iPhone: Poor usability vs. coolness?

October 26, 2009

According to multiple online and offline user reviews, iPhone seems to be almost perfect from the usability standpoint. I’ve been using it for a little while, and have to mention that it’s really hard to find some usability imperfections in it.

It’s pretty obvious that Apple engineers had to sacrifice a part of iPhone’s usability to its coolness and performance. The iPhone has a couple of minor to moderate disadvantages, but most of the users are pretty happy with their device.

The first and the biggest usability challenge is definitely a touch-screen keyboard that has tiny buttons and covers a significant portion of a screen. The problem of tiny buttons is not new and almost all the phones I’ve used have it. It’s pretty much impossible to create a large enough keyboard that could be used without any constraints without the increasing a device size.

iPhone’s 3.5-in., 480-by-320 resolution display screen is large enough to browse the web using a regular browser and read for a while without your eyes getting tired. However, when you need a keyboard, a half of the screen is getting effectively covered with it, and another half might not be large enough even to see entire login form without scrolling. The horizontal keyboard definitely works better than the vertical one, but it’s available only in Safari.

Five-hour battery life in a combination with non-replaceable battery is definitely the another poor usability factor. A huge back lit screen that has to be constantly on in order to actually use the device as well as browsing the web on 3G speeds literally drains the battery. Unfortunately, 5 hours is not always enough to carry a “heavy” user through the entire day, so you have to either rely on your laptop to do some of the tasks you could have used your iPhone for, or fight the fear that you won’t be next to a charging receptacle outlet when you would really need it.

Camera. A built-in fixed-focus 2.0 megapixel camera is relatively good for a cell phone camera, especially in the combination with a number of additional applications that enhance camera performance. The only disadvantage of the camera is its location: located on the back of the phone, it doesn’t make it easy to use it for video conferencing (think about Skype application) which is pretty unacceptable for such kind of an interactive device.

Ability to run only one application at a time: in our world where almost everybody is used to multitasking, such kind of a limitation has a very big impact on the usability. Users can’t switch between different apps and therefore copy and pasting doesn’t really work. Try including several links from your browser into a single email… Pretty tough, isn’t it?

Flash and Java browser’s restrictions don’t make too much of a difference at a first glance, – a lot of flash websites worth looking at have HTML version anyways; however, with the spreading use of flash technologies in building more interactive interfaces, it becomes more and more of a usability limitation.




4 Responses to “iPhone: Poor usability vs. coolness?”

  1. krillo Says:

    Good post, Ivan, good points!(but I still love my iphone! It’s just fun, fulfills my kinesthetic sense!) I just wish the camera took better pictures. The lack of multiple apps running is a great point (I don’t like the cut/paste usability works well either).

  2. ivsyd Says:

    Don’t get me wrong: I love my iPhone too.
    I believe that multiple voices of people like me will be heard and will help to make future products better.

  3. […] here to see the original: iPhone: Poor usability vs. coolness? October 26th, 2009 | Tags: and-offline, are-pretty, device, happy-with, little-while, media, […]

  4. miumiu Says:

    な 財布一致に様々 な季節。今でも として多くミュウミュウで不安、私はと仮定これは相で、右方法。我々 の袋がある、コピーミュウミュウの分割巨大。

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