The Address Book Paradox
The paradox is as follows: I can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times I use the Phone App on my iPhone to find a friend on my contacts list but I use my iPhone primarily to connect with the people I have on that same list. Be it my everyday friends through Messages and WhatsApp, my far away buddies through Snapchat, my family through Facebook or my colleagues through Mail.
With my communications operated by a multitude of apps that span beyond the phone number, the Address Book, in it‘s archetypal list of phone numbers might be outdated. But, the benefit in the idea of consolidating the people I talk to in an easily accessible place still holds true.
Therefore, as a design exercise, I elaborated on a couple of ideas to turn that seemingly static list of people into a slightly more ambitious project.
An Invisible Address Book
Apps and IDs associated with the Apple ID
I know that practically speaking this is a big challenge, but let‘s hypothesise that all my social accounts, be it Snapchat, WhatsApp, or else are integrated in my settings in the same way Twitter and Facebook are.
Apple (evil option) would have all those accounts centralised under my Apple ID, or ( not to be so evil option) they were all stored under an open source ID wallet product that was then connected to my Apple ID.
The point being, with all that info in the cloud, my phone could know where my friends are in each one of the apps I use to talk with them. In the following designs, I re-thought the list of people I talk to, today integrated in the Phone app, one level deeper into the phone‘s navigation layer.
it could be integrated on the iPhone.
You know the search view you can access by sliding down the Home Screen? Once slided, instead of auto-selecting the search field and enabling the keyboard (screen on the left), a list of the people I talk to would be available for convenience (screen on the right). Search would still work as it does, but a super easy and effortless list of people would be right there, one slide away from the Home Screen.
Friends as bundles of Apps on my iPhone
A simple tap on a friend‘s face would lead me to the detail view where, instead of the usual list of details, I‘d have access points to all the apps I use to talk with that friend. So, in the Home screen (on the left) I‘d have my apps sorted by me and on the Friend screen I‘d have only the apps I use to talk with him (on the right) — turning him into a sort of bundle of apps.
A bit further down on the same Friend screen (above), after the list of apps, a log of my communications with that friend — a people centric notifications center. So on the actual notifications center (left) I‘d have what happened recently across all apps and on the Friend view (right) I‘d have, let‘s say, the last 100 communication logs across apps in one easily accessible list. Meaning, when I‘d want to easily find that email or that Instagram mention from last week, this would be the place.
Et voilà, that‘s it…
The address book made invisible and somewhat ubiquitous navigation axis on my iPhone. Corporate, security and privacy hassle, yes, but maybe consumer dream… What do you think about it?
Reach me via Twitter @hifrankcosta — I’d love to talk about it.
I‘d like to disclaim that this is no attempt to do a better redesign of iOS. Apple‘s Product and Design teams are full of talented folks who surely thought this through a handful of times. This is merely a personal design / thinking exercise from an Apple fanboy who‘s in love with his iPhone 6 Plus.