links on the current apple user experience

While I was driving recently, I needed the passenger to make a phone call. I had looked up the number, all that was needed was for the call to be placed. I handed over the iPhone, and the question was “how do I call?”.

I was able to describe it easily enough, but the experience made me think it was time to share a few of these links on the weaknesses of Apple’s approach to design.

Here are a few pages I’ve read recently. This all pre-dates Snow Leopard, iTunes 9 and the new iPhone OS 3.1, and is more about the sense of how the face of mobile phone technology has changed since the launch of the iPhone. Have a look at each, and see what your thoughts are on the Apple interface.

  • Frustrations with iTunes
  • the iPhone is not easy to use
  • Before Apple introduced the iPhone
  • I found the second post the most insightful: here’s where the idea came from, according to the author:

    At the 2009 IA Summit, Karl Fast articulated the value proposition of user experience design with sparkling clarity. "Engineers make things," he said, "we make people love them." And then he held up an iPhone as an example.

    The kind of user interface design that people are starting to expect is not something that is trivially easy to use, but rather something that delights them. The post goes on to talk about the move from an intuitive design to something that is fun to explore – the approach is more one of game design than of traditional interface design.

    What are your thoughts on the iPhone (especially if you have one) – is it easy to use, or is it fun to use? And which is better?

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  1. I completely agree. When you first get the iPhone, you’re trying to work out how it all works and what’s going on, and there’s not a lot to guide you.

    I mean, I’d just started to get used to predictive text and typing with numbers, and then all of a sudden, I’m presented with this massive keyboard with tiny keys. If I make a typo, a correct word appears above it – but when I go to press that word to choose it – the word disappears. “Ohh, you have to press SPACE BAR to choose the word? Pressing the word itself says you DON’T want it?” They still haven’t solved the problem of what happens if I don’t want a space after the word, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

    Don’t get me started on cutting and pasting, but I understand that I’m actually lucky to have that feature at all.

    But agree with everything said about the fun of the whole device. Within a week, it was a permanent arm fixture and more and more of my life was being connected to the device in my pocket. I feel a bit sad for my ancient 40GB iPod – I know, buddy, we were talking about loading you up with the complete works of Beethoven – but he’s just not as much fun.

  2. I’d forgotten about the challenges of learning the predictive text! It’s worth pointing out that you can equally type a full-stop or a comma, or even hit “send” or “search” and it will auto-complete the word for you before the button-press is handled.

    Had you noticed that when filling in a web form, that the bottom right button on the keyboard will submit the form (so you don’t need to scroll around and find the actual button)?

    Or that (since iPhone OS 3.0) when you hold down your finger on the full-stop key, you can choose a full-stop or an ellipsis?

    There’s still lots to explore. Which is the fun, and the frustration of the device. Let me know if you work out a fool-proof way of putting it down: I haven’t been able to find one!

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