One thing which unites the previous two stories here is that they are both about computer interfaces. (What is this? You'll learn after you click below.)
The iPod is a computer interface, as much as Apple might protest this. The addition of a screen completes the transition from radio to TV, and from storage device to computing device.
Microsoft Office is, if nothing else, a basic user interface.
The Web is a user interface. So is your e-mail system, whether POP3 or Web-based. The cellphone is a UI.
The point is there is more going on in this space than there has been since I first got into this business, over 20 years ago.
Jakob's more right than he knows. The user interface we've used for a long time now is broken. As I've said here many times, a computer is not a TV set, a tape recorder, and a typewriter. The computer is what is in the middle.
Today's mobile interfaces remove one element in that old equation, the typewriter. For a while the iPod eliminated the TV. Now that's back. That may be why I dissed it earlier. In some ways it's a step backward.
The tape recorder has become a hard drive, and in some ways the iPod is a PC giraffe, in that this single feature dominates the others. Instead you have the clickwheel.
On my new cellphone, a Nokia 6610, the keyboard has been reduced to a keypad, 12 keys in the center, four on the sides, and a big one (which can go in several directions) in the middle. Along with the screen, this is designed to replicate the Mac, with the center Joystiq doing the work of the mouse.
It works, but (frankly) it stinks. It takes forever to enter data into it, as with a calendar.
The old Palm interface (which the cellphone replaces) was in many ways more advanced, with its use of a pen and the Graffiti style of writing. My son has become accomplished with Graffiti. I never did.
The point is that, in many ways, we're going backward from the typewriter, looking for some simpler input device, some easier way to work.
What have we ignored?
Voice.(The picture at the top is of a Star Trek voice interface, from the StarTrek FanClub. Silly and clunky, ain't it?)
We should have plenty of memory and storage to create a highly-usable and adaptable voice interface for these new devices, but no one has taken more than a step or two down that road, and those steps have been taken haltingly, grudingly, in a way guaranteed to fail.
The solution, I feel, is to take the voice processing down to a single chip. A voice processor. Complete with interface software. Train it to your voice, and you have security built-in (because it will only respond to its master). Put this on a cellphone, on an iPod, on a Palm-like device, and you have a truly new paradigm.
Why hasn't anyone done this?