Type To Launch Is The New Commandline

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote a piece called Type To Launch. Again. wherein I marvelled at the sudden surge in text-based interfaces, notably Enso. From the article:

Interfaces today, the operating system, the email client, the calendar, your contact list, your music player all have different interfaces. Because these are all, in a manner of speaking, separate entities, we have to interface with each application on their own terms. […] Enso tries to do what most operating systems and app suites have tried to and failed in doing for decades: uniting simple oft-used commands under a single, cross-app umbrella. Spellcheck, calculator, dictionary, web search and app launching, all bundled up in a sexy package. This universal commandline is clearly faster than launching and managing several different apps on your limited screen estate and it does beg the question: why haven’t these simplest of tasks been tackled properly before?

So perhaps, just maybe, such a universal commandline is the holy grail of operating systems, allowing you to manage app launching, calculations, conversions, copy and paste. How interesting it is then, that Google wants in on it. Google posseses a plethora of very different apps. They posses awesome search prowess, and their search box will handle simple conversions and calculations. Seems like a perfect fit?

It’ll be a real treat to see how Google handles the more advanced tasks; perhaps in the future, you’ll finally be able to red-eye correct your kids photos and proceed to add a calendar event for your next visit to grandmas, all directly in your email app. How many different apps would you use for that today? And could a simple commandline be the solution? Let’s play the waiting game.

6 thoughts on “Type To Launch Is The New Commandline”

  1. Jenny-fa says:

    Mac OS X already has something like that, albeit a bit more rudimentary than what you’re talking about in the last paragraph. A feature called Spotlight allows one to search for files on the hard drive, launch apps, look up words in the dictionary, and perform basic mathematical calculations. And all from the convenience of a toggle-able search bar tucked away in the upper right corner of the screen.

    Is it just me, or does the PC seem sooooo much less cooler than before?

    1. Joen says:

      Is it just me, or does the PC seem sooooo much less cooler than before?

      No, it’s just you ;D

      Seriously though, I know about Spotlight and indeed it goes some of the way, but certainly not all of it. What I’m guessing at is Spotlight on steroids, not necessarily the result of Googles involvment, but just as a natural next step in trying to unify all the various tasks we do on computers during the day.

      Take the calculator, for instance; I know many people who still use a real physical calculator despite the fact that even slow computers have millions of times the calculative power.

      I’m talking a redesign/evolution of Spotlight, where those who would use a physical calculator, would use Spotlight instead.

  2. Jenny-fa says:

    I think Spotlight already fits the bill pretty well. Although Apple should advertise and feature Spotlight more prominently to entice more users, the main impediment I see here is the unwillingness of people to change their habits. Like people with the calculator and people who still use IE6 even when governmental agencies warn against it. In short, we need to enlighten the old saps and show them the new way of Firefox and Spotlight. This isn’t as much as a design issue as it is a stubbornness/conditioning/resistance to change issue.

    Anyway, there are a bunch of Spotlight plugins that extend its functionality, though I am wary of anything gargantuan/Google-esque. The default Spotlight is enough. And I like compartmentalization, as hokey as it sounds.

  3. Please read The Humane Interface already.

    Where do you suppose Aza Raskin might have gotten the idea for Enso for?

    1. Joen says:

      I know, I know. It details this exact topic.

  4. Julian says:

    It’s funny that Quicksilver for Mac has not been mentioned here yet.

    Also, if you like the type to launch or simple commands try Ubiquity.

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