Past editions of our iDesign series were created to share the storied history of iPod and iPhone product industrial design with all of our readers. This edition, our first of 2009, is different. It was primarily written for a specific audience: iPod and iPhone case developers.
Over the past couple of years, our readers have increasingly suggested that they’re tired of the endless stream of news about iPod and iPhone cases—some have even suggested that cases have become passe. Other readers, and our editors, have a different view: cases and more recent full body films are extremely useful, but there are too many of them for the average person to care about. Everyone knows that unprotected iPods and iPhones get beat up by scratches and drops, but the choice of protection is personal, and cases probably don’t require extensive reviews.
Or do they? Some readers and many case developers have told us that they really appreciate the details and pointers our case reviews include, because we help them develop better products that are more in touch with consumers’ needs, and often identify issues that even they’d missed. For obvious reasons, vendors aren’t always thrilled with our pointed critiques, but most understand that we have our readers’ best interests at heart, as well as access to an unparalleled collection of past, present, and even future cases for comparison. Our case reviews shouldn’t totally go away, then, right?
As we start this new year, we’ve decided that we’re still going to cover iPod and iPhone cases, but our coverage is going to be different. With this edition of iDesign, and a subsequent version that will be shortened and tailored for our readers rather than the industry as a whole, we are setting out a concrete, detailed list of case design best practices that we have seen over the years. Our goal is to put every company and every case designer on the same page regarding what has worked, and not worked, in touchscreen, Click Wheel, and screenless iPod case design. From now on, rather than enumerating all of the nuts and bolts in lengthy reviews, case reviews will simply point to the list and lets readers and developers know what we’ve been looking for. And if by some chance a radically new iPod or iPhone interface design emerges, we’ll update the big articles to reflect the best practices for that design.
Our iDesign article on the art of designing great iPod and iPhone cases begins with a discussion of protection and decoration, then looks at cases for Click Wheel iPods, continues on to touchscreen iPods and iPhones, the screenless iPod shuffle, and finally recent body films, each in their own separate sections. Use the page number buttons (or, soon, the pulldown menu) here to see all of the sections, which we’ve illustrated with representative photographs. As with past editions of iDesign, we hope that you enjoy and learn something useful from this article.