The intangible tangible

Added on by Leon Jacobs.

The few times that I have been exposed to Android I have been very impressed. And from what I have heard about Jellybean, it certainly sounds like the kind of operating system that would make me feel like I am living in the future. There are certainly things that are hardwired in the OS that makes so much sense - like Swype.

I have been thinking that perhaps my next phone should be the Samsung S3. It strikes me as a very able piece of kit. Perhaps even able enough to make leave the iOS biosphere and re-invest in a new app environment.

But then, one rainy Swiss afternoon, in the Apple Store in Rive, I picked up the iPhone 5. On paper the phone looks okay. In your hand it feels like a million bucks. The way it physically handles, the intangible tangible is what Apple gets right.

They just did it again with the iPad mini.

The iPad mini. Fits in the hand of a normal type human.

When I heard of the iPad mini I shrugged it off as an entry device, something Apple is using to entice more people into the tablet market. Something to compete with the plethora of new mini tablets that are appearing on shelves.

This was not the device for me. What I use my iPad (1) for is for work first (drawing, scamping, brainstorming, taking notes, writing) and second for media consumption. I need the screen real estate, I thought.

But then, yesterday, I picked it up. Boom! The same solid intangible feeling you get from the iPhone 5. The way it fits in your hand and nestles up to you, you just want to create on it. And as somebody who is due to replace that iPad 1 soon, the mini presents an interesting choice. The 64GB model costs less than the entry level 16GB iPad 3.

Those companies who compete with Apple, who try and trump them on features neglect this basic truth. What Apple gets right, is this intangible tangible. It is the hours Jony Ives and his industrial design team spends thinking how to simplify, how to machine it better, how to craft the curves. And if they spend the same effort on the UI design now that they have taken over that responsibility as well I can only see Apple going from strength to strength.