Yesterday I had lunch with a 3 year old (as well as various other adults) and pulled out the trusty iPad to help with entertainment and distraction. This might make you cringe at the thought of a sticky, fidgety little munchkin defacing such a gorgeous piece of electronics, but I had my trusty rubberised (washable) case on the iPad which has proven invaluable in the past when contending with my unimpressive gracefulness.

What struck me, though, was the speed with which the three year old was able to figure out how to interact with the iPad. That in itself was astounding, but even more remarkable than that was the ease that the child had in using the various applications that were presented to him.

I had previously downloaded apps such as My First Words, Insects HD, Bubbles, and iFish Pond to inspire children of friends of mine, and they are simple but interactive apps that engage a child’s mind. The key elements that make these apps worth paying for are the simplicity of them, the obvious purpose of them from the moment they are opened, and the inability for the user to do anything wrong within the application.

In this age of small, simple component software rather than the complex, behemoth applications of the 90s, this ease of use is going to become the element that makes or breaks a software product’s future. The days of a software application needing to be everything to everyone are fading fast.

These days more non-technical people are using computers than ever before. It is virtually impossible to get through daily life without a computer. Yet most software applications and operating systems still expect users to understand non-intuitive technical concepts in order to achieve simple objectives.

I believe that the key to success for a software company is to make things simple and easy, avoid adding too may features and options, and simplify. Apple has gotten it right once again, and if we are up to the challenge, the rest of the world can embrace the concept and make technology fun for everyone.