to imput any documents or updated stats and daily calls from my ipad because it is already updated on my MacBook. My old Windows Software, accountancy stuff, games, Office etc runs on a Windows 7 partition or within OSX using Parallels.

      I may well have bought into the Apple Ecosystem, but it saves me time and it works without giving me a headache. I no longer have to work into the small hours inputting data because it is done as I go along.

      You may have made other choices, that's your choice, just as your preference in food, beverage and sexuality.

      All of that is fine with me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why did you buy your phone?

        Lets be honest, that you bought not one but 3 HTC phones says something ... no wonder you were driven to buy an iPhone.

        Perhaps if you'd done some research before hand and gone down the Samsung route you wouldn't have felt the need to buy an iPhone.

        However, no phone requires daily tweaking ... that's the result of a personality trait and the only reason why you don't do this on the Apple is because it wont let you!

      2. Flywheel Silver badge

        Re: Why did you buy your phone?

        "You buy your phone because it is the one you want"

        Or maybe it was the one that ticked more boxes than the others. Usually, buying a phone/phablet is a compromise, and if you want a number of features badly enough you'll inevitably let 1 or 2 missing or weak features go?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why did you buy your phone?

        Apple/OSX/IOS is /SO/ great you use Windows 7?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The irony kills you

      You're probably too young to remember a company that nearly went bust because of its old fashioned OS and went on to success with a new POSIX compliant one despite a small market share.

      Mac OS 9

      Mac OS X

      BlackBerry has paid homage to Apple's reinvention by numbering their new OS 10.

  2. JDX Gold badge

    My phone is basically a touch-sensitive rectangle. I don't think that has changed in the last 5 years. A bit like how Windows 95 thru 7 kept the same basic interface, I don't really see the need to innovate the basic UI if it works. Apple have a design that works. Android have a design that works. MS have a design that works (no, really). Now even BB do.

    Well done chaps, but just because you only just got yours finished doesn't mean it's better than those who got there 5 years ago.

    1. Levente Szileszky
      FAIL

      Errr, no...

      ...iOS is rather a pile of crap nowadays, even compared to Android, it's a blast from the past with all its (Apple-typical) stupid limitations, restrictions, completely inexplicable stupid behavior (example: try playing back a regular x264-encoded mp4 video that plays fine on literally every other OS you throw it on, Android, Windows, WP, linux, even WebOS - but not on this crap called iOS unless you go and tweak it to hell, resulting in at least 20%+ bigger files than on any other OS); UI is just boring and indeed looks very outdated in 2013.

      1. Philippe
        WTF?

        Re: Errr, no...

        The fact that you're struggling to play a H264 (not X264 btw) says more about you than it says about iOS,

        The fact that you seem to be going around trying the same file on about 6 different OS only highlights some serious clinical problems and/or excess of free time.

        Otherwise you're just a troll and a bad one at that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Errr, no...

          H.264 if we're being pedantic, not H264 ...

          1. Levente Szileszky
            Go

            Re: Errr, no...

            Not only that but I was talking about x264 - something he didn't even understand. ;)

        2. paulll Bronze badge
          FAIL

          Re: Errr, no...

          Replying to a factual claim with an ad hominem. Cliched as it is, I believe the proper term is, "Fail!"

        3. Levente Szileszky
          WTF?

          Re: Errr, no...

          That fact that you don't even understand the difference between h.264 and x264 yet you try to loudmouth about it says more about you than anything else, you fool. =)

          HINT: one is a library, the other one is a format...

          ...but hey, just keep on embarrassing yourself publicly, it's entertaining. :)

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      While the BlackBerry man obviously has his own commercial interests, I think he's got an indirect point in that the iPhone is no longer particularly exciting. Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features; an expressive touch interface is the norm and 95% of most people's use is probably texting, using the browser or using apps for services that are also accessible in the browser. They can do that on more or less any handset out there.

      Even if you take Apple's case at its strongest — that the iPhone is the best phone in its class — it's now just one in a pretty big class.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features"

        This is rather the point. Technically the iPhone is pretty impressive. It squeezes an awful lot of clever stuff into a very small box, and that makes it quite expensive. (I imagine, for instance, that the aluminium case is needed for heat dissipation and to prevent hotspots, whereas the Galaxy range can get rid of a lot of heat through their large glass surfaces).

        The problem starts when people don't care about things being the smallest any more, at least, not to the extent of paying £800 for a non-expandable mobile computer with 64G of Flash. If the competition is expandable, cheap to repair and cheaper to buy, the temptation to put up with an extra 20g for a saving of a couple of hundred £ starts to have its effect.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: " Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features"

          Actually, the "dated" stamp is an interesting one, because we seem to remain with the idea that we HAVE to upgrade every so often. I've tried the iPhone 5 and it's actually too light for me - I prefer the 4S which has a bit more weight. I think the 5 would only become comfortable if I could add a battery pack to it so it would gain weight.

          You see, ergonomics is not just about making things lighter, and I personally think Apple overshot here. I worked with some companies on product design, and the iPhone 5 is the first product I've had in my hand that felt indeed uncomfortably light. Or maybe I just have big hands :)

          Thus, I will *not* upgrade. I have a 4S which works, and the main improvement (the camera) is not that relevant for me. I may get an Android for testing to keep an eye on alternatives, but I see no longer value in upgrading every year. At some point you arrive at designs that work for you personally - why then upgrade?

          I'm not into bling, I buy things that work for me..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: " Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features"

            "At some point you arrive at designs that work for you personally - why then upgrade?"

            You're still using an 386 with win3.1 then?

            What a load of trot. You simply can not imagine what to do with a 2013 feature set. You seem stuck with iPhone and that is just SAD.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: " Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features"

              You're still using an 386 with win3.1 then?

              Worse. I sometimes still use a VT102 as well. But I have stopped using DoubleDOS, so there is hope.

              What a load of trot. You simply can not imagine what to do with a 2013 feature set. You seem stuck with iPhone and that is just SAD

              I think your constant need for new things to play with is more entitled to that predicate. Oh noo! My cell phone is more than 3 weeks old! What am I going to DOOO? Everyone will laugh at me! (etc). I may have overdone it a bit, but I think you get the point.

              There are 2 massive advantages of not attaching an ego to the newness of my kit: first of all, it saves me money so I can immediately buy stuff I like - I don't need to wait for any contract renewal cycles. Secondly, patience pays. I let the early birds queue for hours and complain about early release bugs, and calmly walk into a shop (without queues) half a year later and buy the stuff after the kinks have been worked out. The result is that I rarely have equipment trouble, and make informed purchases focused on *my* needs instead of having to buy gear as some entry ticket to a vacuous club I don't even *want* to belong to.

              Wanna play some more?

          2. Nick Pettefar

            Re: " Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features"

            I was given a Nokia Lumia for a works' mobile but gave it back because it was too heavy and had sharp corners - not a good combination in your trouser pocket! I bought an iPhone 5 instead and it is light enough to carry around comfortably in said pocket. Funnily enough the rest of the department's Nokia Lumias were changed for HTC mobiles because they couldn't get Outlook e-Mail to work on them - unlike the iPhone. Sadly the HTC doesn't work with it either so I remain the only person in our department with works' e-mail on their mobile telephone. I expect they will all get iPhones too at some point. My only other smartphone was a Nokia e71 which was annoying and fiddly - the iPhone 5 is a massive improvement on that.

  3. Slackness

    Ummm

    Blackberry would do better to align to android and deliver their concept as the layer above.

    Purely as a survival tactic, BB do deliver a good service. Issue is the support of a 3rd platform.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ummm

      Bearing in mind that a lot of Blackberry's customers care about security, aligning to Android is the worst possible thing they could do. The obvious OS for fit with Blackberry is Windows Phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ummm

        The obvious OS for fit with Blackberry is Windows Phone

        Thanks for the laugh :)

        I think using QNX is an interesting idea from a security perspective, it's been used for years by Reuters to drive their corporate connections. The problem is that BB is starting almost from scratch here, so the bugs may not have been shaken out yet - I'd give it a year before I'd investigate if I could trust it for corporate use. By that time it will also be visible if BB is here to stay or will sink, which is important from a continuity perspective.

        I just hope their new phone works with open standards as well as established BES infrastructures.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ummm

          Not sure why you think that is funny. A number of companies like Mall of America and Foxtons have made recent high profile switches from Blackberry to Windows Phone, and large consultancies like Avanade are actively pushing it as a solution.

          WP is one of the most secure Phone OSs and it has unmatched integration in the Enterprise and very good management tools.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ummm

            "Not sure why you think that is funny."

            Simply, because to an iPhone owner, no other phone is better than theirs. That is why those who are not stuck to Apple can laugh at their lack of objectivity.

            1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

              Re: Ummm

              "Not sure why you think that is funny."

              Simply, because to an iPhone owner, no other phone is better than theirs.

              Interesting, there is nothing in that post that indicated iPhone ownership or even preference.

              You know you should have posted at 8:20, right?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ummm

            Not sure why you think that is funny. A number of companies like Mall of America and Foxtons have made recent high profile switches from Blackberry to Windows Phone, and large consultancies like Avanade are actively pushing it as a solution.

            I worked for various consultancies, and their focus is never what is best for the client, it is what is best for THEM (hence, for instance, the very late engagement with Open Source, there's simply less money in for them). Further, volume is never an indication of quality. You should have learned that one a long time ago, certainly with Microsoft products..

  4. Slap

    It's like the bike

    It's like the bike, a design that hasn't changed in a hundred years, apart from a bit of fine tuning here and there. Why, because it works. Changing things for the sake of "progress" just leads to things like Windows 8, or that abomination called Unity on Ubuntu - the reason I've now switched to Mint for my VM Linux environments

    Despite the iPhone's limitations in un-jailbroken form it is something that works very well out of the box, and does pretty much what people want of it straight off the bat. Not all people are tech heads, and all they want is something that's easy to work and moreover they want an interface that remains consistent through new models and upgraded operating systems. Apple have achieved that.

    Just for the record I am an iPhone user, but do spend a bit of time helping my non tech friends out with their android/windows phone devices. Funnily I never need to help a non tech iPhone user, and I think that speaks for itself in terms of how Apple got the iPhone right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's like the bike

      If you think bicycles haven't changed in a hundred years, you don't know much about bicycles. A 1912 bicycle would today be laughably slow, uncomfortable, expensive and unsafe. I forget when brakes started to work in the wet and gear changing became reliable, but it was in my lifetime. As was the end of rust and tyres with some sort of grip on wet roads.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Re: It's like the bike

        @ribosome. No one said the bike hadn't changed. The analogy is the apt because the comparison is not the details, it's the UI. Bikes still look the same and I'm willing to bet that you can both recognise and operate pretty much any (normal) bike ever built. The few times people have tried to 'improve' bikes we ended up with things like the recumbent bike ..

        1. James 51 Silver badge

          Re: It's like the bike

          What's wrong with the recumbent? Faster and more stable than standard bikes. Unsuitable for road use but that's as much a problem with the roads as the bike. Limited visibility ahead is its biggest fault.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's like the bike

          No, the analogy is not apt. It's true I could ride a 1912 bicycle, but if I tried to do it in traffic on a wet day I would probably kill myself. The cyclist from 1912 wouldn't have a clue about the derailleur gears of a modern bike. They take some getting used to. Bicycles have different UIs - twist gear changes, gear levers on handlebars or stem, pedals with or without clips, coaster or lever rear brakes - that are pretty significant and have a learning curve. The differences between your 1912 bicycle and a 2012 one must be about is big as the difference between phone operating systems, given the actual number of controls involved.

          When you say "Bikes still look the same" I can say "A phone is still basically a box with a microphone at one end, a loudspeaker at the other and some sort of user interface in between". This is as true of my original brick phone as it is of an iPhone. The weight ratio is a bit bigger than that of that 1912 bike to my Dahon, but the principle is exactly the same.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's like the bike

          "No one said the bike hadn't changed. The analogy is the apt because the comparison is not the details, it's the UI. "

          So when Apple finally make improvements to iOS, you'll say that they are not needed?

          FAILURE.

    2. scarshapedstar
      FAIL

      Re: It's like the bike

      If you made a version of Android that went straight to the app tray and didn't let you do anything else, it'd pretty much be iOS.

    3. rich_a
      FAIL

      Re: It's like the bike

      "Funnily I never need to help a non tech iPhone user"

      Funnily I do need to regularly help iPhone users. Try changing MMS settings for a Vodafone PAYG sim (iOS always sets the APN's to the wrong servers) when you can't get the APN menu to show unlike every other phone ever and have to start swapping SIMs to get the menu to show. Also try explaining that you can't just send them an mp3 ringtone like on every other phone they've owned, but you need to use a program on your PC to create one and then connect the phone to the PC running iTunes to transfer it over- and while you're at it explain that if they want a ringtone of the song they already bought from iTunes, they need to fork out the same cost again to buy it as a ringtone.

      Sorry iPhone fans, your phone may look all cool and shiny, but when you struggle to do things you could do on a ten year old dumbphone you must acknowledge that all is not rosy.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's like the bike

      "Not all people are tech heads, and all they want is something that's easy to work "

      Spot on!

      Tho, asking for an opinion on a phones capabilities from someone who just wants something that is easy to use is a folly.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's like the bike

      "It's like the bike" Yeah, the penny farthing!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's like the bike

      Uh oh. You know that people have a tendency to focus on your analogy rather than the point you're trying to make, right? :)

    7. The Real SteveP
      WTF?

      Re: It's like the bike

      Really? Try explaining to an iPhone user that wants to use Swype for text input that they have to create their text in the Swype App, then copy and paste (a relatively new innovation in iOS!!!) their text into whichever App they really wanted to enter it into in the first place! Apple have locked the keyboard and their stupid arrogant intransigence means that the user MUST do it the Apple way or the highway, however inconvenient that is. On an Android, the user can set keyboard for all Apps in one go to Swype, then open Apps and use it. On iPhone (and other Apple devices) - IT JUST WORKS (NOT).

      For non-technical users, they still need to be able to properly use the Apps they download from the store, and no Apple Corp bullshit will help them understand why they have to jump through hoops to get text into an App the way they choose to, or why the App (Swype) doesn't work the way it does on all their friends' non-Apple devices.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's like the bike

        First of all, you're looking at this from the wrong point of view. It's not that Apple *disabled* (locked, as you say) the ability to switch keyboards. They simply didn't ADD that ability to the OS.

        Secondly, I consider it a *feature* that Apple has locked down their devices and apps are all self-contained and nicely sandboxed. True, I don't get the ability to switch out system-wide components like the keyboard, app launcher, lock screen, etc. and apps don't have access to the whole file system, etc., but it does mean that my device will always behave consistently and is effectively impervious to malware and buggy or otherwise misbehaving software, which is exactly what I want from an appliance like a phone. How do you know your precious 3rd party Android keyboard isn't keeping usage stats that get sent back to the developers, effectively leaking your personal and/or confidential information? With iOS you never have to worry about that sort of thing.

        (Also, as an aside, I was only able to find one study about whether or not Swype enables faster text entry and the conclusion was that it doesn't. I don't know why people would want to use it other than it's a gimmicky novelty.)

  5. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    What? Me? Worry?

    If the iPad UI looks dated I'd guess it is only because The Apple choose to give its competitors catch up time in order to avoid monopoly wrangles.

    The bigger issue may be: does the new Apple still have power, command and authority to surprise us and the market with step-wise incremental improvements AND of the scale show stoppers?

    Maybe OS is due for a revamp sometime soon with some slick desktops to reinvigorate an ailing sector?

    Time will tell?

    1. Greg J Preece

      If the iPad UI looks dated I'd guess it is only because The Apple choose to give its competitors catch up time in order to avoid monopoly wrangles.

      That's the best apologist bollocks I've read since William Lane Craig. Thanks for a Monday afternoon chuckle.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Agree. To me, that one qualifies as a comment of the week, mainly for humour value.. :)

  6. Jenksy
    Thumb Down

    Cannot agree

    My Blackberry was very poor. My iPhone is two years old without any issues at all. Talk is very cheap, perhaps a product that works well might be a start.

    1. mickey mouse the fith

      Re: Cannot agree

      Only blackberry i ever owned (storm or storm 2, cant remember exactly, the one with the clicky screen) was pretty unreliable and had an awful ui. Apple`s smooth as silk interface jumped on it from a great height, but then again the iphone cost twice as much so it bloody well should have.

      Ios really is looking old and clunky now though, theres nothing exciting, new or radical about it. Compared to Android ics or jb, its looking horribly dated and the locked downness is a huge minus point.

      In fairness, not everyone is tech minded, and like a comfy pair of slippers, having a familiar ui across phone generations is probably quite comforting and reasuring for some.

      As for Blackberry, they should do as an earlier poster suggested and talk with Microsoft. Wp8+Blackberries server and security expertise would be a good fit. Far better than trying to enter the market from the back with an os that, just like ios now, just doesnt look exciting or different enough to interest the average consumer to swap from their current choice of smartphone ecosystem.

  7. Nanners
    Alien

    That explains it.

    Why every one is trying so VERY, VERY hard to imitate and compete with the iphone. You still don't get it. It's not about the newest technology, it's not about the fancy look. It's about putting together a good product.

    1. Darryl

      Re: That explains it.

      Yes, why would any sane company want to compete with a competitor? And how do you explain it when Apple tries VERY VERY hard to imitate other handsets?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That explains it.

        how do you explain it when Apple tries VERY VERY hard to imitate other handsets?

        Which one?

  8. the J to the C

    Phones are fashion

    As long as there have been phones there have been trends, they come and they go, the iPhone is just another in a very long line of must have phones, BB, do have a point, the iphone is tired and is close to it's end unless they change. of all the improvements over the last few versions of the iPhone does it really make any difference to the first one, not really from a users stand point, yes there is siri and i have a few extra pixels but if i was still on version 1 of the os and version 1 of the phone, would i be missing out on anything, well nothing if my apps still worked

  9. g7rp0
    Meh

    Has tthe I-device lost its way?

    I consider myself neither a fanboi or an apple hater, I have a droid fone for work and an iphone5 for my personal phone and an Ipad for browsing when I cant be arsed to turn on the laptop or PC.

    I also have a nexus 7 which is an excellent piece of kit and I think if the nexus 4 had been available (as in not sold out) when I got the iphone I may well have made a different choice.

    I am starting to beleive that apple is on the verge of doing what it did before pre Job's return to the company.....I dont think Cook has in insight that Job's did and love him or hate him he had the ability to know what the majority of people wanted, Cook doesnt seem to have that.

    Personally after spending a lot of my early IT career installing and troubleshooting the earliest incarnations of BES I have a dislike of it but I think the guy has a point, Iphone could well have lost their way

  10. James 51 Silver badge
    Gimp

    I have to take issue with your description of the playbook as a failed tablet. Not only do I remember it, I read the article and am typing this comment on it. It inexplicably arrived without a native client because it was design as a companion device for blackberry handsets. This ensured maximum security. Using the bridge it was possible to view, send and receive but if the tablet was lost or stolen, there was no data on it so you could relax. Most reviewers didn't understand this and treated it like it was a standard ipad wannabe and so it's reputation suffered. That is partiality blacbkerry's fault but reviewers should have realised what it was instead of saying this is not what I expected, nor am I its target market and therefore it is bad.

  11. uhuznaa

    RIM was saying this since 2007

    I'm too lazy to look up some quotes, but RIM back then thought that the iPhone was doomed and in no way a competitor. God, were they wrong.

    To iOS: Yes, it's familiar in an almost boring way now. But do I seek excitement from a smartphone anymore? Not really. I have a Nexus 7 and will buy another Android tablet soon, but my iPhone is totally fine for what I need it for. Reliable, good battery life, smooth, comfortable. Nothing wrong with that, really. And if I will ever buy an Android phone I will immediately get an iPad to go with it just for completeness. What's more boring than having all your gadgets run the same OS?

  12. a pressbutton
    Meh

    +1 for the bike analogy

    The best smartphone used to be Palm - remember them?

    It was really good for making calls, sms and built in diary.

    Trouble was it was not so good at teh inteweb and web type apps - which IOS and Android and (so I am told ) WinPho 8 do.

    At the moment they all do about the same things about as well - as much a case of personal taste as anything else.

    Wait until one of them do something the others cannot - and then we can play remember when xxx was...

    My betting is that it will be Android that provides the disruptive innovation - not because it is Android but because the hardware vendors that sell Android phones are providing more powerful phones faster and someone will come up with something that makes use of that processing power sooner or later.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: +1 for the bike analogy

      "At the moment they all do about the same things about as well - as much a case of personal taste as anything else."

      And what influences our decision making?

      Wankers saying look my phone can do this (bragging rights in the pub, for those still to leave the school playground). iPhone is popular because of your peers, because of the marketing machine, because owning one gave you kudos.

      Win phone 8 OS just dusts the floor with iOS, but because its windows you deem it a failure and gives you no bragging rights.

      Said it before and I'll say it again, I hate iSheeple. Blind followers who bought one cause their mates were "showing off". If anyone tried to "show off" an iPhone to me I'd laugh loudly in their face and point out their folly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Obviously!

        "If anyone tried to "show off" an iPhone to me I'd laugh loudly in their face and point out their folly." Name the time and place...

  13. Charles Manning

    Round lights or square lights?

    Car makers keep on changing between round lights and square lights - telling you how dated the other shape is. And then a few years later uncool will be cool again.

    The same seems to happen with Linux distros. Version x+1 has a cool blue background which looks so much better than the old brown background in version x.... and round window and button corners by default! Yet the in version x, brown replaced blue and the soft round buttons had been changed to be more angular.

    It seems that top-end phone UIs have pretty much got to that stage too. Is there really any useful stuff than can be done or are we just chasing fashions?

    1. Allonymous Coward

      Re: Round lights or square lights?

      Quite.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence#Style_obsolescence

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to agree with Heins here, however blatant his commercial motivation. I've had a string of phones over the years (I work in a company that provides outsourced services to Sony, Samsung and Apple, amongst others, so getting ridiculous discounts is a doddle, and being a cash-rish 20-something, a new phone is like crack for me), a couple of iPhones (3G, 4S), an HTC Desire, a Samsung Galaxy S2 and most recently a Note 2. Since the switch from the 4S to the S3, I've pretty much permanently switched to Android and I'm not looking back.

    At the end of the day, phones are pretty much at feature parity. They've all got decent cameras, they all laugh in the face of javascript-laden web pages, they've all got excellent touch screens, the batteries all last enough for a day at work. So, for me, it comes down to three things. Form factor, physical design and software useability. Form factor is something that is obviously personal preference, and physical design is really somewhere Apple win without a shadow of a doubt (though the HTC One is really, really nice), but in the realm of software useability? Sorry, but iOS is just dated.

    The most obvious thing is when you start up your phone. My Note 2's home screen gives me a nice readout of the time, my calendar for the day, my most recent emails, and still finds space for 5 app shortcuts (I'd even suggest a lot of the space is wasted - 5.5" of screen and it shows exactly as much as my old Desire did back in the day). Start up an iphone and you get rows on rows of static icons. That's nice if that's all you want, but once you adapt your workflow to use widgets, little icons with red "1"s on the top just aren't the same. Good as Android can be at this, Windows puts them both to shame. WP8 has brilliant design (it's just a shame about the ecosystem/hardware).

    The other things that put me off are more esoteric, but I'll give an example from just the other day. A relative of mine is doing a big bike ride across France next week, he was taking an iPhone and iPad, so I pointed him to ViewRanger for all his GPS/Mapping needs. I generated the GPX files for the route for him, emailed them to him, and tried to find a way to get them into the app.

    Absolutely no chance. He was using hotmail, which is admittedly dated but still a common enough use case. Try to "download" the files from the hotmail webpage and it just opens them as plaintext files (despite being XML). Try to use them from inside the mail app, and even with ViewRanger installed, it provides no options for using the files except to forward them on as attachments. [Try to use the full hotmail web page rather than the mobile one and it doesn't work at all..]

    In the end I added the routes using a desktop and the viewranger website, but it illustrates the point. iOS's visual design is dated and static, and iOS's user interface design is limiting going forward. As we ask our phones to be more and more than just web browsers, we'll need more and more things like file manipulation and location, and iOS just isn't geared up for that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, first of all, it sounds like the ViewRanger iOS app simply isn't designed to open GPX file attachments. That's a problem with the app, not the OS. (And has nothing to do with the OS's user interface, I might point out.) There are many iOS apps that open files attached to emails no problem. This is well-supported by the OS.

      But back to your comparisons of the home screens, iOS displays notifications of upcoming calendar events by default on the lock screen (and in Notification Center) and it is easily configured to display notifications/previews of new emails the same way. It also displays the time, day, date, etc. in large print on the lock screen and the time is always visible in the status bar in the app launcher. So while the OSs may present all this information in different ways I don't see how Android is functionally any different or better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Because it's not just a display of information, those are all fully interactive widgets. Swipe over a screen and not only can I see if my alarms are on or off, but they can be turned on or off without opening any apps. Over another one and I've got my media widgets - Yatse and Music, all set out and ready to use. Same goes for that email display. It's not hidden away under a notification tray or inside an app, I can pull up a reply window to a visible email without ever leaving the home screen. It's just more fluid, more useable, and, again, the OS that does this best is, far and away, WP.

        And no, the problem isn't with ViewRanger (at least not with its GPX compatibility). Yes, there probably is a problem with it interfacing with the OS in terms of file associations, but the fact I can't direct the OS to download a file and then manually manipulate that file is absolutely bonkers. Why is a task as simple as saving a file and then opening the file later so bleeding difficult? Being locked out of core OS functionality might have made sense early on when the ecosystem was young and the idea of smartphones was immature, but more and more often I find myself wanting to use my phone as a fully fledged PC replacement (and given 5.5" of HD screen, why not?). iOS just can't compete with that. It is functionality removed for no good reason.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I understand your points about the home screen and widgets but have a hard time believing that it adds anything measurable to the usability or productivity of the phone. Plus, I wonder if widgets even reduce the amount of tapping/swiping you have to do. Let's say you have your alarm widget but since your home screens are full of widgets and trays and giant clocks, you usually have to swipe at least once to get to the home screen with the alarm widget. How is that swipe any different from tapping on the alarm app on the iPhone?

          I disagree with the idea that Windows Phone and its live tiles are an improvement over anything. I know several people with Windows Phones and I would say 99% of the time, when they unlock their phones, they do it for some reason, i.e., they almost always want to run Facebook, or check their email, or do some texting. They unlock the phone and run the app they want, immediately, via muscle memory, without paying any attention to whatever's on the live tiles. Out of hundreds or thousands of times, I don't think I've ever seen one of my friends pull out his phone, see the information he was looking for on a live tile, and not run the app he was intending to run.

          As for your GPX file situation, I don't know what you want. ViewRanger apparently didn't register itself with the OS as an app that's able to view or edit GPX files, so what do you want iOS to do? You can absolutely download and edit files with iOS as long as you have an app that's capable of doing so. I know this because I do it literally every day.

          I agree with your point that iOS is not a suitable OS for a "fully fledged PC" but I don't know why it should be. What line of work are you in where you could possibly be productive with a 5.5" screen and no physical keyboard?

  15. peebee

    same old story

    @g7rp0 - I don't think you can blame Tim Cook - I'm not sure Steve Jobs could have made a difference to the place that Apple is heading, not that it's going to be a bad place commercially. It's the place where Apple's tight control over its ecosystem makes sense - ie among people with premium budgets who want something that works well within predictable limits. I imagine Jonny Ive will make it all look fresher, but it won't stem the shift in the market towards more exciting (and cheaper) products. Yes, Apple made the tablet and smartphone mainstream, but funnily enough not through innovation - that's never been the company's strength. They did it by taking existing ideas and executing them better.

    I'm not a fanbois - never liked the Apple lock in. But the smartphone market is pretty messy and hard to read at the moment, and as someone else noted, Apple can look attractively stable and for some that will be compelling. Let's give credit where it's due, but things are moving on quickly, and for better or worse Apple is not looking as fashionable as it once did ...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User interface doesn't just mean app launcher

    The iOS user interface encompasses a lot of ground. To my knowledge iOS is the first phone OS to allow scrolling by touching anywhere in a scroll view and swiping/dragging. Should we all stop doing that because it's a 5 year old gesture? Same with pinch-to-zoom, is that old and boring now?

    Basically when people say iOS looks old, they just mean the app launcher. True, it's "just" a grid of icons that lets you run apps, but what else do you want from an app launcher?

  17. Dana W

    From Blackberry that is hilarious.

  18. Dana W
    Meh

    Some Android people are like the people who used to buy American cars. It has to have a VISIBLE new design every year to keep them interested. "This year it has tail fins!"

    Apple? Oh no. It didn't change its look this year! It still looks the same! How old fashioned! If it does not change the way it looks every year its not fresh!

    To some people, new stops on the surface, and useful means shiny. This gave America a variety of crap cars with new looks and dated tech, but boy were they shiny!

    I'm still driving a 1974 Beetle, it still does what I want it to, the way I want it to. And it still looks the same as it did the day I got it almost a quarter century ago. And that's just fine.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Coat

      iPhone as 40 year old air-cooled utility car?

      You know, I think you may very well have just nailed it.

      GJC

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm an iPhone/iPad fan, I love them and have felt no need to change what worked for me. I agreed with every part of your post, nodding, and thinking to myself "what a sensible point of view, I'm glad someone here is sane".

      Then I read the last paragraph.

      A beetle. A 1974 beetle.

      FFS.

      Yup, you've convinced me. My next phone will be an Android.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OK, you had me until the Beetle. Unless you stuck a Porsche engine in it..

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tail fins

      I love the smell of bad analogies in the morning.

      Those tail fins reduced fuel consumption by 15% or so. GM let people think they were cosmetic because the principle on which they worked was thought not to be patentable. Modern aerodynamic car design has reduced them to those little edges across the back.

      But you are right - fins saved GM from the need to design more efficient engines right through the 50s.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "iPhone owners – respect is somewhat like that which you have for your granddad"

    Spot on! Been saying ir for a while now. I think iPhone owners recognise this themselves.

    Only the isheeple would disagree. It is old. Very old. Apple need to pull a trick out of the bag to prevent them from looking aged. Last decades innovation is wearing thin.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the use of the term "solution" to describe a combination of hardware, software, and services is a bit old hat, as well – just like the iOS smartphone operating system"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yep - Android copied IOS and did it better - and Microsoft did something completely new and did it better than either of them. Apple are going to face declining markety share imo....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Droid did not in any way copy iOS.

        You know this yourself.

        Apple didn't invent anything, they made it look good to the masses and the masses were sucked into it.

        Not very clever.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Apple didn't invent anything, they made it look good to the masses and the masses were sucked into it.

          Yeah, sure. The "masses" only bought in never before seen volumes because it looked pretty. It only nuked the market for other smartphones when it was introduced because it had bits of chrome. It only managed as the first company ever to get a slice of revenue off mobile operators because it came in a pretty box. Do you really believe that?

          Apple didn't invent the smart phone, it never claimed it did. They merely applied their usability principles to it, in the same way they did with iPods and more recently with OSX. They make things easy to use, and for many people, that was exactly what they needed. KISS works.

  21. John 62
    Headmaster

    "From Thorsten Heins's point of view..."

    Proper nouns take apostrophe s for the genitive, even if they end in s, z or x, because that's how they're pronounced, like Heinses. If the uneducated write "Jesus' Love" that doesn't make it right.

  22. Allonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I guess fancy UIs matter to some people

    I use what works for me. I tend to keep using it until my requirements change, or something new comes along that fits them better.

    I don't give a crap whether it's boring, exciting, looks clunky or whatever. There are bigger things in life to worry about than flashy new shiny.

    1. Piro

      Re: I guess fancy UIs matter to some people

      Uh, if you actually had that argument, then you'd use an old school Nokia with a black and white screen.

      1. Lone Gunman

        Re: I guess fancy UIs matter to some people

        That's exactly what I'm about to swap my personal phone back to - a cheap old school Nokia that will just make calls/do text messaging as that's all I need on that particular number.

        Work though is different as that's where I need the email/calendar. We have moved to iPhone from Blackberry and its the worst bloody thing we did in most end users opinion. Damn thing is a rubbish phone (although EE need to take some blame there), doesn't really integrate properly with Exchange, tends to stop syncing the calendar and/or email. Looks pretty though. Recently needed to get it upgraded to the new iOS having not touched it since I got it (4.2.2 if you want to know) - wouldn't do it, hardware refusal so brand new 4S got handed to me as a device that was less than 3 years old wouldn't take an OS update.

        Give me back the blackberry that worked with Exchange properly (well most of the time) and was fully featured in email and calendar and I'd be a very happy woman.

      2. Allonymous Coward

        Re: I guess fancy UIs matter to some people

        Who says I don't use an old school Nokia with a black and white screen? ;-)

        Also... *requirements*. If one of my requirements was, say, to have an always up-to-date calendar in my pocket then I'd probably be carrying around a smartphone. Regardless of what I thought about the pointlessness of shiny-UI discussions.

  23. Ice Cold Beer

    Was never impressed with anything blackberry (went through 4 blackberry storms which were terrible and 1 bold which wasnt that great) how they can say apple look dated I don't know!. Before you say it i am not an apple fanboy (have got an ipad 2 though) have now got android phone and think its far more open than any of the other mobile OS's

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