On Control Center’s Norman Door problem

Michael McWatters, on Medium, illustrating the Norman Door problem with iOS 10’s split-up Control Center: You swipe up to reveal the Control Center, then swipe sideways between the two panels. This has created a couple usability problems: The only indication that there’s another hidden panel is the carousel-style dots at the bottom of the screen; these are tiny and easy to miss, so users may not even know there’s more than one panel. Once you swipe to a given panel, you have to swipe in the opposite direction to go back, and this is where the Norman Door problem arises. Here’s how this plays out: you swipe up to reveal the Control Center’s Home panel, the default. You need the Now Playing panel, but you’re not sure where it’s hiding, so you swipe right. Wrong! That’s a dead end, but you had a 50% chance so better luck next time! Later, you want to go back to the Home panel, but you’ve forgotten whether it’s off screen to the left or right, so you swipe left again. Wrong! Another dead end. You swipe right and you’re in the right place. His proposed solution: […]treat the two panels as an infinite alternating carousel: no matter which panel you’re on, the other panel is off-screen on either side. While reading Micheal’s article, I was constantly reminded of the way Apple Music solves this problem of indicating ‘There’s more content to the other side’ by showing the user just a bit of said content from the edge of the screen. (If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, open the Music app and switch to the For You tab to have a look for yourself.) Instead, Micheal proposes the edge-revelation method I just described when his readers pointed out that people who use Home-Kit devices have a third Control Center panel. In this case the infinite carousel solution breaks because the user is forced to either hit-and-try, or memorisation (until they’re habituated—of course) to get to the panel they want. But I think the infinite-carousel solution is flawed even if there weren’t the problem of a third panel. Here’s why: The metaphor being used by this panel/screen-swipe gesture is that of flipping the pages of a book. (For iOS apps, the related element is called ‘UIPageViewController’.) It has a sense of familiarity with the analog world where flipping (swiping) forward gets you to the ‘next’ object. Keep going ‘next’ and you reach the end. You never encounter the same object again—like you would in a carousel. If you’re thinking, ‘Yes, but people are comfortable with the digital world now; designers can come up with metaphors native to the digital world’, you’d be right. Allow me, then, to put forth my second argument. Doing an infinite-carousel would break familiarity with other parts of iOS. Consider, for example, the iOS lock-screen—it uses the same paginated control. Lock-screen (with notifications) at the center, widgets and camera to the left and right, respectively. An infinite carousel solution with these screens seems incredibly bleak—even if you chose just two screens. It would be confusing for a user to have to remember two pagination paradigms—one that scrolls in a loop and one that doesn’t. (I suspect this could be the reason why playing music in a playlist doesn’t make songs loop by default; it’s only due to the nature of music listening that music apps include a loop option). The problem still stands though: Control Center does need some attention, and of the existing solutions, I too think the shrink-panes-to-reveal-other-panes solution is the best.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Apple looking to set up a distribution center in India

Husain Sumra, MacRumors: The distribution center, which Apple’s global logistics partner DB Schenker will own and operate, will be in the city of Bhiwandi, near the city of Mumbai. An unnamed executive told The Economic Times that the center will “allow Apple to stock its products adequately, will ease operations and streamline its logistics and supply chains.” It will also help Apple maintain consistent pricing for its products. Apple products are pretty much always out of stock here unless they’re a) very popular like the iPhone or b) not popular at all, like the Apple TV. (The iPhone 7 Plus was barely in stock on launch-day and Apple’s retail partners still have the MacBook 101 on display.) Buying an Apple Watch was a terrible experience for me, partly because of the sub-standard retail experience and partly due to the fact that no one had stock. I haven’t found a single place I can buy myself Apple’s woven nylon bands since then—retail or online. I suppose this is some consolation?

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

The Verge: ‘Moto pushes off smartwatches indefinitely’

Dan Seifert, The Verge: The company had earlier said it would not be releasing a new smartwatch in 2016, but it is now saying that it doesn’t plan to put out a new device timed to the arrival of Google’s newest wearable platform, either. Shakil Barkat, head of global product development at Moto, said the company doesn’t “see enough pull in the market to put [a new smartwatch] out at this time,” though it may revisit the market in the future should technologies for the wrist improve. This is one of the perks you get by being in the Apple ecosystem—modern Apple either doesn’t enter a segment or it pushes heavily forward despite slumping sales. The iPad is a good example. The Moto 360 was one of the better, if not the best, Android smartwatch. I’ve hardly seen people get enthusiastic about Android smartwatches lately, the way they do about Fitbits or Apple Watches. I love my Apple Watch and Apple’s direction for it seems ambitious too. It’s reassuring to know that Apple seems committed to the Watch. I’ve changed my interactions with my iPhone (I use it a lot less now) to incorporate the watch and I like it better this way. I’m glad I don’t see myself in the position some pro users do with their Macs.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka