First you take out the headphones. Untangle them. Then you take your phone from your pocket. Plug the headphones into your phone. Then you put the buds in your ears. They fit some of the time. They fall out some of the time. Then you pick up your phone and unlock it. Whack your thumb at the screen to get to where you want to go. Put on your music. Find that article you wanted to read. Then you start scrolling away. If you want to communicate to someone the thumbs come out again. Whack, whack, whack, whack, whack. Spelling mistakes get made. Auto correct hopefully tidies up your mess, or doesn’t mess up your tidy. Whack to send. Switch to another app. Etc. Etc.
This is it. The standard user journey that we do again and again day after day. For more and more hours at a time. And it’s insane.
Our brains are evolving to view Google as an extension of themselves. The infinite database of knowledge and content and the instant connections are both here to stay. Every year we are spending more and more time on our mobiles. We cannot get enough.
But we don’t want to be spending time on our mobiles. We do want to listen to music when we want. View and read content when we want. Connect with people when we want. It just so happens that right now the best extension that we have of ourselves is a small black rectangle we carry around, a wire and two ear buds we put into our ears to try and reduce the interference of the outside world.
Ultimately, this is not the fastest way for us to get what we want.
Apple makes great computers. One of the things that they’ve done so well for so long is give you easy control of your environment. No pressing ‘Alt’ or ‘Fn’ to change the brightness, the volume - any of the basic things that affect your senses. This is what reality needs too.
For many (myself included) life every day looks like this:
Huddled together in a test tube of white light. The automatic announcements shouting above our head. We try all we can to escape: look at the screen, buy headphones that fit even tighter to the innards of our ears. But to be honest it’s all a bit weak. Where are the buttons I press to control the brightness of the outside world? The volume? One day they will come. And with them so will all the content we now have to tap our way to. The best user experience is when it’s all right in our brains.
We are a wonderfully lazy species. Our desire to work less is probably one of the most powerful driving force behind our continued innovation. Right now we work too hard to get what we want.
One day we wont.