Today's iPhone announcement and subsequent heaping of praises upon Jobs and Co. reminded me once again why I use an Apple every day. Things just work. It's also another reminder that we should try to create things that are simple enough that they just work
Which brings me to a story about helping my mom set up the Mac Mini I got them when I was home over the holidays. I set up Apple Mail, their new scanner/printer/fax, and my mom's new iPod. At every turn, things were easier than she expected them to be. That's really Apple's secret. Users (real users, not tech geeks) don't want choices, they just want things to work, and Apple currently does that better than anyone else.
Questions like "How do I get this CD onto the iPod" that were answered with "Put in the CD and then connect the iPod" were like a breath of fresh air. Users coming from a Windows world expect things to be harder than they need to be. I configured Apple Mail to use her Gmail account and she's already sent me a scan of a postcard that she got from an old friend of mine. I can't imagine explaining to her how to do that on a windows machine. There are too many options, too many ways of doing everything, and too many steps to remember. On the Mac you just push the scan button, click the paper clip on your e-mail, and grab the image out of the Pictures folder. Isn't that what we really what should happen.
The key point, I think, is that even though everyone in the world thinks that they need a general purpose computing device, very few people actually do. Just give most people a few easy to understand, use, and, most importantly, integrated apps and they'll be far happier than if you give them everything in the world and leave it up to them to figure out how everything fits together.
I know that my mom sure is, and isn't that really the ultimate test.