Apple’s UI playground

Steven Johnson for Slate, “Is the Computer Desktop an Antique?”

“Now that Microsoft has largely caught up to the Mac in terms of basic file manipulation tools — thanks to Windows XP’s elegant user interface — the iApps have become a key differentiator for Apple. They are also an implicit acknowledgement that the desktop metaphor has its limits. Apple is moving toward a Swiss-army-knife approach to user interfaces: You need different tools to keep track of different kinds of files.”

While Apple has moved to many small, focused apps to get the job done, they have also attempted to build a new suite of interface components so that each app is easy to use right out of the box.

One such nifty widget they have invented is the rounded search box. Most of the iApps use it, and so does the Finder. It’s got a little “x” that clears the search text, and rounded edges so the search box is easy to find. (“Which of these text fields do I type to search? Oh yeah — the round one.”)

Splasm Software’s Checkbook is the first app I’ve seen to copy Apple’s search box. Unfortunately they didn’t get it quite right. (Psst: The “x” is supposed to be inside the box.)

Checkbook search box