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The iPhone “Icon Ceiling” has been broken: is this the beginning of the end? (justinhileman.info)
160 points by KuraFire on Sept 13, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 92 comments

I feel like yesterday's announcement has left a news vacuum that is trying to be filled.

The announcement was not so amazing that the cheers are deafening; nor was it so disappointing or controversial that the opposite occurred. So, instead we're giggling at Jimmy Kimmel videos and long iPhone photoshops.

Perhaps this is why Apple hasn't announced the iPad mini yet -- to make sure the iPhone 5 gets a bit of time in the limelight. If it was announced yesterday, few people would be talking about the new iPhone today.

I can't be the only one that noticed that during the unveiling the Apple home page continued to display the iPhone 4S and the "new iPhone." It wasn't until later in the day that the front page switched from showing me the Macbook Pro to the iPhone 5.

When I loaded HN all I saw was one story about a journalist going "undercover" in an iPhone factory. I didn't read it.

The hype surrounding each new Apple product is no mistake. Steve Jobs waited to die until the iPhone 4S was finished unveiling. If Apple wants to keep its market position, they will need to keep the hype coming in a carefully timed and orchestrated manner.

Absolutely. Apple has primarily been a marketing company for the last decade. They should keep that in mind, for their own sake.

Some would argue for a consumer oriented company selling expensive goods to be profitable, a marketing company is the only kind of company it can be.

Marketing means understanding your users, and if you don't understand your users how do you convince them to give you the money? Users are not like government officials or company executives where you can convince them by a slideshow or a list of bullet points about why the product is great; the product itself needs to be great because consumers are the ones using it.

And "great" depends on your user's perspective.

Absolutely. No technology comes out of Apple at all. You should try and maintain some grip on reality, for your own sake

I disagree - yesterday's event was not flashy at all. It was all about hardware and specs. Even the short jab at marketing didn't seem too serious ("lightning and thunderbolt, haha").

I'm still not sure how to feel about this. I think I love the iPhone 5, but iOS6 feels underwhelming.

I'm totally stoked for the iPad mini. I've got an iPad 2 and the new iPad, and I bought a Nexus 7 for testing.

I'm not crazy about the Nexus 7 software and browser, but I love the weight! The screen size is "good enough" and definitely worth making smaller to get the weight down.

Anyway, I agree that's why they did separate the events. The iPad mini is going to sell like crazy.

If it's essentially the new iPod Touch with a bigger display and $100 bigger price, will they still sell like crazy? The iPod Touch (32GB) starts at $299. I could maybe see a 16GB iPad Mini at $299 but it could be $349 or $399 for the cheapest device. For Joe Consumer, that'll be a tough sell against a $199 Kindle Fire HD.

In addition to the announcement not being that amazing in absolulte terms, the leaks this time were pretty much 100% exactly right.

Apple's big reveal was that the iPhone 5 was, in fact, pretty much exactly what everyone expected them to announce for the past half year or so.


I enjoy that the media hypes the iPhone release and then bashes it for not living up to the hype.

What is the next thing on the hype horizon? The iPad mini?

As usual xkcd provides just as much insight, http://xkcd.com/605/

And for something a bit cruder, but even more phone related http://www.buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/the-day-smartphones-stop-g...

Sums up this article perfectly. Hilarious, thanks for sharing! :)

Anyone can make a larger smartphone display. But if you go large for large’s sake, you end up with a phone that feels oversize, awkward, and hard to use. iPhone 7 features a 7-inch display designed the right way: it’s bigger, but it’s the same width as iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, 6, 6G and 6GS.

I don't know why everybody claims that the iPhone has the "perfect" screen size[1]. I have never had a problem with any android phone size... they are larger, but nobody ever considers they aren't just larger for larger's sake.

I appreciate the larger screen, not only for the extra space on the keyboard but because I like the extra display. My pockets aren't miniature. They can fit a slightly larger phone. Sitting down with any phone in my pocket is uncomfortable, so I always take my phone out of my pocket. Screen size for pocket size is not an issue.

My thumb is not tiny, and can reach across an extra inch. I don't know how far away the guy in the linked article holds his thumb, but I have always been able to reach across every android I have come across, without a problem. The -times I notice that I cannot reach across don't matter because most apps that are designed well don't put tiny buttons on the side of the screen.

I would enjoy a larger android with the iPhone retina resolution more than an iPhone with the retina resolution.


As a counter-point, I bought a Nexus S (4.3") when they were first available, I loved it and appreciated the screen size bump from my older Nexus One. But when my employer gave me a Galaxy Nexus (4.7"), I thought the screen was too large. I can still use the phone, but a lot of one-handed uses feel awkward or strained because my thumb can't reach the top of the phone without having to first reposition the phone in my hand. When I go back to my Nexus S, I miss the size and clarity of the larger screen, but I love having the smaller and lighter device in my hand, and it's so much easier to use.

While I still prefer the Android OS, I think Apple has struck a good balance in the iPhone 5 by making the screen larger and a proper widescreen resolution (I love being able to watch Netflix fullscreen on my GNex), and the hardware design looks amazingly good. I just wish I could run Android on it instead of iOS.

Nexus S had a 4-inch screen (but it had an aspect ratio of 5:3 not 16:9, which means it had a noticeably larger screen than the iPhone 5).

This is a good opportunity to remember that we measure screen size by the diagonal. Which might be misleading if you are comparing screens of different aspect ratios. Most people seem to think Android tablets have a larger screen than the iPad (10.1 vs 9.8 inch), while the iPad has a larger screen because it's 4:3.

For those interested:


I needed to get another phone weeks before yesterday's iPhone announcement, so I went with the Galaxy Nexus, since it is contract-free and affordable.

Attempting to select multiple emails, one-handed across the screen with my thumb, has lead me to drop the phone several times.

Fortunately it is built like a cheap plastic tank. Dropping it is part of how I introduce it to people. "Remember when you used to drop your phone and the back and battery would go flying off, but the phone would be fine?" CLUNK

From a physics perspective isn't a flying battery a good way to dissipate energy?

(That was the point)

What do you prefer about Android?

I prefer Android because it allows apps to do more things for the user, and allows them to better integrate with the system as a whole.

I can replace the on screen keyboard with one that has a full five-row keyboard for times when I SSH into a machine. On a similar vein, when I SSH into a machine, I can actually leave the SSH session running in the background while I switch to another app, without fearing that the OS is about to kill my SSH app while I'm looking something up or responding to a text message. I can also leave my IRC client running in the background without it constantly needing to reconnect when I switch back to it.

Intents in Android, especially in combination with the global Share mechanism, allow any app to receive arbitrary data from any other app, meaning apps don't need to know about specific apps or services in order to integrate with them. Clicking on a URL allows you to choose which browser (or set a default) to open the link in, allowing you to use alternate browsers (or alternate email clients, SMS apps, dialers, etc); tapping Share in the browser allows you to send the current URL to any application that can receive a URL, making apps like Instapaper, Pinboard, and 3rd party Twitter clients have the same capabilities as first party applications.

Sideloading apps means I'm not limited to installing programs from the Android Market/Play Store, and can do things like buy apps directly from the Humble Indie Bundle and install them on my own.

Proper background service support, and allowing apps to affect things outside their sandbox, lets me run programs like Locale [1] that can monitor the phone's status, location, etc, and modify the phone's settings automatically based on a set of conditions that I've pre-arranged. My phone automatically silences itself at night time and while I'm physically at work, turns on my Wifi when I'm at home or work while defaulting it off when I'm out and about, and more.

That's just some of the reasons I like Android better than iOS.

1: http://noswap.com/blog/locale/

Because Apple.

The notion of a "perfect" screen size makes exactly as much sense as a perfect ring, glove, shirt or shoe size - none.

>The notion of a "perfect" screen size makes exactly as much sense as a perfect ring, glove, shirt or shoe size - none.

Really? Because any device but has to be sold to hundrends of millions people, western, asian, african, men, women, adults, teenagers, etc, must accommodate their median hand size to fit comfortably well.

So, the notion of a "perfect screen size" makes PERFECT sense: it's the one thats usable by the majority of millions of people. And it's not as much a specific screen size, as a guideline: the median finger must be able to reach the upper corner easily.

This post contributes negative value to Hacker News.

>Your schtick [1][2][3][4] is predictable.

Here's a novel idea: how about dealing with the argument I presented?

How about this Android is the perfect size because they have a size for everyone.

> Because any device but has to be sold to hundrends of millions people

Or, they could make more than one device. Brilliant! Of course everyone else except Apple has already figured that out.

>Because any device but has to be sold to hundrends of millions people

And kill economies of scale, fragment their device ecosystem, present people with superfluous insignificant "choice" when one reasonably sized model can fit most needs perfectly fine, etc. Yes, very clever.

>Of course everyone else except Apple has already figured that out.

And how is that working for them?

I'd say pretty well. Samsung is the top phone manufacturer whether you agree with their strategy of peppering the market with dozens of slightly different versions of the same two or three phones.

Top phone manufacturer? Yes. Best apps? Arguably - no.

Because of the various resolutions, Android is a hell to maintain from a developer point of view. That's why apps on Android usually look (&work) like crap compared to those on iPhone or WP7. Even top-tier apps, like Facebook, look & feel worse on Android.

Top? Maybe by volume. Counting developing countries.

Surely not by quality of construction, original designs, or apps.

Plus, all those different versions get you this: http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/15/3023119/android-device-div...

Compromise and perfection are two rather different words!

Maybe, but there is such a thing as the "perfect compromise", since you obviously cannot offer a different screen size for every hand size.

Remember the original Xbox controller, designed for giant man-hands? I'm sure the people behind that didn't see anything wrong it either.

I wish there was an iPhone 5-sized Android out there that didn't suck.

I have a Galaxy Nexus. The keyboard is precisely why bigger is not better for me. Typing anything one-handed or hitting something on the upper or lower right of the screen is difficult for me; I end up letting the device rest in my hand somewhat precariously, which is extra fun when standing on a shaky bus in stop-and-start traffic.

I'm not the biggest person but my hands aren't tiny. I've been able to use other (e.g.) Nexus phones without any trouble. So from my perspective the bar ought to be higher than "we're making it bigger because we like more pixels" or whatever.

I'm not sure about what you mean by retina, but there are Android phones with both higher PPI and larger screen than the iPhone 5.

I figured that would happen eventually, but I wasn't aware of anything yet. Links?

The iphone 7 prototype looks like a good start but they can take it much, much farther. A quick calculation: my arm is roughly 34 inches long and an icon row is about 1/2 inch. Factoring in for hardware chrome they could squeeze in maybe 64 rows for a whopping 256 apps on the home screen! There is TONS of room to grow here.

My first thought when I saw it; I used to have a receiver with a remote of those dimensions. Of course now I have one with a touchscreen remote...

They could add rails for the arm, like for the guns in Taxi Driver, except you could slide the iPhone up and done your arm. That way you could still reach everything with your thumb.

This suggests an augmented reality approach where the icons are arrayed on a curved 2D surface in front of you, with your iPhone being just a window onto it. Or, heck, why a surface when you could have the whole sphere surrounding you? I'm pretty sure we could pack thousands of icons onto that, and just think of the awe-inspiring demos.

If you read the whole thing, this seems like some very clever satire.

The only reason iPhone 7 mockup looks weird is because our laptops' screens are not tall enough.

I predict Macbooks Airs in 2014 will be 28 inches tall and will display the new iPhone 7 photos flawlessly.

You jest, but I'm afraid we're going in the other direction. 4:3 laptops are all but dead, and spotted an extra-wide (~21:9?) laptop at Best Buy the other day.

Personally, I'm looking forward to CinemaScope (2.66:1) A/R displays.

I for one would rather see a 4:1 display so that I could watch Napoléon (1927) in its original format.

When I started reading the article, I thought 21 icons meant they overflowed the first screen, and that the phone shipped with one icon on the second screen. That seemed very un-Apple-like and interesting. As soon as I realized that number includes the four in the dock, and that there are still three spaces left on the first homescreen, suddenly it seems like a non-event.

This is extrapolation like the ones with Glenn Beck at the blackboard.


Very well written, measured and well-paced satire. I think the picture at the end is unnecessary, but understandable.

Question: Per this article, what iPhone version will be able to reach to the moon?

Assuming: Increase in icons is quadratic over time. Each iPhone version requires an extra 8.6mm in height to hold the extra icons. The distance to the moon is ~240,000 miles. The length of the iPhone 1 is negligible.

Step One: Regress the data from the article to get the equation "y = 3.25x^2 - 27.65x + 76.95", where y = # of icons and x = iPhone version number.

Step Two: Convert equation to mm. 8.6mm increase for every 5 icon capacity (difference between iPhone 4 and 5) => multiply our equation by 8.6mm/5 icons => new equation is "y = 5.59x^2 - 47.558x + 132.354", where y = mm.

Step Three: Solve for x when y = 386,242,560,000mm (240,000 miles in mm).

*Answer: The iPhone 262,864 will be able to reach to the moon, opening up a key market for mobile users in the year 330,592 AD. It will debut with a little under 225 billion apps, too.

There's also the iPhone 10, the tallest iPhone yet!


And iPhone 20:


Thumb actions might be a little hard there.

Both of those have potential as interfaces for music.


After looking a bit at the above site, I'm also thinking that they have potential as interfaces for teledildonics. (This is both serious and a joke at the same time. This goes for the whole field.)

Speaking of music, that'd be a reasonable approximation of an http://www.eigenlabs.com/ - and it wouldn't need a separate laptop to act as speakers :P

Wow, that's cool. It's an instrument from a 1980's sci-fi novel!

re: teledildonics, the vibration function on the iPhone would become more popular, and I'm not even joking.


This article isn't kind of a joke. This article is exactly a joke. It's making fun of Apple rumors and complaints after new product announcements.

I thought it WAS a joke - the icon projection gave it away.

I started reading this with my usual skepticism. (It isn't hard to believe that some of this could come from the likes of zdnet, or cnet.) I started to crack a smile at the exponential growth graph, then with the picture of iPhone 7, I absolutely lost it! too funny

I would say, it's not only icons count, but the screen aspect ratio also. Now it is more to a stripe than to a square. Having an unpleasant feelings about this, and the future of Apple.

On that note, why can't we change the icon size already? I think I've clicked enough 1 hour ago | flag | 23 comments links by now to handle at least twice as many icons on screen...

The site isn't loading. Does anyone have a summary?

Back (hopefully for good?)


The author also completely ignores the possibility of a double-sided phone. They've already shown you can have glass on both sides. Now just put another screen under one.


Given the estimates of the iPhone growth rate later in the article, I'm 99% certain the hyperbolic statements about the demise of Apple are satire.

If Steve Jobs was still around, i'd predict that Apple would wait a few years after Google Goggles. They'd work to get it right, and the future smart phone wouldn't have a screen at all.

In post-jobs world though, its going to be a me-too game.

I think you mean Google Glass. Goggles is their app for scanning photos and identifying things.

Google Goggles used to be site previews, IIRC.

I think those are called Instant Previews.

Now, maybe, but back then...

Ahh, gotcha. Yeah, I had no idea they'd called it Goggles, but that wouldn't surprise me.

The iPhone 5 is ok.Tomorrow i order one and have fun the rest of the Year :)

Back now.

I have a feeling that pg should include an algorithm that penalizes submissions whose titles end in a question mark. (For the articles that aren't sarcastic, at least.)

Or the more extreme version: Add a single reply, "No.", and close the comments.

Check out the "iPhone backup shootout" under Related Articles. Hilarious!

The manipulation present on that "projections" graph alone is nauseating.

You know it's a joke, right?

...it is a joke, isn't it? Oh god I hope so.


The sky is falling! Quick, run like a chicken with your head cut off!

I hereby invoke Betteridge's Law.

Broken link?

Is this a well written satire?

It was already broken with groupings.

Are you f*cking kidding me? This is like tabloid trash.

Did you notice the satire?

I did not.

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