Tool: A handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task; something such as an instrument or apparatus used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession; an element of a computer program that activates and controls a particular function; a means to an end; one that is used or manipulated by another.
Americans use the term tool in many different situations. A tool is practical, pragmatic, singular, specialized. They are always at hand, simple, easy to use, precise. A tool does exactly what the user wants it to. They are not only physical and mechanical, like a hammer, screwdriver, a wrench.
Tools can assist with sophisticated tasks, including those purely mental, such as software, financial analytical tools. Intelligent tools are only as intelligent as the people who created and those using them.
Programmable appliances: Appliances like microwaves and coffee makers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with added features such as programmable start/stop functions and alarms. Modern appliances are much easier to use and program than previous generations. They are frequently redesigned to be more user friendly. This is a response to consumers’ demands for products which do much of the thinking for them.
Easy to use: Intelligent products can be used by not so intelligent people. Most modern products – including household appliances, automobiles, computers & software, tablets, smartphones, electronics in general – employ large, simple displays with large buttons and easy to follow protocols.
They are designed to be simple and to avoid overwhelming users with low-value, distracting features. Although more advanced features are often possible, they do not crowd out the simplicity of the product. All possible measures are taken to make the product as easy to use as possible.
It is up to the customer to decide the level of sophistication they seek in a product. The most basic models are always available for beginners, while many companies offer far more advanced models of appliances or electronics for more knowledgeable users. For example, there are various levels of stereos and TVs for consumers who want different features and levels of sophistication.
iPhone OS as a tool: One example of a simplistic, intelligent tool is the operating system of Apple products like the iPhone and iPod. Apple favors an elegant, easy to use design over more complex designs. Most people can quickly figure out how to use an Apple product by simply using their fingers and following on-screen prompts.
Options are limited and presented in a layered, decision tree fashion. Many other electronic and appliance products have begun to employ similarly simplistic and user friendly designs.