Here is a short account of our experiences with the iPhone after three weeks of use.
Joëlle – iPhone: 20 days
For: The all-in-one concept is unbelievably efficient. The integration of the range of tools and features (hands-free phone, e-mail, Web access, ipod, itunes, photos, camera, GPS, contact, calendar and the ability to quickly download widgets) is a pure pleasure to use! Navigation is simple, the “menu” button is a must, the sound and graphics are very high quality, altogether the system works great! Interactions in general are amazing.
Against: Simplicity has its compromises! Personally, I think there are too many essential features hidden in the second level; I don’t have the time to figure them all out. I’m guessing this might be typical behaviour for a woman focused on tasks rather than using my iPhone as a toy. And yes, it’s true… men and women do not behave the same in the face of technology. Maybe I’m just not the target audience. Fortunately, there is a Marcio (a playful man) in the next office, who certainly will explore and discover the potential of this small device so I can regularly ask: “Marcio, do you know how to do this…? “.
Here are some of the essential features that caused me minor frustrations because they weren’t present in the first level of the interface:
- The quick contact search placed at the top of the contact list is hidden when you descend down the list. I couldn’t find it after searching for a while. Once I realized that it was located at the top, I also realized I could jump quickly to the beginning of the list by pressing my finger on the right-side scroll bar.
- Adding a new name to the contact list: it takes three manipulations to add a contact, too many in my opinion.
- When reading mail, two icons do not seem explicit enough: a folder with an arrow at the bottom which leads to the main email menu and an arrow to the left to respond to a message (this iconography is to usually used to go back).
- The location of accented characters (when typing in French). Again, I had to look around for a long time before finding them. In order to do it, you’re supposed to maintain pressure for 1 or 2 seconds on the letter, and then select accented characters from a bubble which appears.
- It was not clear how to move around the large tool blocks on the home screen at first. You have to maintain pressure on one of the tools and as soon as the square starts trembling, then you can move them from one page to another.
- Another point of concern, the degree of dexterity and precision necessary to use the keyboard caused many errors which discouraged me several times to respond to an e-mail from the iPhone, attention to those with big fingers!
- In the same vein, too much precision is required to “catch” a key like the one used to quick-erase a message from the inbox. It’s always a bit random and the probability of hitting it twice in a row is low, I always end up in the wrong place; the email opens, requiring a round trip to return to the list.
- Also, the screen gets dirty quickly, and it must be cleaned often.
To conclude, I love my new gadget. Once you discover the functionalities, they seem so transparent and obvious “of course!”.
Marcio: iphone: 21 days
For: The integration of so many functions into one device is very well done. The multi-touch interface is efficient in its use of natural movements (drag, open fingers, close, etc.) and its ability to recreate the sensation of touching a button (for example, by expanding characters typed on the keyboard).
The fluidity of interaction is incredible, mainly due to the fact that interface transitions obey the same physical laws of the real world which our brains naturally predict. The acceleration and feedback of interface components are very natural actions corresponding directly to mental models we have all formed from observing the behaviour of objects in the real world. The “machine” aspect of the device is masked by a very sophisticated interaction design.
Against: The keyboard requires a little patience, but it is not impossible to use; it just takes a few days of practice. Keeping your iPhone in its anti-shock rubber sleeve makes it more difficult to use the keys located at the far left and right of the screen (this is a problem especially since the sleeve really is necessary).
The automatic correction of text is a major irritant. I write mainly in French and Portuguese and, regardless of the language chosen for the interface, the corrector still proceeds in English and there doesn’t seem to be any way to disable it! Writing a message is very long and frustrating. (In fact, I just found out how to change the automatic correction to a language other than English, but still no way to turn it off…). Someone help?
Another thing that doesn’t pertain directly to the interface, but still has an impact on the overall user experience, is the battery life. Even with very little use, the device requires a recharge at least once a day. Is this the price we pay for so many features?