Apple’s Innovation Intelligence
Apple released its first iPhone in 2007, no earlier than other smartphone producer. At the beginning of its occurrence, it creatively renovate its touchscreen rather than traditional physical keyboard and stylus, which was monopolized by Blackberry, Motorola and so on at that time. Nonetheless, Apple was seen as a design company at first that the first iPhone, we cannot deny, has lots of defects compared to other companies, like poor internet connection, lacking substantial function and a high price an so on. The user experience towards the touchscreen nowadays has confirmed its success in this innovation. iPhone has met people’s demand to use personal smartphones as a microcomputer which is easy to control and switch between applications smoothly. Its affordance has satisfactorily “correspondent with its intended function” (Lidwell, William, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler. Universal Principles of Design. Revised. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers, 2010.). We then look at the newly-released iPhone 11, as Apple mentions on iPhone’s webpage, “Just amount of everything” encapsulate this new version appropriately. The dual-camera system enables users to take a photo from wide to ultra-wide at the same time save the most detail of an enlarged photo, a new screen with better display technology improve the speed of facial identity and optimize the screen-looking. Other improvements in its camera all meet modern people’s daily demand for taking photos and shooting videos. As we look deeper as iPhone’s design module. It combines hundreds of function in one 13-inch box. Instant communicating with a receiver and a speaker, portable camera and an online personal album, digital wallet which enable us to pay without a physical credit card, music player as an iPod which can be connected to an earphone, maps and GPS, and most importantly, high-speed which is the base of mass online applications which satisfy our daily needs from all perspectives. We can also see the interaction between each modules: We adopt camera inside our social media that allows us to take photos or scan QR Codes; We insert maps and GPS when we’re calling a taxi or discovering restaurants or traveling guidances around us; We can even transform data between applications…As more and more applications share the same design logic and principle in their basic construction, the user experiences are also highly homogenized that lead to a better interacting experience, which also accords with the conformity principle in the design rule.
Modular principle in GUI
If we compare the computer system or a smartphone or any machine as a whole factory, integrated system, different applications or different functions can be compared to the machines as subsystems under the control of the factory. As the whole factory is a quite complicated system which owns millions of different modules to control different functions. Some of them may be independent of each other, but many of them may be adopted by several different machines. So in order to better organize them and watch their performance, designers divide them into different subsystems which control several elements and works as a whole to perform some functions. Therefore, an application was made and was represented with a specific graphical interface to distinguish and present their function. Also, the design of GUI also provides both the application designers and users with a standard for better regulating the aesthetic of the screen.
Module Analysis in RED—a social media and e-commerce platform
RED, also known as Xiaohongshu, is a mobile application in China as a community for users and some KOLs to post and share their product reviews, travel blogs and lifestyle stories via short videos and photos as well as an e-commerce platform. Basically it consists of 4 parts: the Front Page as the main sharing platform and are divided into My Following, Discover and Nearby to see people in different classifications; RED Mall which sells international products; Messages where users can interact with others and the Personal Profile page. This application is made to form a closed loop that users watch reviews, purchase items and produce their own contents.
On the Log in page, user can choose to create a new account which connect to his/her phone number, or they can just log in with their social media account (including Wechat, Weibo and QQ) as the app can find who is using RED from your friends on other social platforms. And the Share option also enables users to share with their friends on the former media. As a sharing platform whose main reviews are proposed with photos or videos, this app allow user to take photos or shoot videos from there camera or just choose from the album, it also has the function to record and publish a story by sliding to the right (similar to Instagram stories); It can also allow Users to discover posts from nearby users which adopt the location service of this smartphone; The accurate content distribution function is based on the big data algorithm which collects users’ reviewing habit. (BTW, I sometimes notice that it is also collecting my “words” from the microphone and messages sent on other platforms. For example, if I talked with my friends that I want to go to NYC next week and RED will present me with the recommended food, hotels, travel reviews in NYC on the same day. I guess it is quite common in many apps nowadays but it is also an interacting example on how this app links with other modules on the same phone to maximize its function). Products user view or those on the same categories will also be displayed on the RED Mall, which involves external payment method and delivery services. The message page allows users to check if anybody “likes” or “archive” their posts and they can also chat through a chat window.
From my perspective, The development of RED is actually based on several previous applications which share some similar functions. As Richard N. Langlois described in his Modularity in Technology and Organization, each module is independent but interdependent. I regard many modern functions which are quite sophisticated as public modules and what inventors do is to rearrange them in a new “box” to meet different demands, like what an Architecture Innovation mentions. Product Managers research on users’ psychology characteristics and behavior characteristics to design the most comfortable and effective interaction patterns, which may include the eye-movement habits of an interface, color preference, communicating demands, etc. What present on the “interface” of an application is just one final result from the whole design process out of many. There may be thousands of times failure on testing the cooperation of these independent modules, and it finally works together when it fits users’ habits.
Lidwell, William, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler. Universal Principles of Design. Revised. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers, 2010.
Richard N. Langlois, “Modularity in Technology and Organization.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 49, no. 1 (September 2002)