What is common in modern platforms and devices - be it Windows 8, Apple iPhone/iPad and Android devices?
Very simple - Visual Appeal & Presentation.
All the latest devices such as Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Note are designed and marketed to the visual senses of end customers. All major platforms are researching and adopting design innovation in user interface/interaction.
Is this the next big thing?. Not really. The next big thing in user interface and interaction is claimed as invisible interfaces - meaning technologies will become embedded in real-word objects so that there is no specific or separate interface designed for it. Designing a separate interface to activate actions on the computing platform brings a separation in cognition and leaves an impression of operating on a secondary medium. Its not fully immersive!. So, We will soon be moving away from fantastic graphical user interfaces to invisible, natural user interfaces. But, I believe, even with the advent of immersive/natural user interfaces, graphical user interfaces will not go away completely.
With all your computing requirements can be addressed by cloud platforms, what do service providers do?.
If you have so much of computing power in edge devices - dual cores in mobile devices and tablets - what can you possibly do with such abundant compute power in the hands of end users?
When there is red ocean in the industry, and too many competitors, how do you stand out in the first place?. How do you make yourself deserve user attention, even for couple of minutes?
By designing visually appealing and useful services.
This decade belongs to visual design. Access any medium - be it newspaper, hoardings or main roads, websites - all are designed to appeal to your visual senses. The saying 'a picture worth 1000 words' is taken pretty seriously.
Have you observed the marketing campaigns of McDonalds and KFCs?. It is so flawlessly designed that you would feel the food is so good. That's the point. It may or may not taste good. But that's different. But, it looks stunningly good.
Going by its signature design, Windows 8 advises clients to invest in designing a good 'Tile'.
Going by the reality shows like American Idol, Indian Idol, one critic says 'Music is more seen than heard today'. Yes, everything is seen today - be it Music or Food - that are typically heard or tasted.
Why do you think Facebook acquired Instagram, a photo sharing site, for a billion dollar?
Why Pinterest, a visual intensive bookmarking and sharing site, gaining millions of visitors in couple of years of launch?
When I say 'Visual Design', its not the conventional, linear,navigational, user interface design. It is so web 1.0. The new Visual Design is all about Creative Design.
The new phenomenon is called as Visual Web.
Apu Gupta, CEO of a startup - Curalate - a marketing suite, says - "Images provide a visceral emotional reaction. Emotions drive discovery. Discovery drives clicks. Clicks drive revenue".
Hence, investing in good images/visuals is actually designing for reaping greater ROI in user's emotional reactions and eventually greater financial returns.
If you are designing any new application for large scale users in 2012 and in near future, this is one aspect that you cannot afford to ignore!.