The application that I’m going to reflect on is called flipboard. It’s an ipad application for RSS feeds. Flipboard describes itself as a social magazine, which is literally true because everything inside is organized in a magazine like manner, and to go from one page to another you just need to flip the page, as natural as flipping a book. There are several points that the presenters made during the presentation which are very interesting to talk about.
First, User Interface vs. Functionality, who wins? This is a hard question because the answer should be different in different times. However, as functionality becomes nearly saturated (by saying saturated I mean for each functionality we should be able to find at least one application which can achieve that), I believe User Interface is wining over Functionality nowadays. Flipboard is one case. From the presentation itself, I don’t see much difference in functionality between news pulse and flipboard, however, if I were to make a choice I will choose flipboard simply because its beautiful interface and enjoyable user experience. The simplicity of its design makes you feel so natural that you even don’t realize its existence, which is more of an art than pure design.
Second, the flipping through pages is to simulate real life experience like reading a book, therefore users feel natural. This may due to the natural resistance that we have in oppose to changes. Object has inertia, human thought also have. So how far should we go to simulate real life experience, and when should we force people to change? I don’t know the answers.
Third, flipboard doesn’t allow customization, which I think is a big loss. We like to customize things because we have an inner desire to express ourselves and get recognized. If in the future flipboard can allow users to design their own life magazines and deliver them to others, it will be very nice to see. Also, magazines companies can sell their magazines through flipboard which may be a more healthy business module for flipboard itself.
Fourth, during the presentation, the “cannot clear cache” and “only one user” problems are mentioned, personally I don’t feel them as big problems because I don’t think a normal user with care about how much cache an application uses, (but of course technically this is a issue which should be fixed) Also, how many people will share ipad with others? I believe the number is decreasing as years passed by, therefore the problem should become less and less important 😀
At last, as mentioned by the presenters, when the flipboard team started to build this application, they never think about how they can make money out of it, yet all they cared was is how to serve users better. I respect this spirit a lot 😀