I am a bit sour on using touch for Phone operations

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by dangleheart, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. dangleheart macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    It is hard for me to say this since I love the iPhone touch interface in general, but I am leaning towards a conclusion that Apple had made the phone operations a bit more complicated that it should be.

    1) Holding the phone with the left hand and dialing with touch with that hand introduces quite a few errors for me.

    2) It is hard to dial without constantly focussing the attention on the screen. With button based key pads, my fingers are trained to move with only partial attention paid to the keypad.

    3) Answering the phone with the slide is quite difficult for me to do with one hand. It takes a few tries to slide it all the way.

    4) To make a phone call, there are just way too many steps depending on what I have done before. e.g If I was in some non-phone function before, here is what I have to do: a) press the home to light up the screen b) slide to unlock c) press home again to get to the menu screen d) press phone e) press the key pad button

    5) This may just be me. With the key pad, after dialing the digits, I pressed Call. But I slide over the set of buttons just below the call like "recents" and it goes to that screen. When this happened first, I thought it is making the phone call. When it did not happen, not knowing what is going on, I hit the menu button and then the phone button it still got me back to the "recents" screen. It was all very confusing. I figured out what was going on for sure in a few seconds. I had to touch the keypad again and then touch "Call".

    6) The above thing happens 10% of the time for me which seems to be a high ratio of mis-touch/fat finger. I think it can use some smarts there in terms of lesser sensitivity to touch of those bottom buttons as opposed to the Call button when it knows I am in the process of making a phone call.

    7) The above situation happened to someone who is not familiar with the iPhone and they did not know what was going on/how to make the darn call. Making phone calls should not be this tough. This darn thing is supposed to be idiot-proof, more than ordinary cell phones.

    8) While in contacts, when you touch a person's name I would intuitively expect it to make the phone call for contacts that had only one phone number. Instead, it put me on another screen. It was not clear what to do at that point to make the call. Of course, a few seconds later I figured out I had to touch the phone number again to make the phone call.

    Some of these are minor annoyances but when put together, it gives the impression that the phone operations seems to be quite invovled than an ordinary non-smart phone. It is still much better than other smart phones where the plethora of buttons and icons is awful and intimidating but for just phone operations Apple can iron out some of these from a UI point of view.
  2. Canuck4 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 31, 2007
    It takes a little time getting used to everything like all touches and actions.
    After a while you dont even think about it, you just do it right away.
  3. boss1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2007
    I think the home button should answer an incoming call.

    There should be an option in the settings menu to make it so hitting the HOME button does this. :rolleyes:
  4. snook911 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2007
    Yorba Linda, CA

    Personally I like the fact that it takes alot of steps to do things. The more I can use the awesone touch interface the better for me !!:apple::D:apple:
  5. dangleheart thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    I will go with that. I do not like this sliding to unlock as a way to answer the phone. It is not intuitive at all.
  6. Bosunsfate macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2006
    Silicon Valley, CA
    It really seems like you are using the keypad alot. I use the phone features pretty heavily, but almost never need to make a keypad phone call. This becuase most are made with favorites, contacts, and the Google Maps interface.

    You let someone actually use your phone? :D

    That would drive me nuts. How would I be able to view or edit the contact then? If you want the one touch contact phone call you should make them a Favorite.

    Overall I think your feedback is good as I think it shows you how much thought and design you need to put into a user interface.
  7. dangleheart thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    To be fair, on the thoughtfulness Apple has exhibited...

    1) If while holding the phone to your ear the screen goes blank and then if you move it away from the ear and turn it so it faces you, the screen is automatically lit. I have been playing with it to see if it does this all the time or not. If I am on the speakerphone it does not do that. So there is some context dependent intelligence built in. Small things but I appreciate the thought that went into making it easy to use and intuitive.

    2) While on the phone if you go to some other function, at the top, it shows the number dialed and the time of the call in green. You can touch there and you can directly go to the phone screen. Nice touch ( pun intended :) )

    3) Same thing with iPod. If the screen is locked when the iPod is playing, it still displays the song name on top of the locked screen. Nice.
  8. d21mike macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2007
    Torrance, CA
    In the Favorites you have an Edit buttom because it is one touch dialing. I think this should be the way it works in Contacts when there is only 1 phone number for a Contact.

    I very seldom have to Edit my Contacts.
  9. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Then there would be no way to look at a contacts information, right?

    For example, if I asked you for Joe's phone number, and Joe's in your iPhone and only has one phone number, as soon as you touch his name, it'd dial him. You wouldn't be able to see any of his other contact information. Hopefully you knew Joe's phone number and could just tell it to me. :D
  10. KittyToy macrumors 6502


    Sep 6, 2007

    I think people are just lazy, when i just got my iphone i made a call to order chinese and that didn't take up much time, no longer than it took me to use my Razor, you people complain to much, I got fat fingers and never had a problem using any of the buttons on the phone, not to mention I can do everything with one had...go figure im a girl and I can do it so why can't you!
  11. matticus008 macrumors 68040


    Jan 16, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    If you regularly make calls with the keypad, you're fairly unusual. If you actually dial the phone without looking to make sure you entered the correct number, you're even more unusual still.
    4) To make a phone call, there are just way too many steps depending on what I have done before.[/quote]
    As opposed to an ordinary phone, where you'd a) have to flip it open (or push to wake), b) unlock the keypad, c) press the home key to exit the non-home function (a menu or game), and d) dial the number.

    The iPhone is one extra fraction-of-a-second step (or two, if you don't lock your keys--it'd be nice if iPhone had an option where you didn't have to slide to unlock if you had previously turned the display off with the sleep button).

    Alternatively, maybe you'd just like an option to put a "Keypad" shortcut on the home screen. That's probably doable--maybe the hackers have already done it.
    If you touch the screen, expect it to respond accordingly. It doesn't "know" you're trying to make a call. There's no way for it to know what you're thinking. This is simple common sense with a touch screen. Don't touch it if you don't want it to respond as though you did. Tap the buttons you want, don't slide around the surface.
    Add everyone to your "Favorites" and this is what will happen. The normal Contacts list isn't a dialer--it's an address book. The "Favorites" screen is designed precisely for this speed-dial operation.
    There is by definition more complexity added when functions are added. A cell phone is substantially more complicated than a landline handset, but simultaneously easier to use, since it is better equipped to handle the wide variety of options.

    Ever try setting up an address book on a corded handset? It's a nightmare. Even the most poorly designed cell phones are better. When you have multiple functions, switching between them has to become a reality of use. There's no way around it.

    There are some deficiencies, to be sure (Mail.app is worthless, there are many options lacking, etc.), but 'overcomplication' is certainly not among them. If anything, operating the iPhone is oversimplified.
  12. dangleheart thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    I agree with you on the first point but not on the second. With a hard button, you need less attention of the eyes on the keypad. It is hard to describe but hope you can relate to what I am saying. Touch screen requires a bit more focus on the virtual keypad and the display above to make sure you entered the right number.

    Actually there is a way. Brilliant one if I may say so myself ;-) It knows I have got my keypad open and I have dialed some numbers. It can make those bottom soft buttons a little less sensitive to touch. Especially the ones that 'touch' the Call button and more significantly the 'Contacts' button which is right beneath the Call button. Currently I think the sensitivity is uniform ( I may be wrong ). I know how to dial and hit the Call button. I am reporting my actual experience. My intention is to tap the Call button but still on a few occasions the other screens pop up. It is mostly that Contacts button. The Call and Contacts butt against each other and if I happen to half touch either button, there is a chance it will pick up Contacts which is quite annoying.

    Well, contacts is a dialer since you can dial from there. My issue is, Recents and Favorites work one way and Contacts work another way. I am now sufficiently confused that at times when I wanted to edit my contacts I actually end up calling the number. The problem is, in other places, you touch something to do some operations and in other places you have to explicitly touch 'Edit' to make some changes. I would like uniform icons or 'arrows' or whatever that tells me that if I touch there I am going to 'modify' it rather than 'use' it. The key UI principle is 'Users should build a mental model of the UI and a basic requirement for such mental model building is consistency of the method of data edits, operations invocation and feedback ( properties, methods and events, in geekspeak )'. iPhone is top class at implementing this fundamental principle but there is scope for improvement.

    Having said that I like the favorites for one reason. If a contact has multiple phones, you can add one of them in the favorites.
  13. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Yes, it does. Thankfully Apple made the buttons on the virtual keyboard a decent size. The buttons on the virtual keyboard of the last three Windows Mobile phones I used were smaller than the fingertip I used to press them, and my hands aren't THAT huge! Imagine having to pay attention and always have to be deleting and rekeying!!! :eek:

    Contacts is way more than a dialer.

    For example, if you click on a contact and touch their address, it'll open in Google Maps. If the contact has a URL in the URL field (say, a home page for a business), clicking on the URL opens it in Safari.

    If you implement your "when you click a contact, it should simply dial them" idea, none of that would work.

    The way I would handle it would be to make Contacts a separate application. Remove it from the Phone application and put it on the main screen, like it is with the iPod touch. In its place, put something called "Phone List" (or whatever) back into the Phone application that make it act like how you're describing. Click a person with one phone number and it dials them directly. Click a person with multiple phone numbers and you get a choice.
  14. dangleheart thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    I will go with that aristobrat. Nice compromise. I also agree contacts is way more than a dialer and it deserves its own space along with other applications. It is not restricted to phone calls why put it with just phones. Nice one. The current Contacts is really a PIM - personal information manager.
  15. matticus008 macrumors 68040


    Jan 16, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    I'm afraid I can't. The typical smartphone (or even basic cell) has far more keys than a number pad alone and is no less error prone than a screen. This is largely a familiarity issue--once you get a feel for the spacing of keys on soft dialers, you'll no longer need that level of attention. I've been using devices like these since 2003 and they're no slower or more distracting than devices loaded up with buttons. I have further never observed anyone dial a cell phone without looking, anyway. A landline handset, sure, but never a cell phone.
    Selective desensitizing isn't really an option, and even if it were, it's not a good idea. There is no way for software to distinguish between an errant key press and an intentional one in such a limited context. What if you wanted to switch to the Contacts list? You shouldn't have to pound the button to compensate for its desensitized state. The device does exactly what it's told, and that's how it should be anywhere there is a chance that its guess would be wrong.

    As is, the call button is massive. It's larger than the arrow keys on an Apple notebook. If you're having trouble hitting the intended buttons, you're not using the tip of your finger. The iPhone does almost all of the work for you despite a radically different approach to interaction. Making a few adjustments is inevitable.

    The normal "thumbs resting on the surface" approach to cell phones does not work with the iPhone. It can't, and it shouldn't. To do so would introduce too much variability and too much guesswork on the part of a limited processor.
    They all work the same way. Contacts just provides you with more information--recents and favorites are only for voice calls, so you don't need to access email or SMS or web information. Contacts is a central address book for all of that information, so if you want to place a call, you have that extra step. It is also visually distinguished from the others with a more comprehensive UI, which should be more than sufficient to avoid confusion.

    I think the compromise suggested is a good one, but as it stands, it works like every other smartphone. What's lacking is a "green phone" shortcut button. I think an alternate approach would be to add a "Call" button on the right of each line in the Contacts list. Touching the contact would bring up the classic address book entry, and the call button would dial directly, saving a step.
  16. Sobe macrumors 68000


    Jul 6, 2007
    Wash DC suburbs

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