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Apple has made some tremendous strides in interface design over the last 25 years.
Nicholas Thompson's profile photoBen Bogart's profile photoJackson Carson (jxn)'s profile photoShalom Ormsby's profile photo
Hasn't every UI product that is still around? (I guess you could argue that the *nix console has not changed (at all), but I think that stability is a plus, not a minus)
The top one only ran on a $2500 (1987 dollars) unnetworked Mac tied to a 6ft power cord.

The second one runs 10 hours on a charge and connects wirelessly to the world.

there's more to UI than a screen!
Did you look at the image? The point here is that Apple seems to have gone full-circle. iOS and LaunchPad are virtually identical to the HyperCard interface (and really to the original Mac desktop)
Thank you apple for inventing WiFi, lithium-based batteries and the internet! Oh... wait.
hehe... never said they invented it, but it shows the strength of the (Xerox inspired) UI that it's still there and relevant after all those changes. Apple is a marketing company
Bob is right. Now when you aren't spending all your money on things you could get for at least half the price, you get to try figuring out how long it's been since your power cord fell out.
Hi Jer, I see your point. Which brings us right back to stability. (If they have gone full circle, what was all the crap in the middle? A mistake? An exploration?) Almost all (desktop) OSs are "windowing" environments (not the case in mobile devices, where there is one "window" that fills the whole screen and windows must be switched between). That has not changed at all.

Are you saying that the old and new apple interfaces are the same because they are both grids of icons? That seems pretty superficial to me. How many UIs don't involve grids of icons?

I've been thinking a lot about habituation and tools. Once we get used to some interface (habituate) the use of it is no longer conscious and it becomes an extension of our body-mind. It does not matter how bad the UI is, we have an amazing ability to habituate. Once we have habituated that tool, no matter how bad, becomes "normal" and ideal (unless something goes wrong). If the UI keeps changing (fundamentally, not just the aesthetic skin), then there is less chance for habituation.

I think this is the reason we still have screens, keyboards and pointers that move with body-movement (in this way mice, touchscreens, and even gestural interfaces are about the same thing). Not because those are the best input methods possible, but because we have been so habituated to them that they are more effective in the short term than any change. I think stability is good.

The only reason why people can play the violin so well is because the interface has not changed for generations. Miller Puckette thinks we'll never get good at (making music with) computers until they stabilize. I do think *nix is a good start, the "bourne shell" has only changed slightly since 1977! Without long-term stability there is not capacity to build long-lasting and virtuosic knowledge of a system.
It's not the strength or relevance of the UI... it's the fact that most people are more graphically-oriented than textually-oriented. I rarely use icons for anything, so Apple's interface is completely useless as far as I'm concerned.
There's no clever critical point that I was trying to make. I was just putting together a talk that mentioned Hypercard, and I was struck by how similar the interface was to the iPad (complete with small, purpose-built apps).

Stability in interface is good, but let's not forget there were dozens of iterations in between 1987 and 2012. Some weremore drastic than others, but it seems that things have come full circle for Apple.

Of course, there's a major philosophical distance between HyperCard and the iOS, but that's a topic for my next link-bait thread.
I think the bottom line is that UIs are not really changing that much, most change is aesthetic and outward design, not metaphor and meaning. I also think this is a good thing, because we resist too much change for a reason: habituation.
If only Apple had continued to develop HyperCard over the last 20 years. . . . sigh. :)
True that. Hopefully, they'll also make some strides with the Mac Pro soon...
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