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Will iOS 7 finally make traditional PCs irrelevant?

John Cox | June 10, 2013
UI redesign, plus deeper changes are next steps in post-PC era.

Four weeks ago, Speirs posted "The iOS 7 Power User Challenge," describing a number of changes that he thinks are important for the next release of the OS. As a "wish list," it's not unique; he's not even the first to propose many of the specific changes on his list. In the past few weeks, such lists have been mushrooming. Here's a sampling:

What sets Speirs' analysis apart is his perspective: "iOS broke through a lot of conventional wisdom about how computers should appear and operate," he writes. iOS "broke the tyranny of the hierarchical filesystem as a user interface." It "turned the purchase and installation of third-party software from a great opportunity to destroy your computer into something that people do for fun. People of very low technical ability are now perfectly safely and competently administering their own computers." Finally, "iOS solved the virus problem."

Speirs argues in another recent post that thinking of computing devices in terms of "content vs. consumption" is far too simplistic. "It recognizes almost nothing about the user's task beyond whether it's an input task or an output task," he says.

A better way of thinking about devices is in terms of the task's complexity and duration. Duration means "how long of a continuous period will you be using your device for the task." Complexity is more ... well, complex. It involves variables such as: number of steps to finish the task, whether the steps are linear or not, the extent to which the task combines data from multiple sources, and the amount of data.

To illustrate this, Speirs created a chart:

iMore Editor-in-Chief Rene Ritchie has a somewhat similar perspective, which surfaces in his series of posts, since the iOS 6 release in fall 2012, on how and why iOS 7 needs to be different. In one, on improving iOS file handling, he talks about how a smart document picker for iOS would "remove the cognitive burden from users and let the system do all the heavy lifting." Another example is a more recent post, on how the iOS Notification Center can "transition from informational alerts to actionable ones." In effect, Ritchie describes an OS that, instead of simply providing a (lengthy) sequence of discrete actions that a user follows to complete a task, actually cooperates with the user.

"Imagine instead that, once the banner notification rolls down, we could not only tap on it to go to the app, but drag it down to get an actionable dialog," he explains. "Then we could quickly enter and send a response, at which point the dialog would disappear and we could immediately resume what we were doing. No carousel app switching, no need to click and tap our way back."


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