Apple’s iPhone changed everything when it debuted in 2007, with its handy touchscreen that introduced totally new concepts such as pinch-to-zoom. But it’s easy to forget in the age of iPhones that UX is about a lot more than a touchscreen. It’s about making real-world gestures, touching physical buttons, and sometimes looking away from a screen entirely.
As user experience guru Don Norman wrote in 2015, Apple forgot about some of its more nuanced approaches to UX after launching the iPhone. Apple’s quest for minimal, visual simplicity hid core functions and made it harder for people to recover from their own errors. Even more importantly, touchscreens trapped us all inside 5-inch worlds, a space that was inherently narrow in both our inputs and our experiences. UX became small, and in a sense, life followed.
At today’s Spring Loaded event, Apple showed off its willingness to dust off some of its best, old ideas and experiment with new UX moves that have little to do with tapping on a screen. Apple seems to be thinking about its devices with fresh eyes. Its devices are not merely being treated as containers for apps, but as functional tools in our lives that we can use in all sorts of ways to respond to any given moment.