Is the iPhone really a design classic?

London Design festival: Has British design lost its way? | Art and design | The Guardian

There’s a feature in today’s Guardian about the Anti Design Festival, which starts this coming Saturday in London and is a response to what they see as “25 years of cultural deep freeze”. One comment was on how, for example, the Beijing Olympics had a state-of-the-art stadium “by probably the world’s top architecture firm”, while the symbol of the 2012 London event will be a double-decker bus. In other words, British design is stuck in the past; a recent issue of British design postage stamps featured nothing designed after the 1960s.

One British design that was mentioned was the iPhone — designed by Jonathan Ive who is British, albeit working for an American company. Now, I have an Android phone, a competitor to the iPhone which also runs apps — not the same ones, necessarily, but apps all the same and they do most of the same stuff.

My Android has buttons — there’s a phone-up button, a phone-down button, a menu button, a home button, a search button and a back button. There’s also a scroll ball which you can press. And a touch screen.

I may be a geek, but I managed to get to grips with my phone in a very short space of time (and had some idea of how it worked from playing with one in the T-Mobile shop). Most of the buttons do what they say they do — if you press Home, it goes to the main screen, and if you press Search, it opens a search window (so as to allow you to do a Google search or search the Android Market). The only button which sometimes foxes me is the back button — it often features as an “up” button, taking you to the next level up in the application, such as the main menu in the Facebook or Twitter app, and sometimes it takes you to the app you were using when you clicked the link to take you to that app. It can be a bit confusing.

I’ve tried using the iPad (the upsized version of the iPhone and iPod Touch) in the Apple Store in Kingston. That’s got one button, which also doubles for scrolling purposes (you run your finger across it). It’s meant to be so easy to use, but to get the knack of using it, you’d have to buy one and read the manual, or at least play with it for quite some time. It may be a cool minimalist design, but it’s bare and its operation is not exactly intuitive, for me at least.

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