Creative Selection By Ken Kocienda Book Review
Apple had a culture of improving products. Apple since 2002 had been working on a tablet that would be better version of Newton PDA, which was discontinued few years ago
But Steve Jobs at a time in 2005 decided that they needed a phone. The present phones were cheap and garbage. A team of around 15 engineers was collected to start work on a phone. A Non-Disclosure agreement was signed and the project was named Project Purple.
There was a seperate region with restricted access was aloted to this team. The goal was simple develop great software to accompany the phone. Steve Jobs was determined to ship it with a touch screen display and without a stylus.
There was everything from email client, to dailer to keyboard that took deep software wonders. One thing that they needed surely was the keyboard. The Newton had a handwriting recorganisation system that had a mixed response.
The Safari web browser was recoded to work on iPhone, the MacOS X was used as base for software. They worked with lot of demos daily done.
They wanted to find the best look and feel for the software, and wanted each action to be easy and intuitive. They created a swipe to unlock animation such amazing, that a person would know how to swipe by simply looking.
They worked to decide how fast should the animation me, how much should they scroll etc. One of the greatest challenges was the keyboard.
They initially planned to have a keyboard where a single key would have 3-4 alphabets written on it. This will give people larger keys to type. The person when types the whole word, the software would try to find the right alphabet for each key.
The software would decide which alphabet you pressed based on all the keys you press to type the word. It will use a predefined dictionary to make out what alphabet you meant.
This gave big keys, but the major problem, was that it was impossible to type the words that were not in dictionary. Names of humans for example, may not necessarily by in dictionary.
After months of work trying to figure out a dictionary, they found out, that they can have layers. A normal QWERTY keyboard was what they put. Area for each key got many a times smaller.
But there was a visual layer and a software layer. The area at visual layer was small. But software layer was bigger. The software had area of each key extending past the visual area. This led to area of each key extending past it, and overlapping one another.
This complex software, created a gradient of sensitivity, where upon each tap, the center of the visual area was most sensitive, and the overlapping area was less sensitive.
This meant that a tap in sensitive region (which was the visual key) meant that the key actually was pressed. But the tap in non-sensitive region, meant that software would decide what user actually meant.
Here came in the use of dictionary, where based on the last alphabet user typed, and the alphabets that overlapped, the software would predict which key user wanted to press. This gave really good results.
The software after refinement worked buttery smooth. Steve Jobs wanted the touch screen to be multi touch. Where there could be multiple gestures, to quickly do actions
Apple kept whole project a secret to extent that most engineers did not even know what the phone will be called till the actual release date.
There was a app made to make phone calls. It had a numeric keyboard and search contacts system. It natively supported rich text emails.
The only hardware buttons were home button, volume rockers and sleep/awake button. A cool 4 inch screen adored in front.