Apple Posts Interface Guidelines

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Apple has posted their Human Interface Guidelines (HIG, PDF link) for programming for the iPhone. What this means is that they've completed the rules and guidelines for how they expect you, the iPhone user, to interact with applications on the device. It also means that now that they have interface guidelines, they can begin focusing on building the software they need for native third party applications and not web applications. Yes, I said it; worst of all, I believe it. Even worse, I think this is the big news of the weekend, even more than bricked iPhones. You'll have to brave the cut for why.

First, John Gruber of Daring Fireball at least scanned the front page and noted the temporality of the word currently. Their language implies that another document they'll have to post another set of HIG for native apps.

"Note: Currently, developers create web applications for iPhone, not native applications. Therefore, this document focuses solely on the presentation of web applications and other web content on iPhone.

I posted long ago that John Siracusa of Ars Technica posted an excellent article back in June stating that Apple needed to get their Human Interface Guidelines finished before they could provide any kind of programming support for the iPhone. The HIG are essentially a required element before one can work on, or at least finish working on, a system development kit (SDK) for the iPhone.

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p> Not everyone is a developer, so not everyone is going to understand what Siracusa is talking about throughout; he gets a bit technical at times. To that end, I've cherry-picked a few of his excellent paragraphs that detail why the HIG are important and necessary as a foundation before 3rd party applications can arrive (emphasis added):

"But the second thing that attracts developers to the iPhone is more profound, and it explains a lot of the anxiety surrounding iPhone development. The iPhone is not just a new platform, it's an entirely new set of rules for interface design. That is what struck me the most once the actual iPhone demos started. There are no windows, no close/minimize/zoom widgets, no checkboxes, no radio buttons, no scroll bars, no nothing."
"But what does an application behave like in this new world? What makes a pleasant, easy to use iPhone application? Where are the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines? No, seriously. Yeah, sure, we're all such old pros that we can just ignore the Mac HIG and riff, right? After over 20 years of the Mac-like GUI, maybe that's true. But you have to know the rules before you can know when to break them. We're all in the dark on the iPhone."
"And that includes Apple. Not only does Apple have to figure out what makes a good iPhone application, it has to actually create the APIs to produce such a thing. Okay, so no scroll bars, but surely there will be some standard way of scrolling, some standard gesture recognition engine, and so on. Apple has to create all this, if only for its own internal sanity, before it can really get cranking on iPhone application development."

So... now that the Human Interface Guidelines folks at Apple have finished the web guidelines, what do you figure is next on their plate?

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Apple Posts Interface Guidelines

2 Comments

This is great news! I really want Apple to have a repository (similar to widgets) for iPhone web apps. I know that there are plenty of resources already, but there is something comforting knowing Apple is really supporting development and having a repository would be a great way to show the love.

One of Leopard's new features is syncing widgets from mac to mac, so if you have multiple macs all of your widgets are the same. It's not too much of a leap of faith that a future update (maybe even just a feature unlocked on a certain date; it's tough to say given the iphone's locked-down firmware) would bring the same update to iPhones as well...