The Future Of Mobile Interfaces And Apple

by Tanner Godarzi Sep 07, 2007

The recent rumors of Apple working closely with Volkswagen to build an iCar seemed way out there for Apple, but it later turned out to be a design interface in plans. Regardless, this is still a radical departure for Apple and it seems other companies such as Google would be a better choice; could this signal that Apple wants to focus more on a mobile interface and accompanying devices?

This thought has been exhausted in many forms, from the Mac Mini’s impending death to desktops getting the upgrade treatment less than their mobile counterparts. I am not basing my post on this previous data though; that, in my opinion, is only a small portion as desktops will still be used for quite some time. I am basing this post on one very important key factor of mobile devices: flexibility. Not the same flexibility in upgrading a desktop but the flexibility in being able to create slimmed-down hardware that can be specialized for a certain task and perform better than the alternatives.

Even though you run into the problem of having to constantly refine an already powerful OS and optimize it drastically for a certain device, this can mostly be bypassed by the type of input system implemented. This is something Apple excels at: the click wheel and multi touch interface are two great examples, the significant voice changes in Leopard another.

But with mobile systems such as the iPhone and similar ultra portables Apple might make, you’re given the chance of molding each product to be something very unique and differentiated from the competition.

But still I cannot stress how important the interface will be to that product’s survival. It will get to the point where you won’t interact with the computer but it will interact with you, which would be a vital component to an Apple-designed interface for a car.

The key is being as unintrusive as possible which means being able to connect with existing devices seamlessly, to actually provide a service to users and do so with minimal interference. In essence, just give us what we need and be done with it.

This is every mobile user’s dream because it can get frustrating to use something like an iPhone for extended periods. As much as I love mine it can be a bitch sometimes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my thumbs staged a mini revolt or committed suicide a la Carpal Tunnel.

For now Apple is taking baby steps in designing more of a feedback system, starting with the Jaguar XF. Ian Callum has stated that they have been working with Apple on the control interface. While that might seem minor to some people, it does signal that Apple is indeed interested in this field.

Who knows, this might start something for Apple, and we’ve seen concepts of this happen with Ford and Microsoft.


  • This article sparked a thought in me.

    If Apple has introduced the first iPhone with a slide out keyboard like some of their competitors have, people would probably have been “meh, nothing new to see here”.

    But what if Apple has been planning a keyboarded model all along?  They introduce the iPhone with the touch interface and everybody goes “Ooooh, shiney!”

    Later, they introduce a model with a keyboard for those users who need easier typing for business or messaging…  and they’ll be congratulated for listening to their customers’ needs.

    It’s a brilliant strategy if that indeed is the case. They get the huge publicity splash for introducing something new and funky (touch interface) which allows them to later market something old and boring (like a keyboarded smartphone) and still be congratulated on it.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Sep 07, 2007 Posts: 243
  • Who better than apple to design user interfaces, i’d love to see some of the concepts apple has been working on with the jaguar xf in the near future

    Nemin had this to say on Sep 07, 2007 Posts: 35
  • I don’t know.  I recently typed a long email on my iPhone and text rather long messages, and I have to say, I prefer the virtual keyboard to an actual small keyboard with keys.  The more I use my iPhone, the faster I get, and the more comfortable it gets to use it for “real” typing.  Perhaps I am a minority.

    bluegirl had this to say on Oct 05, 2007 Posts: 19
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