CBARR
UI/UX design for digital products

WORDS

Bug List #1: Apple Edition

 

The idea of a ‘bug list’ came out of reading Tom & David Kelley’s Creative Confidence. They are duo behind Ideo and pioneers of human centered design (HCD). Inspired by their problem solving techniques I’ve been keeping a bug list of my own. What better way to start off than with a company who’s products I’m most familiar with and platform I design on nearly everyday. 

Apple products are sexy but sometimes they just don’t work the way I want them to—or expect. And every year they update iOS with hundreds of features, mostly good. While these feature updates are implemented either to solve consumer or business need, they sometimes create unintended user friction, add additional learning curve to the use, and sometimes I just don’t like the updates. 

The World Wide Developers Conference is just right around the corner as well. I believe interesting to see, if anything, of my bugs Apple has addressed in the latest OS. 

I’m not here to shame the designers at Apple and their great work, nor am I trying to call anyone out on their shit. Instead, the ‘bug list’ is just that. A bug: something to improve upon. I’m hoping this will be an ongoing look at products and how their problems could have better solutions.

Home Button

The glory of the home button. One simple button to rule them all. No extra controls to perform a task handled by the jewel of the iPhone.

Although, how many tasks does this button need to perform? It will unlock your phone, close an app, activate multi-tasking, reachability, Apple pay, Siri access, access access ability controls, and give to your music app controls. And that’s precisely the problem with it. It’s starting to do too much and remembering how they all work from time to time.

Outside of the top three — unlock, multitasking, and app close — I cannot tell how many times I encounter issues. Seriously! Have you ever struggled to get Apple pay open? Better yet Apple pay opens when you don’t want it too. Or skip all that and blow right through to your home screen and then good luck finding Apple pay then. 

Reachability, I turned that off. A nice feature for larger phones but the activation sensitivity drove me mad. Work or don’t work. Choose one. Also, explain this functionality to someone. “It’s a double touch not a double click.”

They get that right?

The same things can be said for much of these extra features. They usually appear when you don’t want them or they misbehave when they don’t.

Lock Screen

A well-intentioned solution to a problem on this one has created needless friction on my part. No longer am I blowing past the lock screen to see notifications. A part of me now misses the swipe to unlock which features the emergency call button. Sure it’ll take a few minutes longer to send off an emergency call, you could argue non-life threating.

My bigger issue is the tapping you need to do to get to that screen. When iPhone is throwing a tantrum I can’t just swipe to the unlock screen. Purposeful finger jamming is required. There are also instances where I know it’s not going to work like when I’m cooking and my fingers are damp.

Apple Pay

This one I actually noticed while at lunch with some friends who are not product designers and are the everyday consumer of the iPhone. One my friends asked how one of her cards got loaded into Apple pay. Even more confusing she didn’t know how she kept getting the Apple pay feature to show. (see home button)

I know how these features worked, no one else did. That’s reason enough to give pause. Remembering my own experience I also had issues with that. I took the time to look it up, even though high profit features like Apple pay should be explicitly clear, not everyone does.  

To recap, when customers say ‘How’d that card get here?’ or ‘How do I access it?’ it’s time for better on boarding, marketing, and feature awareness.

iCloud

Ahh, what a rabbit hole of magic. I’m just honestly baffled by iCloud. I understand it purpose but in workings not.

It’s become this thing that Apple sells and is just suppose to be magic. A way pushing you further inside their walled gardens. I know stuff goes into the cloud, it’s accessible, but there’s no on boarding for it. No management tools. You are forced into expanding storage, because you’re phone will run out, or constantly do a computer backup.

I find iCloud to be all too closed. There’s a bit of unknown how-it-works and doesn’t provide all the work features I’ve come to expect from a cloud service like Dropbox or Google drive. Instead, I pay for a little extra each month to keep my iPhone from filling up — bummer.

Apple News Widget

Sadly a poor algorithm for showing me new. I love reading from the app but it’s constantly showing me news that I do not care about. It’s all TRUMP! What about showing me some trending articles from my other categories.

I don’t know how this bubble gets created or why my news mix is so heavily favored towards politics. Even in the feed It’s top loaded with this stuff. Some controls to pick an effective mix for me would enhance the app and widget.

3D Touch and Keyboard Selection

I see lots of potential in this feature but the awkward moments a full. I appreciate that Apple has boxed the feature into specific features and it’s essentially a contextual modal. However, the keyboard feature is hard to work.

In case you didn’t know, force touching the keyboard will allow you move the text cursor to a different area of text. 

Using the feature to quickly jump back a few words or to the beginning is nice. It gets hairy when pressing deeper, I assume, selects whole words. I haven’t figured out the right amount of pressure and then sometimes text gets selected starting a chain of taps to deselect the text. 

This feature also works inconsistently across apps. I could be in Instagram and no matter how hard I press text will not select. Whatever the feature is make it work consistently please. 

iMessage Features

I just hate it when I feel like I’m not in control. And the new dynamic drawing feature just fires messages off right away. The first time I used this little diddy I must have sent out twenty messages without realizing it. Then my girlfriend I was messaging started firing a bunch off to me in the same manner. What a shit-show that was.

There's a way around automatically sending these messages but it wasn't immediately clear as it wasn't immediately clear that my message would just send off after tapping the screen. Because you don't know how the feature works you probably tap around to figure it out — cave man with a stick style — which leads to some unfortunate consequences.

There are other features that I love about iMessage. Stickers and hand drawn messages. The little details of the ink animation is superb. I just have to stumble upon them to know how they work. Like sending messages with effects. I had to show many of my iPhone friends how to use these features. Possibly some better marketing or a tutorial would help with this. 

Apple does have a Tips app to promote these features. I'm dubious of how many people actually care to use it. It's also their way of keeping their single-purpose apps clean and clear. Besides that hidden features and complex hidden UI just are becoming part of the norm. I.E. audiences hip to Snapchat. Seriously that's a maze of menus and features that confuses me every time I open it up.

With WWDC 2017 coming up around the corner I'm very interested to see how these features might improve, expand, or added upon. With great UI comes great responsibility.