This is first detailed look at the usability of using apps – in this case on the iPad not the iPhone.
Jakob Nielsen has many detailed criticisms of the initial releases of apps but his overall comments seem to me to be bang on. I quote.
For or more than a decade, when we ask users for their first impression of (desktop) websites, the most frequently-used word has been "busy." In contrast, the first impression of many iPad apps is "beautiful."
The change to a more soothing user experience is certainly welcome, especially for a device that may turn out to be more of a leisure computer than a business computer.
One big question will remain unanswered for a year or so until we see how daily use of the iPad evolves: Will people use the iPad mainly for more immersive experiences than the desktop and mobile Webs? In other words, will people primarily settle on a few sources and dig into them intensively, rather than move rapidly between many sources and give each cursory attention?
Maybe people will begin to use the desktop Web for more goal-driven activities, such as researching new issues or performing directed tasks like shopping and managing their investments. And they might use the iPad for more leisurely activities, such as keeping up with the news (whether "real" news or social network updates) and consuming entertainment-oriented content. We don't know yet. The answer to this question will determine how far iPad UIs have to move from their current wacky style.
This distinction between goal-driven and ‘leisure’ activities goes to the heart of what the iPad is all about. My money is firmly on ‘leisure’. This is why I think so much of the commentary by the tech journalists is worthless – the iPad is not a laptop replacement – it has a completely new role in our lives.
Image source: Tom Raftery