Friday, July 25, 2014

The Best Example of Bad Design by Apple

Let's say for whatever reason, you decide to turn on Airplane Mode on your iPhone — maybe you're running low on battery or you're travelling out of country. Anyways, your iPhone is now disconnected and you decide to open an app that requires some form of connectivity to function. Let's take a simple example, Safari. You try to load up a website and then you're prompted with a dialogue box that says "Turn off Airplane Mode or Use Wi-Fi to Access Data" and your options are "OK" and "Settings". "OK" will dismiss the dialogue box and "Settings" will throw you into the settings app so you can turn off Airplane Mode or turn wi-fi on.

There are two problems here:

1) The settings button is fine, it does exactly what it's meant to do but, the problem lies with OK. To a normal person, OK would indicate giving permission — OK, turn off Airplane Mode so I can view this content, not OK, dismiss what you just told me and leave me having to do all the work myself. Somehow, OK needs to become something more obvious like cancel either by rewording the prompt or following the suggestion I'm going to make next...

2) The approach is all wrong, it feels like the type of approach Apple would take before iOS 7; before Control Center which is supposed to limit the number of times you visit settings for simple tasks like turning wi-fi on and off. So why are we still being yanked out of an app to do a simple task? At the very least, bring up Control Center as opposed to the settings app but, we can still do even better than that.

Instead of being confined to the basic utility of buttons, switches can be incorporated to simplify the process of turning certain settings on and off. Users are already familiar with switches and will definitely understand the meaning of Cancel. This approach is a rough idea I came up with and it may have some flaws. For example, it wouldn't make sense to just use Cancel as that will indicate no changes are applied so perhaps the inclusion of a "Done" button that only becomes clickable if changes are made would be more appropriate.

If you feel that complaining about something so simple is a bit of a stretch, try it for yourself. To this day, I still make the mistake of hitting OK accidentally, otherwise I wouldn't be writing about this issue here. Also, this isn't the only example of dialogue boxes with vague options and a tedious implementation for the user. Another example will result from having wi-fi turned off while using the Maps app. In the end, what it comes down to is detail. The smallest details are what add up to an outstanding experience and this, in my opinion is one detail Apple should take some time to address.