I plug my HTC Desire into my MacBook Pro, and this happens:
That’s very pretty, isn’t it? I can just imagine my father thinking, “What in the hell do I do now?”
This is the kind of dialog – and the kind of design decision – that only a geek could love.
There’s no problem with Android, per se. Android is an OS. You can build whatever UI you choose on top of that OS. HTC has chosen to develop SenseUI as a ’skin’ over Android, to provide it with user accessibility. As you can see, they clearly knocked it out of the park with this one. Because every user will be thoroughly knowledgeable, understanding the subtle differences between ‘HTC Sync’, ‘Disk drive’ and ‘Internet sharing’. Yeah, absolutely.
Absolute bollocks. The user should never have to tell the device how it’s to be used. The device should figure that out because it’s being used that way. If you can’t do that, then you’re not listening to the user, and if you’re not listening to the user, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to make mobile phones.
Wait. I suddenly sounded like Steve Jobs for a moment there, didn’t I? Well, fair enough. Because this argument concerns him. I’m beginning to see the wisdom of Apple’s design fascism. There is something to be said for a single eye looking out over all of Mordor and controlling every thing that happens in the cracked valleys below… (Oh, wait, that’s another fairy tale.) There’s something to be said about putting the user experience first and foremost. That user experience should be so seamless as to be invisible. Nothing less than that is acceptable.
Does this mean you steal techniques from Apple? Damn straight it does. If you’re not prepared to learn from your enemies, you don’t deserve to win the game. Plug the device in. Launch an app to manage the device – something that looks an awful lot like iTunes – but has the advantage of an open architecture, so all of your content partners can provide their own plug-ins. The consumer plugs their mobile into the computer, and everything else just happens.
There, that wasn’t too hard, was it? Amateurs.