Main image for What's in a Shape? Signal Strength, the Ubiquity of iPhones and Nomenclature Collide Time to Read: ~1 min

When I upgraded to iOS7, it was with little fanfare. Everything went fine with the upgrade, and the new aesthetic, while a big leap, took only a little getting used to. It was only after a car trip where we drove through some dead zones did I realize a far bigger impact than the flat design or dynamic backgrounds. Those bars ... were now circles!

Amy: Do we have any bars yet?

Me: Nope, not yet. Actually, probably never again.

Amy: Huh?

Me: Well, they're circles now.

It got me thinking about design, and how decisions we make (bars, dots or something else for signal strength) impact how people speak about the product. It is similar to (but not the same as) how we associate company names with the products they promote, and suddenly these become nouns and verbs in everyday speech: Google, Xerox, Hoover and Polaroid.

Change is hard, though. I'm so used to saying I'm going to "Google" something, it's difficult to change that verb to "Bing" or "Yahoo". But, I have no problem sticking with "looking something up on Wikipedia", either, as it's a more focused search. We don't think about Ricoh'ing something (photocopy?), or Dyson'ing the floor ('cause that happens a lot with kids in the house).

So maybe it's a dot, a four leaf clover, or an ace of spades in that upper left corner of the iPhone.

But it's still a bar to me.