A few days ago, John Gruber and Matt Birchler had a bit of back and forth about the iPad and it’s intuitiveness as a device. Both sides of the argument had some valid points, but I knew which side of the fence I sat.
One line in particular struck a cord with me, from Matt’s original post on the subject:
As I have to say in every one of these pieces, I’m not arguing that macOS is trash, nor am I arguing that iPad software is perfect and needs no refinement. I’m just saying that humans have a tendency to mistake familiarity for intuitiveness.
After reading this short to and fro I had started to compile my own thoughts, but struggled to verbalise my feelings on the subject without it turning into a bit of a tirade. I then read this excellent, and concise, thought from Scott Willsey on Twitter, which expands upon Matt’s thoughts perfectly:
People who are good at computers forget how much time they put in playing with them to get that way, and then they think anything that they aren’t immediately equally good with is terrible because of it.— Scott (@scottaw) February 2, 2020
This statement, along with Matt’s post, perfectly sum up my thoughts on the tiresome ‘iPad vs. Mac’ debate. While this article debunks the idea that you can learn anything given 10,000 hours of practise, the theory behind this is still sound. If you put enough effort in to both learning, and practising something, regardless of the specific hour count, you will eventually get better at it. By its very nature, things seem simpler and more intuitive the more you understand it. This seems like common-sense to me, though it seems to be completely lost on those making an argument about which is more intuitive.
Take a simple task like shutting down a computer for example. For a Mac user, that device will be shutdown in 2 seconds flat. Give the same task to someone that has spent 20 years using only a Windows PC and you could imagine them moving the mouse around for 20 minutes looking for the Start menu. If they were willing to keep trying, and think differently they will eventually get it. If, however, they insist on following the old paradigms they’ve used for the last 20 years, they’ll get nowhere. Give the same task to my 5 year old, who’s only really known iPad’s, wont even understand the concept of shutting down at all.
While I’ve used a Mac’s in the past, I’ve spent so much time with iPad’s that I am now a lot faster and more efficient and doing any task I would need some form of computer for via an iPad. I don’t think this means that any system is more or less intuitive than the other, rather the old adage ‘you only get out what you put in’ applies in the 21st century more so than ever before.