Makego is a new iPhone app from interaction artist and designer, Chris O’Shea that turns your iPhone / iPod Touch into a toy vehicle.

The app is basically a little animation of a top-down view of a racing car, ice-cream van or a boat. You make a vehicle in paper, LEGO, etc. and then put the iPhone it it to add the driver character, animation and sounds. Colours, etc. can be customized and when you move the vehicle around, the motion sensors in the iPhone trigger sounds, such as the racing car engine roaring. See the video for more.

Open Frameworks on the iPhone

OpenFrameworks, the “C++ library for creative coding”, is starting to get a lot more use in interactive installations.

I haven’t had the time to have a dig around and play with it yet, but those I know who are using it seem to be producing some great work. I also haven’t dipped my toe into the lake of C, though apparently you can learn it in 5 days (ahem).

The new release is quite a restructure and includes several new libraries, but the biggest news in the latest release is that it now officially has support for the iPhone. More details and guides from Jeff Crouse and Memo Atken (who made the Jackson Pollock iPhone app in the video above).

No more excuses. Time to get my hands dirty with XCode.

Mouth Off

Audio interaction. It’s one of the first things I show my students when teaching them about input beyond the keyboard and mouth mouse because it’s so easy to do and so effective. You get an organic reaction to the sound level and attach it to whatever properties you want to affect on screen. It’s my Hello World for sound input libraries.

Mouth Off (iTunes App Store link) is about as simple as it gets. Silly, interactive, playful, fun and cheap. Perfect. That alone makes me want to learn how to write apps for the iPhone.

(It also makes me wish the bastards at O2 Germany hadn’t automatically extended my contract so I can’t get an iPhone, but that’s another story).

(Via Creative Review)

Gruber on iPhone-Likeness

Good piece from John Gruber on iPhone-Likeness and why many developers don’t get it when it comes to creating apps that feel iPhone-like:

I’ll put forth one central, overriding guideline for iPhone UI design:

Figure out the absolute least you need to do to implement the idea, do just that, and then polish the hell out of the experience.

This, it seems to be, is the essence of any interaction design.

Rolando for iPhone

This trailer for Rolando looks like it might be a great iPhone game and it’s interesting to see the interfaces constraints/possibilities shape the kinds of gameplay, though many have said it’s a clone of LocoRoco on the PSP.

Both remind me of the innovation that was PaRappa the Rapper back in 1991 – it is still one of my favourite games.

(Via Daring Fireball, which probably means you’ve already seen it. Sigh.)

Prototyping and WIreframing on paper


There are a couple of great shots of prototyping on paper over at at Cultured Code’s blog for Things, their task manager app that they’re bringing to the iPhone and iTouch.

Kudos to Cultured Code for putting these up online. It’s really great to see how other people go about it and I really like Chris’s use of hand-made stencils to draw out the various buttons and layout in pencil, pen and marker.

Much as I love OmniGraffle it’s somehow gratifying to see that an app for the most sophisticated mobile device on the market is still designed with low-tech tools. I hope my students believe me now.

p.s. In the comments there is a note from Todd Zaki Warfel who is writing a book a book on prototyping.

p.p.s. For those of you who really, really don’t want to leave the womb of OmniGraffle, GraffleTopia has a nice set of iPhone Stencils to download.

Jiggling Icons on the iPhone

There are plenty of big announcements and coverage of Steve Jobs’s Macworld keynote. I’m happy to see the new AppleTV, movie downloads and rentals, and of course the MacBook Air.


But it was the the jiggling icons in the new iPhone home screen selection. When you are moving icons around and sorting them the icons jiggle in anticipation (or perhaps fear of being trashed).

Why does this frivolity matter? Well, the first thing for me is, of course, the playfulness of the interface. Die hard functionalists will probably hate it and find it an unnecessary waste of computing resources, but then so is any GUI.

Playful interfaces not only bring some pleasure to everyday tasks, they also encourage the user to explore and through exploring they learn the way the interface works. That’s what playing is all about and the good thing is it doesn’t feel like you are learning, it just feels intuitive or fun.

It also helps add personality to the interface and phones are extremely personal devices.

Lastly, why not? Everyone appreciates a pleasant physical environment – nice cutlery, a stylish lamp, a lovely pen, a favourite armchair. Most of those are necessary – a packing crate, an old door and a couple of piles of bricks functionally work as a desk set-up, but you wouldn’t want to work like that every day. We all spend an inordinate amount of hours on the computer or phone, it makes sense that it’s pleasant to use.

[tags]iphone, apple, macworld, keynote, interface, play, gui[/tags]

John Gruber on the iPhone

John Gruber is one of the few Apple advocates that writes with intelligent consideration rather than just being an over-enthused fanboy. He has just written a pretty smart analysis of the Apple iPhone pricing, which Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer lambasted.

Before the iPhone was announced I was in a meeting with some folks at Fjord in which the team were discussing applications for various phones. Like many who regularly browse mobile phone shops to see what’s going on, I have long been thinking that there are simply just too many. But what struck me in the Fjord meeting was just how many different interfaces and products even one manufacturer made.

Compared to the iPod it seemed absurd. Sure there have been various generations of the iPod, but they have all pretty much been minor variations on a theme. The iPhone, as Gruber says, is more complex, but basically an iPod that also does a whole lot more.

All the different phones around are due to some misguided market segmentation, I believe. Much smarter would be to make a product with a broad appeal. Gruber makes a good point here:

Why worry about the iPhone’s appeal to corporate IT? The iPod isn’t marketed to businesses and Apple has sold 100 million of them. The iPod is marketed to people, and the iPhone is, too. RIM sold 2 million BlackBerry devices in its most recent quarter; Apple sold 10.5 million iPods in the same period.

And there’s a huge, fundamental difference between these two markets. Businesses, typically, want to buy the cheapest things possible for their employees to use. When buying for themselves, people want to buy the nicest things they can afford.

Personally I’d rather see less flavours of phones from Nokia and, instead, one or two really well designed ones each year. Much smarter to get everyone to love the one thing you make rather than make a whole spread of things badly.

Apple iPhone

Apple's iPhone

I’m going to join what will be an enormous club and blog about Apple’s iPhone. I nearly didn’t, just to not follow the crowd, but given my interest is in emerging technologies, interactivity and interface design I really need to.

So, well, it is amazing of course just as a great piece of product design and technology. It’s great to see a full-screen device that ditches buttons as well as many of the multi-touch interface ideas that Jeff Han has been working on for some time. I’ve been waiting to see these ideas in an everyday product.

Running OS X, with its attention to detail and multimodal ways of working, is also very positive. But the main thing is that it could completely change the landscape of mobiles.

Completely change the landscape?
Yes. When I was chatting the folks at Fjord about some of the work they’ve been doing in the mobile space (incidentally Fjord have just finished this project, Go, for Yahoo! ) I had a thought about the ridiculous range of mobiles, even from one company. Apple have been smart with the iPod in the way they have kept the concept roughly the same even as they make new versions. Nokia, for example, might be much better off not segmenting the market but rather creating a really decent range of maybe two or three phones and then just keep simplifying them. That’s the Apple model and that’s what they have done with the iPhone.

Additionally, the Wi-Fi, the most likely very easy Apple-style manner of setting up your connections will also get over the big bugbear of mobile devices – namely that they’re such an incredible pain in the arse to set up if you want to do any kind of decent network communication.

Some of the user-interface elements (like the multi-touch and drag and throw style interaction) might seem small, but those things have been huge and permanent hurdle to people using mobile services.

Lastly, it’s probably reasonably easy to make nice apps for the iPhone, especially given the widget-style interface. This opens it up to a great deal more innovative development than on current mobiles.

There are probably many more things to be added to this list and probably some downsides, but I’ll have to get hold of one first…