Anti-Apple headlines are always good clickbait

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

I was casually browsing the tech news today about found this gem of an article: Fuchsia, Google’s Experimental Mobile OS, Solves Glaring Problems That Apple Doesn’t Get.

iOS is a creaking, rickety mess. You could harp on the details, a la Don Norman. But the big picture is this: A home screen filled with dozens, even hundreds of icons, some of them buried in folders, none of them consistent, and all of them shouting for your attention—that’s not the way of the future. 

Sure, it's a rickety mess that is more stable, secure, and popular than any other platform outside of Android, which also uses the "wall of apps" UI. Also, why call out these icons as "inconsistent"? If anything, the icons on iOS are too consistent.

I’ve had my eye out for a long time on what could replace the wall of apps. Turns out, Google is working on a possible contender—an experimental mobile OS dubbed Fuchsia.

Well halle-frickin-lujah! I'm all for mobile operating systems getting better, and I agree the "wall-of-apps" home screen needs to evolve, so I'm happy to hear Google has something that, as the title of the article says, has solved a problem in 2017 that Apple hasn't yet. How long until I can get this on my Android phone?

The OS is still in a very early stage—it’s hard to imagine it landing anytime in the next couple years—but what’s there so far is intriguing.

Oh okay, so this isn't something that that's coming out soon. Let's say we're 3 years or so away from thing being a thing? D we know what iOS will look like in 3 years to compare it to? Nope. We don't even know what iOS is going to look like in 30 days when they unveil iOS 11.

But carry on, even though this isn't coming anytime soon, let's look at this wonderful new UI.

The most obvious feature is that the wall-of-apps icon is gone. Instead, there’s a scrolling feed of “stories,” which include your recently used apps.

Excellent, they've taken away my apps and have replaced the home screen with the multitasking menu.

That’s where things get interesting, if you start extrapolating just a bit. It’s notable that these early wire frames don’t actually use the word “apps.”

Interestingly I can browse my iPhone or Android phone for hours and never see any of my apps call themselves apps either. Yikes!

By contrast, calling these cards “stories” tends to suggest that each card might be an app—but it might also be a bundle of apps, which you accessed, say, in trying to find a sushi restaurant nearby, then booking a reservation, then hailing an Uber.

This is absolutely a great sounding way to interact with a phone. I love the idea of my phone being able to bring my apps together in a way that makes the things I do easier and faster.

To be clear, Fuschia might not go anywhere. Google might not be focused on building the hypothetical functionality I’ve laid out above.

So the demo doesn't do any of the things you suggested, it's just an idea you had for what this may turn into.

Fuchsia does indeed look like an operating system that breaks the norms we have come to expect from smartphones over the last 10 years, and I don't want to tell people not to daydream about the future of computers. But all that said, this sort of hyperbole in the tech press drives me up the wall. This is not Google's new operating system, and it does not "solve glaring problems Apple doesn't get" as the title suggests. It's an early prototype of software Google ay or may not keep working on and evolve into something usable.

Everything in this article is the imagination of the writer, which again is fine, but framing this hypothetical operating system that's loosely based on what's seen in this pre-pre-pre-alpha build as evidence of Apple being behind is just plain goofy. Googles should be encouraged to push user interface paradigms forward, but they shouldn't get credit for something that's not even real. It seems Google's "someday" projects get compared to Apple's real live shipping products. It's a whole lot easier to be positive about something that is literally just colorful boxes moving around a screen and imagine what they might do than actually ship something that works.