Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Dangerous vicinity

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iPhone software is difficult. The device is fiddly, human hands are huge and clumsy, and they’re the way people interact with the device. As a consequence a lot of the user interface design on the platform has to walk the thin line between the convenience of keeping things close together and the safety of separating them.

One such point – which apparently has been changed on the more spacious iPad – is the positioning of the default ‘OK’ button on the virtual keyboard. It is quite close to all the other keys and easily hit by accident when you made a typo and want to hit the backspace key right above it.

This may seem trivial when the button creates a new line in a text editor, but it becomes a small nuisance when you’re in the Google field of your web browser and inadvertently trigger the Google search this way, forcing you through extra waits and taps as a consequence. And sometimes it becomes a mis-design which can cost you money and make you look like an idiot. For example in Skype for iPhone, which includes an otherwise nice SMS service that places the ‘Send’ button in this dangerous position:

Skype on the iPod with the Send button right next to the delete and backspace buttons on the keyboard.

Other applications, like Apple’s SMS application or Twitterific put the ‘Send’ button to a separate location. At least for the SMS application this looks like a deliberate design choice, for Twitterrific it could still be owed to the fact that ‘tweets’ may contain line breaks, hence require the Return key on the keyboard.

Twitterific message entry screen with the Send button separate from the keyboard.

April 8, 2010, 19:56

Tagged as iphone, keyboard, skype, twitterific.


Comment by Dave2: User icon

I have similar quirks that bug me… the worst culprit right now being buttons that get pressed WHEN YOU ARE NOWHERE NEAR THEM! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in Tweetie and tapped above the app bar to scroll all the tweets up… only to have the “compose tweet” screen show up instead (even though I’m not in the vicinity of the actual button). It’s highly frustrating.

April 8, 2010, 23:41

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