More practical than other books about the so-called post-PC era, Bergman explores the various manifestations of real-life, nontraditional computing devices (mobile phones, personal assistants, set-top boxes, animated toys, etc.). He displays and critiques various creations, detailing the tradeoffs designers make to accommodate both physical requirements (batteries and screen size, among others) and general human ideas about efficiency and pleasantness in a user interface. A section of full-color plates drives home the effect colors have on users' perceptions of interfaces.
One particular highlight surfaces during a protracted interview with Rob Haitani. Now with Handspring, Haitani was the project manager of the original PalmPilot, and he made numerous design decisions while developing the Palm OS. At one point in the wide-ranging interview, Haitani says, "[I]f you only read one book to understand handheld user interfaces, it should be Strunk and White's The Elements of Style." That's the kind of thinking that defines this book, and that's why it belongs on the reading list of everyone interested in the near future of computing and communications. --David Wall
Topics covered: Information appliances--including mobile phones, palmtop computers, Internet appliances, and on-board navigation devices for automobiles--and the way people use them. Specific products analyzed include the Netpliance i-opener, the Nokia 7110 mobile phone and 9110 keyboard-equipped communicator, and three operating systems: Palm OS, Microsoft Windows CE, and EPOC.
An important book. Anyone involved in either interaction design or the development of information appliances will find food for thought, and everyone in the industry should read Rob Haitani's observations about designing the PalmPilot.