Collaboratively designing Things through sketching

So far, Ianus, Alexan­der and I have announced three of the four peo­ple who’ll be speak­ing at the first Dutch This hap­pened. They are Fabi­an of Ron­i­mo Games, Phi­line of Super­nana and Dirk of IR labs The final addi­tion to this won­der­ful line-up is Wern­er Jainek of Cul­tured Code, the devel­op­ers of Things, a task man­age­ment appli­ca­tion for Mac OS X as well as the iPhone and iPod Touch.

When I first got in touch with the guys at Cul­tured Code, I asked who of the four prin­ci­pals was respon­si­ble for inter­ac­tion design. I was sur­prised to hear that a large part of the inter­ac­tion design is a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort. This flies in the face of con­ven­tion­al wis­dom in design cir­cles: You’re not sup­posed to design by com­mit­tee. Yet no-one can deny Things’ inter­ac­tion design is sol­id, focused and cohesive.

Things touch still life by Cultured Code

Wern­er and his asso­ciates col­lab­o­rate through vig­or­ous sketch­ing. Some­times they pro­duce many mock-ups to iron out appar­ent­ly sim­ple bits of the appli­ca­tion. A prime exam­ple being this recur­ring tasks dia­log. Just look at all the alter­na­tives they explored. Their atten­tion to detail is admirable. Also, take a look at the pho­tos they post­ed when they announced Things touch. I’m sure that, if you’re a design­er, you can’t help but love care­ful­ly exam­in­ing the details of such work in progress. 

Wern­er tells me he’s been busy scan­ning lots of sketch­es to share at This hap­pened – Utrecht #1. I can’t wait to hear his sto­ries about how the design of both the desk­top and mobile app have happened. 

Wern­er com­pletes our line-up. Which you can see in full at There, you’ll also be able to reg­is­ter for the event start­ing this Mon­day (20 Octo­ber). I hope to see you on 3 Novem­ber, it promis­es to be a love­ly filled with the sto­ries behind inter­ac­tion design.


iPhone playing The Office

There have been so many posts on the iPhone late­ly that I’ll try not to add to the noise with things that have already been said. Web design­er Jere­my Kei­th and inter­ac­tion design­er Dan Saf­fer have both tried to gath­er all the worth­while posts on the top­ic, from dif­fer­ing per­spec­tives. I’m sure they’ll make for plen­ty of (more or less inter­est­ing) reading. 

My own view is that Apple have proven once again that they’re great at inte­grat­ing tech that was already out there in a pack­age that offers a pleas­ing user expe­ri­ence. I’m curi­ous about the mul­ti-touch screen and the appar­ent ges­tur­al and tan­gi­ble inter­ac­tion it offers. I’m under­whelmed by their choice to have the device work only with Cin­gu­lar (which appar­ent­ly is kind of crap) and am curi­ous if they’ll do the same when it’s intro­duced on this side of the ocean. 

In short: I’ll have to actu­al­ly use the thing to decide whether it’s as good as it seems; it’ll come down to not just the UI, but also the per­for­mance of the GSM, WiFi, cam­era, and on and on. For now, I’m hav­ing fun watch­ing the online demos (at least that’s one thing Apple is very good at).

MacBook at a glance

White MacBook product shot, courtesy of AppleSo today I dropped by both Apple stores that have recent­ly sprung up in the cen­tre of my home­town to check out the new Mac­Book. My thoughts in a nutshell:

The shiny screen isn’t as shiny as the xblack ones on Sony’s Vaios, I actu­al­ly kind of liked it.

The mat­te fin­ish on the black Mac­Book real­ly does get all oily and smudgy, like Derek already point­ed out a while ago.

The new key­board looks great. The spac­ing between the keys doesn’t both­er me since I have big hands, but the flat sur­face of the keys is an annoy­ance. Inter­est­ing­ly, the guy at the shop told me that the new key­board is sup­posed to pre­vent the keys from touch­ing the screen when closed – which is the only real prob­lem I have with my cur­rent 12” iBook G4.

All in all it looks like a real­ly sweet piece of hard­ware. Nev­er­the­less I think I’ll wait to see what prob­lems spring up with the first gen­er­a­tion and when those are fixed, prob­a­bly take the plunge.

iTunes 5 dumpt Brushed Metal

Voor Mac insid­ers only — een hilar­isch stuk op Dar­ing Fire­ball over Apple’s keuze voor wéér een andere look voor hun nieuw­ste ver­sie van iTunes. 

Brushed Met­al: Cal­cu­la­tor? I’m out of iTunes and you tell me I’ve still got Cal­cu­la­tor? When is the Spe­cial Event sched­uled for the next ver­sion of Cal­cu­la­tor? Oh, that’s right, there is none, because no one gives a shit about Calculator.”
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