Mobile, The Web and Everything

It’s been a while since my last blog but I have been super busy learning and freelancing. I have been learning a lot about designing for other mediums. Primarily interfaces on mobile devices.

After fishing around the web, as you do, I stumbled on an article that recommended me to read ‘Designing for the iPad: Building the Applications that Sell’ by Chris Stevens. Chris Stevens was involved in building the ‘Alice In Wonderland’ application on iPad. One of the most downloaded apps on the iPad. I remember when the first iPad came out and one of my colleagues came over to me, a developer, and showed me this app saying ‘This is cool!’. So by word of mouth and now with the addition of a web article, I read his book. The comments vary, but it really depends on what you want to get out of it.

In essence the Alice application is a story, using beautiful wood carvings, that has been brought to life using a physics engine, time and dedication. There are several books you can download on the Apple Store now, each with similar principles i.e bringing the story to life using animation that the user can play with (see Nursery Rhymes with Storytime, which also allows the user to connect via iPad or iPhone to read bedtime stories to their children)

I didn’t find one solid source that let me learn how to design an app when I was hunting down information on Google, but this book gave me insight into:

  1. What they did to market the app (via YouTube and the release of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ film)
  2. What went wrong with the application but they tried it anyway
  3. Failures with other previous applications and some general code that they used in creating the physics engine.

I found it a noteworthy read, as it was a live working example taken apart. I ended up feeling like I was also learning from their experiences. One thing that struck me the most was the following quote…

“Designing for iPad is all about opening your mind to new ideas, and some of these ideas may come from observing where existing apps fail, or adopting existing technologies and shaping them into new forms”

I think this applies to any type of touchscreen interface. It’s like an open canvas without any rules. Touchscreen devices such as the iPad are direct-manipulation devices. You can touch the objects on the iPad and the device will physically become any number of things. There are applications on the iPad that look like the physical objects in the real world or mimic interactions of the real world. The screen is your canvas. I don’t have to rely on using a mouse anymore when my finger can flick, tap, stretch, direct…even cats can use it.

I recommend reading the book, even as just a bit of inspiration. I think everyone will get a different kick out of it. But the points are there. It’s very down to earth reading and not an instruction manual.