UX Confessions of an iPhone and Mac paranoid fanatic

In the Mac and iPhone community recently there was much a debate whether we (iPhone users) are delusional liars and paranoids - according to a report by a consulting firm from Denmark. Well, let me address these allegations and admit... that I might be a little paranoid... and I'm pretty happy with that:

Iphone-features

iPhone lacks features and iPhone users are defending it

It's a fact that iPhone lacked lots of features when it launched (just look at the chart above to compare first iPhone 2G with Nokia N95 at the time of iPhone launched) - let me address the most important issues with the first iPhone and why I think these were really wins by Apple:

No 3G - big deal. But Internet is REALLY built in.

Other phones had 3G, so what? You still couldn't use the Internet in a convenient way. These had some strange WAP or other crappy browser. With iPhone you could really touch the Internet - browse web sites and use it perfectly. What's more lots of web-apps (with Javascript and AJAX, including iNozbe) popped up so you could use the Internet in a totally different way. Fantastic.

Apple cannot multitask, can you?

The idea of iPhone not multitasking (although you can call people and run apps in the meantime) is a really good decision - you open app, you close it, you know where you are, you don't have to open "Task manager" to kill some apps that drain your battery (Windows, anyone?) Face it - to be productive we really cannot multitask anyway, right?

Apple controls the Appstore... really? Did we have Appstore before?

iPhone introduced the Appstore - first time in history my mum has a an iPhone (smartphone) and she installs apps by herself. I mean really - this is breakthrough - my mum is installing apps on the phone! Before the iPhone there were some Java apps you could install on some phones if you were a geek. Apple made it so simple and we blamed them for it.

No physical keyboard - but a virtual one that works like a bliss instead.

Especially when iPhone 3.0 software update introduced the horizontal keyboard across almost all the apps now, writing emails and SMS messages is really fun and fast! Why would I want a physical keyboard that can break down, with really tiny buttons? The virtual keyboard is a lot bigger and better.

Changing the industry with User experience not features.

To all the startup owners, founders, entrepreneurs - just look at the iPhone's success - it's not about the features, Nokie with more features lost it. It's about the User Experience. Apple decided to reinvent the user experience of the mobile phone. They made us love our phones again and made people use a lot more of their phones capabilities (did I mention my mum uses iPhone to check Email?)

Do you like your current mobile phone? Are you iPhone paranoid? Which features you'd like iPhone to have?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2009 (apple,iphone,mac,ux)

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TMioduszewski
Dec 18, 2009 08:24
To add some news to your post: recent pools shows that in the US market, iPhone have more active users than Windows Mobile. So, all about it's not a lot of features that makes the "thing" - it's usability of those features that are included.

Well... it's high time for me to get an iPhone ;-)

Michael Sliwinski
Dec 18, 2009 09:25
Apple iPhone smashed Windows Mobile in the US? Exactly my point - WM has features, iPhone OS has user experience that makes my mum use the iPhone in a way I never thought she's use a mobile phone before.

Back in the 80s Apple introduced people to computing with a very straightforward computer that people could use at home.

Now it seems like Apple introduced people to mobile "computing" when my mum is checking email and installing apps on her iPhone. UX (User Experience) baby!

maciek saganowski
Dec 19, 2009 01:25
Mate I'm so with you on this. Especially about apple store. Seriously, these guys practically invented micro-apps, came up with their own distribution model and folks slag them off for being fashionable and different. Not that that the AS is perfect. Still, I reckon Apple is lightyears ahead of other phone manufacturers who follow the features game. To me, the best illustration of Apple's success is the fact that they make more revenue on their 2 iphone models then the entire Nokia with their gazzilion and one models.
Michael Sliwinski
Dec 21, 2009 00:08
This is another thing - Apple has 2 iPhone models 3G and 3GS and Nokia has gazillions of models no one knows... and it's Apple who's more profitable.

I'm astonished right now that BMW and Audi are starting to produce different models and are ditching simplicity and clarity of their offering and going for the quantity... but it's a material for another post.

Grzegorz Łobiński
Dec 21, 2009 21:24
"is a really good decision - you open app, you close it, you know where you are, [...] Face it - to be productive we really cannot multitask anyway, right?"
One thing is the Apple's decision about the lack of multitasking on iphone, agreed! that was a good decision because of limited assets, other thing is to be productive, agreed! concentration is the king, but the last thing is a question: How many applications do you have usually open on your notebook/desktop? Can you imagine that we use computers which are not multi-tasked? The same in the near future will be with all devices also with iPhone :)
Michael Sliwinski
Dec 22, 2009 08:37
The more windows on your computer open, the more distractions show up and the less productive you become... but it's something I should address in future posts.

As the number of apps increases (in the Appstore 100K+, on our iPhones 3+ screens) I think Apple will address this problem in some elegant way. I'm not saying multitasking will not be present there at all... and you can talk on the phone and open apps actually...

However I still think the beauty of this device is that you don't see all that much on the screen and swipe around to access more info... it's a joy to use... even for people with worsening eye-sight and with thick fingers... and this is where Apple nailed it :-)

bjorn
Dec 23, 2009 00:45
I thought it was OK with no multitasking until I realized I got Spotify. Now, if I listen to music and I get an SMS I need to stop the music, close Spotify and enter the "sms reading app" to be able to read & respond to the message. Also, it's a bit of a drag not being able to listen to music and read articles stored on my Instapaper at the same time.

I thought I never would get another phone than the iPhone .. but with the androids poping up everywhere and Nokia's plans for the Ovi Store I'm starting to realize maybe I am :-)

Michael Sliwinski
Dec 23, 2009 07:50
I'm not saying iPhone is perfect, but for me to switch to Android or Nokia would mean they'd have to have really great UX user experience and none does at this point.

I totally agree with you regarding Spotify - it's kinda not fair that the iPod app can play in the background and Spotify (and other music apps for that matter) can't, so I guess Apple will have to solve this in one way or the other (iPhone OS 4.0?)

Lola LB
Dec 23, 2009 11:41
When we switched over to Verizon, we went with Blackberry 8830. We couldn't wait for the iPhone to come out; we needed to replace hubby's dying Sidekick. I would talk once in a while about the iPhone and the interesting new feature I'd just learned about and he just smiled. Fast forward a couple years later and hubby's work gave him an iPhone (so he could be in touch 24/7). The difference between the iPhone and Blackberry is like the sun and the moon. the iPhone is sooooo much more easy to use and it feels very natural.

I've tried the BB Storm and I'm sorry to say that even with version 2, it's still a yucky experience. We're hoping that Verizon will carrying the iPhone next year - I keep hearing rumors about that. Hubby's phone is starting to fail and it looks like 2010 will be the year we'll need to replace both of our personal phone, and it will definitely be the iPhone. Meanwhile, I have an iTouch especially since I need to use productivity tools and there are tons more of these for the iPhone than for BB.

Michael Sliwinski
Dec 23, 2009 13:53
Exactly my experience - the feel and usability of the device are so much more important than its features and iPhone nails it so much. I think the manufacturers of devices like Blackberry or Nokia still need a lot to learn WHAT makes the iPhone so cool. They are still playing too much of a "features game" without understanding the user experience. The same happens in the mac world - I love my mac because of UX.

Lola, thanks for your great comment and good luck switching your BBs into iPhones :-)

emuelle1
Dec 23, 2009 14:01
I used Windows Mobile for years. I finally got fed up with it and switched to the iPhone. I wouldn't want to go back.

I agree; other phone manufacturers seem to think "bling" will bring people in. I like the iPhone because I can use it easily for the most part. 3rd party apps bring in tons of extra functionality.

Obviously, it's not perfect. I wish it didn't take so long for applications and updates to applications to show up in the app store. But I'm definitely happier with the iPhone than I was with the Windows Mobile phones I'd had prior.

Michael Sliwinski
Dec 23, 2009 15:32
The iPhone is not perfect, nothing is. The Appstore policies are getting better and the software updates keep on solving all the annoyances that we can encounter.

Thanks for your comment Emuelle1, I too wouldn't want to go back to any Nokia or a Windows Mobile powered device for any price.