Mobile Devices

November 12, 2013

Flipcase App Brings a Refreshing Approach to IPhone Accessories

When the iPhone 5C was released in U.S. Apple Stores in September, many business analysts were skeptical about the cheaper phone's appeal for consumers.

Many overlooked the whimsical plastic iPhone cases that were launched at the same time as the new iPhone models. The new 5C cases were designed to pop, with exact dots drilled through plastic, which created bright color combinations against the iPhone 5C body.

However, an app development company known as Bytesize was paying attention. Their game app, Flipcase, released on October 13, 2013, allows you to interface and play with your iPhone case -- an approach we rarely take toward our phone accessories.

Apple and iPhone accessories

This is not the first time Apple has released a decorative accessory for the iPhone. In 2010 they launched minimalistic rubber and plastic bumpers for the iPhone 4 models. Like the 5C cases, these bumpers came in a variety of eye-catching colors.

They were designed to be unobtrusive, and provided a modicum of protection by surrounding the iPhone's glass surfaces with a slight rim. If you dropped your iPhone or scraped it against a flat surface, the bumper would elevate the screen and backing just enough so that it wouldn't come into contact with the surface.

The 5C case takes an entirely different structural approach. There are two layers to the iPhone 5C case: a microfiber layer to protect the iPhone from scuffs and scratches and a silicone layer with circular perforations. The silicone case gives the iPhone 5C a grippy feel, which can prevent it from sliding across surfaces or out of your hands.

These cases come in six different colors and the holes allow you to display the actual color of your iPhone 5C. Since this iPhone model comes in five colors, there are 30 different case and iPhone combinations for consumers to choose from.

The Flipcase app

The iPhone 5C case was certainly not the highlight of the 5C iPhone release. However, the developers at Bytesize weere able to breathe intriguing new life into this slight silicone and microfiber accessory.

The app mimics the popular family classic board game Connect Four, which instructs players to arrange four same-colored dots into a row. However, you must remove your iPhone 5C case and lay it over the top of your screen. The dots are programmed to drop into place, matching the spots where the case perforations are.

While the app is extremely simple in its approach to entertainment, it gives users and app developers time to pause and speculate. What are some other ways we can use accessories creatively, outside of the functions for which they're intended?

How functional fixedness slows progress

In psychology, there is a concept known as "functional fixedness." This is our human tendency to look at an object, such as a tool, and always use it in traditional ways. This means you are more likely to apply a hammer to a nail, instead of using the hammer as a lever to lift a heavy object.

Functional fixedness informs how we behave during our interactions with objects, such as fitting an iPhone case around a device. However, this psychological tendency can limit our options during problem-solving and games. It should come as no surprise that those who can break out of functional fixedness with creative ideas are more likely to invent new products.

You might find innovative ways to approach auto repair, structural integrity, or app development by taking basic tools and approaching them with a fresh new perspective.

The developers at Bytesize have demonstrated how we can think outside the box when it comes to iPhone cases. They took an object made for decoration and protection, and flipped it into a gaming accessory. Business owners, hobbyists, and creative individuals can learn from these breaks out of functional fixedness.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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