Saturday, 28 February 2009

Apple copies Google and fails, Amazon copies Apple and succeeds

What I love about Apple is the way in which the consistently innovate. They're always coming up with new ideas, and they always do things their own way. Apple doesn't copy others - others copy Apple... Until this week, that is.

Perusing the Safari 4 Beta gave me an uneasy feeling that this kind of product might be what we have to look forward to without Jobs at the helm. People have said that it shows signs that Google's Chrome browser has got Apple rattled, and, reluctantly, I'd have to agree.

The best things about Chrome are its smart choice in adopting Apple's WebKit, its super-fast JavaScript engine, and its robust multi-threaded architecture. The worst thing about it is, once again, it illustrates Google's complete lack of visual sophistication. Like every Google product, the UI of Chrome is very ugly.

What a travesty then, that Apple should see fit to copy so many aspects of Chrome's UI in the new version of Safari - an app previously noted for its influential, clean looks. Gone are clever innovations like the progress bar integrated with the URL field, and the inverted tabs. Instead, we have the cluttered, confused messiness of tabs integrated with the title bar, which commits three key UI gaffs:
  • Confuses two functions: dragging the entire window, vs moving the tabs
  • Draggable handle looks more like a window re-sizing tools
  • Inconsistent with every other window in Mac OS X!
This seems unequivocally a retrograde step, and irony of ironies, from this point on, Apple, the company that has been the inspiration and driving force behind WebKit, will be perceived as following Google's lead in browsers.

The other piece of surprising news this week is what a great job Amazon appears to have done with the Kindle 2. Certainly, it picks up on many design cues from Apple - the uncluttered white front, the metallic rear panel, the integrated wireless store, and the stylish packaging. But unlike Apple's hapless competitors in other sectors, some of Apple's magic does seem to have rubbed off on this product. I think that Amazon may have a huge hit on their hands, and Jobs may rue the day that he (rather ignorantly) claimed that no one reads any more.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

All-black iPhone?

This mockup is just a riff on the previous post. The new matt-black back would be nicely complimented by a black metallic bezel on the front. Is it just me, or does this make it look a little like the new Palm Pre?

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Aluminum iPhone 3G

iPod Observer has posted a very convincing spy-shot of what may be the next generation iPhone 3G, that has been carelessly leaving a trail of user agents wherever it goes.

The above visual from MacPredictions SVU (special visuals unit) extrapolates on iPod Observer's fragment to suggest how the entire phone might appear.

Notable aspects of the new design are its matt aluminum-style finish, and more generously rounded corners.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

New 10.6 Cocoa Finder to feature iTunes-like list view with skimming? [Mockup]

Click on the image above to view actual size
Rumor has it that the Finder is (finally) being entirely re-written in Cocoa for 10.6 Snow Leopard. Whilst Apple's stated intention is to focus on improvements under the hood, rather than new features, do we really believe that they'll be able to resist adding new things, especially considering that they're doing a Finder re-write anyway, and Windows 7's release is imminent?

This blog has had some success with Finder predictions before - correctly anticipating the introduction of Coverflow. Here's what MacPredictions thinks is coming next:
  • Tabbed browsing (finally)
  • Search by people and locations (similar to iPhoto '09)
  • New list view with Quick Look skimming (list layout similar to iTunes 8, but with skim groups similar to iTunes 8 Grid view, or iPhoto Events)
As usual, this is all just speculation - I have no sources to support these predictions.