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The Things We Use The Most Have The Worst User Interfaces

One by one, Apple is taking on the lousy interfaces we have to deal with every day. The mobile telephone has had a terrible interface forever. When you’re selling the subscription to the pipe, the device is meaningless. The iPhone isn’t really a phone, and that’s the revolution in the device.

Cable television listings are impossible to search and the remote control is ill suited to the task. The economics are the same. The cable business isn’t about the user interface, it’s all about selling cable subscriptions. As long as it’s not an active negative, the method of finding, selecting and recording televisions will never improve.

There’s a revolution hidden in fixing television’s interface, because the new schema will include both hundreds of television channels, on-demand shows, music channels, and all the multiple media channels of the internet. We’ve become so used to working with terrible interfaces that we don’t even understand that something better is possible.

As with the iPhone, software will be the key. Cable television’s interface cannot iterate except in extreme circumstances. The software model is key to moving the interaction forward, and Apple seems to be the only company positioned to the HCI experiments at the edge into the mainstream.

Published in design economics hci interaction design