Thursday, June 11, 2015

APPLE IS GOING TO KILL THE HOME SCREEN


THE HOME SCREEN has always been at the center of the iPhone experience. At WWDC, Apple signaled that we’re moving on.

With iOS 9, the bulk of interaction will happen elsewhere, dispersed among intelligent notification panels, powerful search tools, and context-specific suggestions that put relevant apps a flick away. The dependable home screen will still exist, but for the first time, it feels secondary. These days, the smartphone experience is just too fast and fluid to be pinned to a grid.

From birth, the home screen was the iPhone’s face to the world. It was the first thing that popped up when Steve Jobs swiped his finger across the first iPhone’s lock screen on stage in 2007. Looking back at that event, it’s remarkable how little has changed. Today’s home screen has more real estate and less gloss, but beyond that, the two are identical.

In the early days, the home screen was crucial to the iPhone’s appeal. For a gadget that was many gadgets in one—a phone, an iPod, and an Internet communicator, not to mention a camera, a map, and more—the orderly grid of icons organized functionality in a perfectly uncomplicated way. To someone coming from a PC, the home screen was the desktop and Start button all in one. It was so important that it got its own dedicated button. No matter what you were doing on your phone, if you pressed the thumb-sized disc below the screen, you were safely shuttled home.

 APPLE

But as we became familiar with smartphones, we came to care less about the tidy comforts of the home screen. Gradually, Apple gave us new ways to move around. The multitasking tray offered a quick shortcut for jumping between apps instead of returning to the central hub of the home screen every time. As iPhone users accumulated pages of apps, Spotlight became a quick way to find the desired one.

More recently, we’ve seen interaction shift to the lock screen. Interactive notifications let iPhone users bypass the home screen and go straight to the relevant app. The brilliant camera shortcut, which lets you access the lens just by swiping up on the lock screen, is another example. These changes reflect one basic fact: Mobile life is too fast to be routed through the home screen.

The next version of iOS clearly reflects this reality. The tentpole feature is Proactive Assistant. Following Google Now’s lead, iOS 9 will try to anticipate what you need when you need it. If you fire up NYT Now each morning right when you wake up, iOS 9 will endeavor to note the habit and make the app available in the morning as a shortcut on the lock screen. When you plug in headphones, the new OS will serve up music based on your location, eliminating the need to find the music app. These new features join the lock screen’s current offerings for circumventing the home screen grid: the swipe-up control center and swipe-down “today” window.

Aside from these shortcuts, iOS 9 will offer a new interactive hub in the form of a personalized search panel. Here, sitting to the left of the home screen, you’ll see shortcuts for contacts and apps, both filtered by context. It’s like the Home Screen 2.0—instead of a dumb grid, it guesses who you might want to talk to or what you might want to do, based on where you are, what time it is, and what you’re doing. It’s worth noting that the Apple Watchalready works like this. On the wrist, notifications and messaging shortcuts take precedent over the bubbly home screen of apps.

The most important part of the new panel is a souped-up version of search. In terms of how we use our phones, it could prove the most transformative feature of all. Search in iOS 9 will pull information and functionality out of apps themselves and drop it right into the results. A search for a sports score, for example, will give you a live card with the score, just like Google does on the web. Thanks to a new API, third-party apps can make their own content available. Meanwhile, Siri will gain new powers, like the ability to “deep link” reminders and messages to specific packets of content inside other apps.

All of this represents a big shift. Answers, info, and functionality that once existed only as icons on your home screen soon will be baked right into search, through both text and voice, via Siri. Back in the day, if you wanted to look up a movie review, you opened the Rotten Tomatoes app. If you wanted to convert cups to quarts, you opened your favorite conversion app. If you wanted to set a reminder … well, you get it. Soon, search will be the easiest way to do all of these things. Not just to access these apps but to actually use them. And when the act of checking a sports score or reading a movie review is fully subsumed into search, you’re not just talking about the end of the home screen—you’re talking about the end of apps themselves.

This is still a ways off. Apps will hang around for the foreseeable future. Apple will still champion bite-size software and make life-affirming TV ads showing off stargazing applications and deep sea-diving applications and applications that analyze your baseball swing. But for most of the stuff you do on your phone every day, you can expect to see functionality extracted and repackaged and sprinkled throughout your phone’s interface. Little by little, apps will soften and dissolve. Siri and search will become more and more capable. Utility will continue to leave the home screen and settle in other places where it’s slightly more convenient.

For now, the stoic home screen is still around, still right there at the heart of the iPhone. But chances are you’ll see it less and less. Increasingly, the action is buzzing around above it, beside it, above it, and underneath it. We’ve come a long way in a short time on mobile. We’re no longer homebodies.

About the Author

Prejeesh Sreedharan

Author & Editor

I am a Biotechnologist very much interested in #SciTech (Science And Technology). I closely follow the developments in medical science and life science. I am also very enthusiast in the world of electronics, information technology and robotics. I always looks for ways to make complicated things simpler. And I always believes simplest thing is the most complicated ones.

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