One of the interesting effects of Apple's iOS, found in iPhones and iPads, is that software manuals are no longer included, not even as a PDF. I remember the days when there were large manuals included with all software, though few people really slogged through them (unless there was a desperate problem, and then it was a slim hope that drove you to consult the manual).

But something about the touch interface of iOS, along with its small screen and monotasking nature, has led to the end of the manual. Rising printing costs probably helped this trend, along with the nature of digital downloads (why have a manual for something that is immaterial?), the simplified tasks, and the ridiculousness of a manual larger than the device. There is even a "Missing Manual" book series, for those who pine for the old days.

Instead, iOS invites us to explore the software. What's this button do? What happens if I drag here, or do a long touch on this command? While this may frustrate some, it's a wonderful way to learn. You can learn at your own pace the items that interest you. There is the simple thrill of discovering something new. The intimacy of iOS, since iPhones and iPads are something you hold closely, or cradle in your lap, also encourage this exploratory learning. Instead of the old Windows towers that were large, grey, and intimidating, here is something simple, quiet, and unassuming; it invites one's curiosity.

There is still a needed place for clear instructions, but I'd much rather quickly search for those instructions on a support page than find the manual and then thumb through a table of contents and index.

So let's say goodbye to the old phone-book style manual, and turn to an era of technological exploration.

Posted
AuthorKevin Taylor