The Squirrels Are Watching

Three things that bug me about the iPhone

Posted in Code and Tech by andrewfong on June 4, 2009

I lost my iPhone a few days ago. When I was a kid, I often brought a book with me when eating by myself, so I’d have something to do while eating besides … um … eating. The book’s been replaced by my phone though (take that Kindle!), so going to to lunch without it just felt plain weird.

So let me be the first (or second or third or whatever) to extol the awesomeness of the iPhone. I used to have a Windows Mobile Tilt / TyTn2, and the iPhone 3G is hands-down superior. That said, I do have three very large annoyances.

PINCH AND ZOOM

I know it’s supposed to be ‘intuitive’ and whatnot, but I think it’s retarded. First, it’s not that intuitive. To zoom in on a map in real-life, you don’t try to pull it apart. Second, it requires two hands — or a really awkward motion with one hand and two fingers. I use my iPhone when I’m on the go, and when I’m on the go, I tend to have one hand occupied — e.g. holding a cup of coffee, opening doors, or wiping my ass in the bathroom. You get the idea.

What makes it worse is that the pinch-pull-zoom motion is so deeply ingrained into the iPhone everywhere. Webpages usually don’t resize (much), so zooming in is a necessity if you want to read the text. Granted, you can often double-tap to zoom in, but if there happens to be a link in the general vicinity of where you’re tapping, you’ll get sent to another site, forcing you to hit the back button and wait for the page to reload again.

So yeah, pinch and zoom may be intuitive. Or something. But for efficiency’s sake, I wouldn’t mind a one handed scroll option somewhere. Like magnifying class buttons. Or a strip on the side. Something.

TYPING AUTOCORRECT

The iPhone’s ability to guess what you’re typing is usually pretty good. But it’s wrong just enough to make want a physical keyboard again. What makes this particularly annoying is the auto-correct. It guesses what I’m saying often enough that I don’t turn it off, but I do use acronyms, technical terms, and other words not covered by the iPhone’s dictionary on a frequent basis. And for that, auto-correction is a bitch.

For those unfamiliar with the iPhone’s keyboard system, when you type something incorrectly, the iPhone will display the word it thinks you want on the screen (with a little ‘x’ next to it). If you do nothing and continue typing, the iPhone will automatically switch that word in. If you want to actually use the word the iPhone thinks you mis-spelled however, you have to tap the correctly spelled word on the screen.

I hate that.

Ironically, I think this is the reverse of the pinch-and-zoom thing. That was, arguably, intuitive. Tapping the word you don’t want to use is not. It’s efficient if you only type words from the iPhone’s dictionary — you don’t have to do anything extra to auto-correct. But it’s certainly not intuitive.

What I’d prefer is the option to have autocorrect be like autocomplete — e.g. tapping the word means ‘use it’ not ‘not use it’. Alternatively, a button I can hold down to keep autocorrect off while I’m typing acronyms would be nice. Like, you know, the caps button.

SETTINGS

I can turn off autocorrect though. It’s just that in order to do it, I currently have to go back to the home screen, click the settings button and go down another layer or two of options before I can do it. The problem is that for many setting changes, I don’t want to have to go back to the settings page. The inability for the iPhone to multitask means switching out to switch something like, say, brightness, means that to get back to what it was that I originallly wanted brighter means I have to wait for the damn app to reload. Very slow. Very annoying.

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