The iPhone as accelerator for software design

The iPhone sparked a software design revolution. I think the most important change is that software evolved from compulsory to serving. This is a big change that is completely changing the software industry. Software used to be about how it would automate a process. Now it is about empowering the individual.

The iPhone (and the apps it is running) itself is a child of the maturing of the field of interaction and user experience design. It was just the accelerator.

Last week I talked to a software company existing for 25 years that only recently hired their first user experience designer. Why? They never had to. Software was always about the proces, and they are the best in their field. What changed is that software now is about the people using it. We want to be in control instead of a computer telling us what we can and can’t do.

This shift is fundamental, maybe even disruptive.


Join Somehow

At Somehow we are looking for smart people to join our company to make wonderful things. We design mobile applications that make work better. We design apps for people who clean large corporate offices and hospitals or for people who park cars.

Our process always starts by interviewing employees and joining them during their working day. With this information we start making prototypes and a business case. Our goal is to use data and technology smart and creatively to make someone’s life better. At the same time we generate enormous amounts of data. Which we visualize by designing easy to use interfaces that give new insights and competitive advantages to our clients.

If you’re looking for a job or internship and like data, mobile interfaces and empower people, get in touch.

  • Project manager
  • Internship designer (Dutch description on Fontanel)
  • Mobile ‘Jack of all trades‘ allround developer, Android/iPhone(optional) and database wizard who has CTO ambitions
  • Backend developer, PHP. You know what to do with large amounts of data

Send me an e-mail at wilbert [at] or a message on Twitter.


Our office/studio is situated in Amsterdam in the old Volkskrant building.



Content as Software

I recently worked on a large mobile project for the Volkskrant. The project contained mobile websites and numerous applications for different devices, including iPhone apps (iTunes link).

The Volkskrant on iPhone

Content as Software
I learned about the term content as software from Gerd Leonard. Not only does it sound very interesting, it’s also a very exiting development that follows from a series of events. A move from RSS, followed by widgets, API’s and standardization in platforms.

These new platforms like Adobe Air or the iPhone development platform make developing applications easier and accessible to a new and broader groups of developers.

On the other side software is being replaced by the – todays very powerful – browsers. Google is working hard to replace Microsoft Office functionality with Google Docs, and adding even more (web) functionality like working remotely together on documents.

A computer without internet connection is half the fun, or to most people useless. The computer as a communication device needs the web as much as it needs power. Todays software needs the web.

Should a media company make software?
Content as Software. Should media companies deliver content as software? We decided to with the Volkskrant iPhone application because we think an application gives a better user experience and is more effective on the iPhone platform compared to a mobile website. The New York Times released a desktop application based on Adobe Air. The content in the application isn’t unique, the presentation is.

A great advantage of distributing software for publishers is that it gives control to some extend. For example the Times Reader has free and subscription only articles in the same application. The “free” user experience is good, but they will try to persuade you to become a subscriber.

So, should a media company make software?
I don’t know. Just because we now can as easily develop software as we can develop websites doesn’t mean we should. From a pure logic perspective it doesn’t add much value to the content. It’s still the same content. From an emotional perspective it does add extra value to the experience, it’s a nice package. And that’s something you shouldn’t underestimate. An application is also more persistent, it’s always there on your startup screen, desktop or in your dock.

The best thing with content as software is to just try it. Like you would try with a website. Release soon and often. Todays software is like the web.

The Volkskrant on iPhone
Screenshots of the Volkskrant iPhone news application

Times Reader
Screenshot of Times Reader Desktop application