After flanneling around for a short while, I finally found myself an excuse to buy an iPod touch. Actually, the excuse was “ohh, I have more money in the bank than I thought I had.” I didn’t need much persuading to buy an iPod touch, and the announcement of an SDK which covers both the iPhone and the iPod touch was the final push I needed.
First reaction: Apple has produced the most beautifully designed piece of technology that I’ve ever seen. The interface is the first touch-based one that I’ve ever seen that truly works, and the level of detail that’s gone into its design is truly astonishing.
Here’s a little example. When you use the contacts list, the first letter of the name of the contacts you’re currently viewing sticks at the top of the screen, in a translucent grey bar. Scroll up, and the letter of the next batch appears in the same kind of bar as a divider. When the one you’re scrolling up hits the one at the top, it pushes it out of the way as if it were a physical object. You can even “bump” it, and as the other bar falls it behaves like a physical object falling.
What Apple has basically done is add a very simple physics engine to the touch interface to make it behave more like a real-world object. This has been the thing which has been missing from touch interfaces. Human beings have a hundred millenia of experience in using objects and tools which behave according to a set of rules of physics, and something which replicates those rules will feel morer natural and accessible to our monkey brains.
Yes, look at the bare stats of the iPod touch and it doesn’t look like anything special at all. Use one, and you’ll want it. It’s as simple as that.