Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lost in phone, or another opportunity for iOS 7

Let me confess, I have been using Apple iPhone since 2008.
Back in 2010, my phone was stolen. A month later, we were moving to Australia and I did not buy a new one.

I have been using a Nokia phone for a year, it was a Symbian one.
Interestingly, I did not miss the iPhone. I was on the lookout for something new, something better.
It happened to be an hp pre3 powered by [ex Palm's] webOS operating system. But that's another story.

I tried to understand why I did not miss the iPhone, after all, I was a Mac user since 2001.
And I think I can explain why, at least to myself.

There are things in iPhone experience that simply make you bored.
The same old grid of same old icons, mostly static. Onerous App Switching functionality.

But now I also see things that actually enrage me, even if they used to do it subconsciously.

Let us talk about one.

Phones are many things to us now, but for me, they still must serve well as PHONES.

It seems that iPhone fell short on this, even compared to my first smartphone that I bought in 2004, the absolute flagman of the years and everything before the iPhone - Sony Ericsson P910i.

Consider unlocking your iPhone, you will see Phone and Contacts icons.
Inside the Phone icon, you will see Contacts tab.
Along the Phone app tabs, you will see "Favorites", "Recents", "Contacts".
As well as "Contacts" outside of the phone app, on the dock.
"Recents" tab is split in "All" and "Missed" categories.
Can you still follow me? :)

Guess what? THERE IS NO PEOPLE PHOTOS, NO USERPICS not in any of these multiple tabs. Huh?
All four tabs I have listed, have no people faces on them. Not even in Favorites!
To see a picture, you need to drill down to a particular contact! This is in 2013.

Many times we are trying to catch up with people on the go, while walking, some [unwise folks] even when driving.
No pictures does not help at all!
What is even worse, is getting stuck in "Recents"-"Missed" and trying to dial a number who you just talked to and said "I'll call you in a minute".

This is because Phone app remembers where you were last time, making navigation to where you want to be this time a process that takes more brain cells to coordinate their work, distracting from other things you're trying to do (unless you're sitting on a sofa playing the phone).

I took out my old SonyEricsson and checked the Phone application.

Always takes you to Favorites that have faces on them. Two-touch calls to Favorites are possible from wherever I am.


On the iPhone, if your favorite people are calling you then your Recents will look much like Favorites, but sometimes sans the guy you want to talk to now. Same-looking text in both tabs, no pictures. Frustration. No wonder they need Siri to help.

Finding yourself switching to less-often used tabs like Dialpad is OK.
Having to switch out of that rarely used functionality is not.

Another source of confusion is the double Contacts functionality.
Since there are two of the Contacts tab, and each remembers its own position, you will have to re-find (find again) the user that you have focused on, should you go to the "wrong" Contacts tab.

It took me some time to realize that in order to send an email, I have to touch the actual email address instead of reading all the button labels below in vain search for "Email" button, then trying to figure out whether "Send Message" button meant "email message".

There's simply not enough visual cues. Have a look at how it was done in the SonyEricsson.

One more thing about my ancient but greatly usable phone.
It seems to be the only 3rd party phone that Apple has written software for.


No kidding, Apple programmed for Symbian UIQ 2.1. Steve must have cared enough.
Here's a proof.

The iSync agent worked hand-in-hand with iSync Apple app for MacOS, making sure that bluetooth synchronization of Calendar, Contacts and such was impeccable. And it was, unlike my Nokia PC Suite experience.





Overall, with a couple of tweaks I hope that Apple will resolve these issues in upcoming iOS 7 - they just need more of that "attention to detail".
But maybe not - it does not seem to be about phone calls anymore...at least, this is not Apple's business.
Or is it?

2 comments:

Mark Miller said...

It seems Apple wrote only iSync plugin for Symbian, not a Symbian OS.
If Contacts app is confusing - move from the home screen, hide it in a group with some other apps you don't use frequently.
Finally, have your hands on new 5s - all your concerns have been addressed, plus they added biometrical access for a technology geek like you - no need to type a passcode.

Mark Miller said...

It seems Apple wrote only iSync plugin for Symbian, not a Symbian OS.
If Contacts app is confusing - move from the home screen, hide it in a group with some other apps you don't use frequently.
Finally, have your hands on new 5s - all your concerns have been addressed there, plus Apple added biometrical access for a technology geek like you - no need to type a passcode.
Yet, probably you don't need an iPhone, the amount of precision and hardware features makes this device an instrument you can use in astrophysics, and still you can do the talking