Complicated Apps Are The New Excuse  

Joost van der Ree has an interview with Andrew S. Allen, the interaction designer of Paper. This quote from the article made me further reflect about the tension between simplicity vs. obviousness & discovery vs. frustration:

My partner Georg Petschnigg and I have a passion for this nebulous phase in creation that happens before you get into productivity. What is the film before you get to Final Cut? What’s the presentation before you get to PowerPoint? Where do those ideas go? You write them down on napkins, you write them down on post-it notes, things are kind off all over the place. It just didn’t seem right, we all have those great ideas that we’ve written down and lost. That’s what kicked off the idea.

While I do believe the first version of Paper has a lot of issues, as Macdrifter neatly summarized, I also think it’s been an eye-opener under many aspects. Perhaps it’s because of the iPad’s larger screen, or the fact that innovation in creativity-focused apps trumps business or productivity software in terms of press exposure – I think Paper made us realize even more that old interface schemes from the PC era belong to another age, and that all the metaphors we were accustomed to will have to be re-imagined.

But I’m also noticing how, in the past five years, developers have followed a common trend in promoting their apps. “You write your notes down on napkins”. “Get rid of all those post-it notes”. “Stop sticking reminders on the fridge”. “Buy our app instead”.

It’s funny, because I haven’t used a post-it note in, I guess, years now. I have never written anything on the fridge either, but maybe that’s because I don’t like to put things on my furniture. I can concede that I did write stuff on napkins, though.

My point being, whilst apps have evolved in the past five years, the “excuse” has remained the same. Developers want us to ditch old, analog ways of managing our information to embrace the digital era. They want us to get rid of the post-it notes to buy a $0.99 todo manager.

But the digital era has already started. And it’s been one giant, massive boom. So wouldn’t it be more appropriate for these new, innovative apps to tell us that we should ditch old, PC-like complicated apps instead?


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