Unless you’re living in a Faraday cage, you’ve seen the Internet hype around Android, Google’s mobile platform. The iPhone-alternative seekers and FOSS evangelists are engaging in a collective circle-jerk around it, because it has the potential to “beat the iPhone” and bring open-source to mobile. I think it will definitely have a profound impact on mobile devices, and there’s no disputing that an open mobile platform is exciting, especially one backed by Google. But guys, I’m not ready to circle up just yet. My apologies.
Yes, Open Source is definitely awesome, but its potential for “beating the iPhone” is limited. If there’s one way that Apple humiliates everyone else, it’s with their ability to make something universally usable. Personally, I love all that Android’s open nature has to offer the hardcore power users and developers. Open-source is great, offering infinite freedom for niche geeks like you and I, but that doesn’t translate to something that’s going to make it in the mainstream market.
Here’s a truly rare bird: a UI heuristic where most GUI toolkits get it right, but Apple (Cocoa) goes horribly wrong. In the above example, what will happen when “List” is selected? On the Mac (right), It’s not clear, is it? Will “List” also become checked, or will “Large Icons” become unchecked?
In virtually all pull-down menu implementations across all platforms, there are basically three types of functionality for any menu item (which does not have a submenu, and is not a separator):
When developing a Mac OS X application, you can specify what extensions your app can open. Furthermore, you can specify, for each document type, whether your app is able to open that document for editing, or just as a viewer.
So why is it that I can not utilize this differentiation in the Finder? For any given “.jpg” file, why can I not choose to view it (using Preview.app), or edit it (Adobe Photoshop CS2.app)?
The experience could be simple enough: double-click to view, triple-click to edit. Command-O to view, Option-Command-O to edit. Think of the time you would save that is otherwise spent tediously dragging an image to an icon in the Dock.
With the capabilities now built into the core of Mac OS X, the “Open” command just doesn’t cut it. I Demand Better User Experience.