Joe Ganley

I make software and sometimes other things.


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I remember when Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired (yikes, 22 years ago), I looked at their consoles - big flat glass panels covered with virtual buttons and sliders - and thought that had to be the dumbest user interface ever. Now look: With the iPhone and its various clones, and the soon-to-be-legion (if you believe the breathless press) tablet PCs, this would seem to be the user interface of the future. (TechCrunch declares the imminent end of button keyboards.) My verdict is still out on this; while the interface is fraught with exactly the kinds of problems I envisioned when I saw that Star Trek console, I must admit that I've gotten fairly proficient even on the miniscule keyboard on the iPhone screen, and in general the interface works better than I would've expected it would. I have to imagine that it will be even more usable with a larger screen. There's no denying that it's incredibly flexible as an interface medium, that it provides a lot of really useful new affordances (e.g. multitouch), and that - perhaps most important of all - it's really cool and fun to use.

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