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A PC interface which just does what it says

Yesterday I mentioned that football clubs making their own iPhone apps is more significant than you’d think. I promise to explain why. But first, here’s something else. For many years I’ve wondered why nobody’s devised a good computer interface which, at startup, just offers us giant icons representing the applications we usually use, and nothing else. It would be a joy to use, and not just for my Mum, who only ever needs a web browser and iPhoto. Me, I’d have the screen divided into four: Safari, iTunes, Tweetdeck and a link to “other applications”. Your mileage will vary.

Yes, I know that it’s straightforward right now to put icons on your Windows desktop, but, well, they’re a bit poky, aren’t they? And the desktop always gets cluttered up with so much other rubbish. Then, a couple of years ago, I realised that interface was available and I was already using it …on my mobile phone. This just had a screen full of icons representing all the things it could do. The interface was taken a step further with the Apple iPhone, which allowed you to select the icons (and subsequently control the applications) through a touch screen.

And now it all comes together. The next step is for this interface to move up to the computer. Imagine a PC where you’re completely isolated from the operating system, just like an iPhone. When you buy it, you have a blank screen, except for the icon which starts the application which takes you to the store where you buy and download all the other applications (“apps”) you need. You download them as and when, and you can operate them by poking them with your finger.

Who cares? I’ll explain why I think this is important tomorrow.

Icon-based operating systems

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