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iPhone Buzz - Love/hate relationships for usability

General

There is buzz all over the internet about the future of the new revolutionary iPhone. Some of that buzz caught the eye of professional interactive developers, Ryan Hefner & Joseph Schmitt, at Fantasy-Interactive in New York to discuss various usability snags present in the iPhone as part three of their “Usability Uckups” series.

The first point they bring up is about stealing focus (sometimes referred to as focus stealing). What is meant by focus stealing in the world of computer applications is that a program not in focus (ie. minimized in the background) places a window in the foreground and redirects all keyboard input to that window. An example of this is when a user is in  the middle of a phone call on the iPhone and the user receives a new text message, the “new message” window steals focus and won’t let you hang up your phone call until you have taped a button recognizing that there is a new alert message. This could be somewhat annoying if you receive a ton of messages while talking on the phone for extended periods of time. One snag when sending a message is that it takes a couple seconds to send a message and during these precious seconds you can see the message you are about to send. If you happen to have made a mistake in your message there is no way to quickly exit out of sending the message so that you can go back and fix it.

When a user is viewing a PDF in the iPhone’s mail program the ability to view that PDF horizontally is not present. This can be very annoying for a user reading a ten page document when the user is forced to shuffle across the screen with his/her fingers after every couple of words because the user had to zoom in so far that the type is legible. The main point that they bring up in regards to this is that their should be universal horizontal view switcher in all applications. They brought up how in mobile version of Safari it is very frustrating scrolling down an extensively long blog page for example. The solution they proposed is to use a two-finger (or even a three finger scroll) to enable scrolling at a faster rate down the page. Macbook pro’s utilize similar technology on the trackpad and if the Macbook can sense two fingers on the trackpad then the iPhone can most certainly as well!

Personally I think that it’s only a matter of time until these usability snags are solved and options are put in place for the user to avoid focus stealing while in a phone call. The iPhone is a new one of a kind product on the market and as the years progress so will the phone and so will its interface. The biggest question I have on the back of my mind is: do we really need to bring all this functionality with us where ever we go?

Other buzz:

www.iphonebuzz.com/ (someone beat us to it! there’s all ready a site dedicated to the topic!)

www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=41213 (the buzz can even affect the stock markets)

www.freetheiphone.org/ (don’t like AT&T?)

iPhone Predictions the Right and the Dead Wrong

www.westciv.com/iphonetests/ (Power full CSS3 Properties)

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/04/iphone_challeng.html

the list goes on...