Apple TV: the simplest user interface you could imagine

Many have speculated how Apple will change the way we use a television set. In the biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs is quoted saying that he finally cracked the secret of how to make a television set: “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine”. Most have imagined this to mean voice control in some fashion. I for one, do not believe that for a second – I can imagine a much more simple user interface. There are far too many problems with voice command for it to be a preferred solution in a situation where you:

  1. have your hands free
  2. are looking at the thing you want to interact with
  3. are sitting sill
  4. may want to be quiet (as not to wake other family members)
  5. may want to speak to other people in the room

Tripp and Tyler have brilliantly made fun of some of these issues.

So, what did Steve Jobs mean? I think we will see a television set with eye tracking software. I have already mentioned this when speculating about the new iPhone, but for a television set this technology would make perfect sense. Imagine a single button remote. One click on the remote to bring up a menu to one side of the screen and activate eye tracking. Click again to select the menu item you’re looking at. Repeat until you have selected something to watch. The menu goes away. Now that is simple!

What’s the next revolutionary iPhone feature?

I have been thinking about the iPhone 5. Specifically, what the next revolutionary feature could be. The first time I saw the iPhone, it felt like it was based on some alien technology. That feeling was not there when the iPhone 4S was released, as I have written before. I am sure that some think that Siri is as revolutionary as the touch based GUI once was, and I might think so too sometime in the future, but it has a long way to go in my opinion. This is largely due to the fact that it does not support the language that I speak daily, and I am not alone with this problem.

So, what could bring that feeling of alien technology back to the iPhone? Yesterday I was reading about eye tracking technology and I realized that eye tracking on the iPhone would again change the way we view mobile phones forever (pun intended). It already has a front facing camera so it has the necessary hardware. In the article, the Swedish eye tracking company Tobii estimated that mainstream breakthrough was about two years away. Could this be the next big thing for iPhone? I would love to see this come true! iPhone (and iPad) would once again blow the competition out of the water.

This reminds me of a scene in Back to the future Part II where Marty is in the Cafe 80’s and he is showing a couple of kids how to play a video game and their response is: “You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy!” I have always wondered how that might come true. Could this be it?

iPhone 4S – to buy or not to buy

When Apple unveiled iPhone 4S on tuesday, I didn’t feel the same immediate need to buy as I did the first time the iPhone was released. Can I convince myself that I need this phone? I am ready to buy, but what am I really getting for my money?

Faster processor and new camera

Speed is always nice, but I own the 3GS, and so does a lot of other people. I could simply buy the iPhone 4 and still get a faster phone with a better camera. It wouldn’t be as fast or as good as on iPhone 4S, but it wouldn’t be as pricey either. It’s a selling point, sure, but is it enough to make me spend the extra cash?

World phone?

For those who live outside the U.S. that claim is almost a slap in the face. Adding support for an old technology that is only used in the U.S. instead of looking forward does not seem like a typical move from Apple. They should have added NFC instead.

Dual antennas

Better reception is undoubtly a good thing, but since it does not exactly take a genius to add a second antenna, it makes me suspect that they just failed to fix the original problem with the iPhone 4 antenna. Regardless of the reason for this apparent quick fix, the most evident sign of the dual antennas will probably be more heat in my pocket and reduced battery life.

Siri

Siri sure makes a nice demo, but I doubt I would use it much, even if it worked perfectly. Since English is not my native language I will never be able to “get directions to Björnnäsvägen” using the English voice control. But more importantly, a Swedish version of Siri would probably have the same problems as the existing voice control: I will not be able to “play Divided By Night” and “call Örjan Åkesson” without changing the language of the voice control first. Let alone dictate a text message in Swedish and then an e-mail in English (as is frequently the case).

Design

I would have liked to see a new design without the glass back. It is not a major issue, but it does not help me spend the money either.

iOS 5 and iCloud

The new version of iOS and iCloud is probably the most exciting of the new features, but those will be available for existing iPhones as well.

Conclusion

I want to buy a new phone, but preferably not this one. I hope that I can restrain myself until iPhone 5 is released, but now that Steve is gone (RIP), who knows what’s going to happen. iPhone 5 may be even more disappointing.