If you have an iPhone, I’m sure like me you’ve been hunting for those perfect Safari web applications. I have been seriously unimpressed with most iPhone applications. The folks at Blue Flavor have done something GREAT! (yes there are flaws).
First let’s talk about why other applications are lame.
Well they all aren’t lame, but they seem to be incomplete and to be respectful I’d have to say that it’s a miracle that any of these third party applications work at all. I mean, I can’t even keep my windows beta copy of Safari working long enough to bring you a screenshot of these applications. I mean I can’t even get proxy settings to work. It’s actually disabled!!!
But that being said, the lack of imagination with these applications in terms of interaction design and simple GUI design is just amazing. It seems the primary mix of applications fall into 2 camps: Copy cat and circa 1994. The copy cats just try to do everything like the iPhone standard apps already do. The circa 1994 look like all those lame engineering creations from 1994 with grey screens and standard fonts.
There are a growing number of applications being created every day. Some applications are for finding other applications. There are few in particular that got me started:
- iPhone Apps Manager
- iPhone Appr”>Mod My iPhone
- iPhone Appr
– works on iPHone
– works on iPhone or desktop or RSS feed. Formerly known as iPhone Applications List.
– iPhone list
Others have included an application list as part of their “portal” application infrastructure. Besides Leaflets, which does this, another is iPhoneConnection.
Leaflet is a copy cat application. It copies not only standard iPhone UI conventions (are they conventions already?) but it copies Mac OS X conventions as well. This by itself is not necessarily compelling (or bad). I mean the folks at Apple spent a long time creating a GUI that is winning praise from all walks of life, so why not copy it.
Leaflet excels because it also creates new paradigms intermixed quite well with the “old” conventions of Mac and iPhone. Their RSS feed reader is just fabulous for the form factor. Nothing radical, but just very well executed. The level of detail is right on. The use of a title list to the left and an article detail pane to the right is the exactly right framework for the form factor. Further having a toggle that allows you to just list titles without the left navigation is also crucial.
What puts Leaflets in an act by itself as a 3rd party application provider is that they understand the same design principles as Apple. Get the experience sharp and be as detailed as humanly possible with every feature you expose. Moving between views is beautiful and they manage the back button and other primary navigation well.
I like the direction of Leaflets as well. Let’s take sites “we use” and massage them for the iPhone. We’ll minimize the feature set to only what you need on the iPhone before going out to the main site, and make the interaction design flow more easily. They do this great with the NY Times which takes on their RSS feed view, but also with applications like Upcoming, del.icio.us, and Upcoming. Their news reader (headlines from the media) is also a nice application as well.
I do think that like the iPhone itself, they have missed some key opportunity points with some of these applications, but they were trying to find that critical mass of features that demonstrated the future possibilities and I think they did so really well.
Things that got me a bit stuck:
In upcoming if you are a beginner in upcoming you really can’t use the application. There is no general browser capability. You can only see things for the groups you belong to and your personal events.