Apple should improve the e-mail and texting capabilities

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in iPhone edited January 2014
http://www.informationweek.com/news/...leID=206901011



Quote:

iPhone Predictions: Improved E-Mail And Texting

Apple should improve the e-mail and texting capabilities of the iPhone and find a way to provide tactile feedback when users touch a key, a usability expert says.



By W. David Gardner

InformationWeek

February 29, 2008 12:52 PM





Industry analysts and pundits expect Apple to introduce additional features and capabilities to its popular iPhone next week. They expect those enhancements to appeal to the business user and make the mobile phone-browser-music player combo play better with the type of IT infrastructure used by most companies.

One key area that needs improvement, says one usability expert, is e-mail and text-entering capabilities. "Apple should elevate the good features, like magnifying glass and cursor movement. And it should provide cut-and-past capability," said Gavin Lew, managing director of User Centric, in an interview. He also hopes Apple will let users turn off the phone's auto-correct feature.



The iPhone has received high praise for its music and video entertainment features, but has left most business users cold because they rely so heavily on e-mail. Some observers expect Apple to introduce connections to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Exchange or other popular e-mail applications when it holds a press conference next Thursday. The company plans also to discuss the status of its software developer kit.



Based on User Centric's usability studies of the iPhone, Lew said he expects Apple to address the complaints -- particularly from business users. "Apple should consider improving haptic feedback," said Lew, referring to the phenomenon of giving users some sort of "buzz or tiny indication" of tactile response when a key on the phone's touch screen has been activated. He noted that Apple recently filed an important tactile patent, "Keystroke tactility arrangement on a smooth touch surface."



Independent researchers have been working to provide tactile feedback, including Glasgow University researchers Malcolm Hall and Eve Hoggan, who have developed a prototype scheme in which vibrations and waveforms on the iPhone give users the sensation of pressing or releasing a key on the iPhone keyboard.



In its studies of iPhone users, User Centric found that they made significantly more errors and took more time to accomplish e-mail and texting tasks than consumers who used mobile phones with tactile QWERTY keyboard phones. Users were frustrated by the vertical keyboard and its lack of visibility for editing in the middle of a word or sentence.



Lew also expects Apple to improve the touch zones on the edge of the keyboard, where users often hit an unintended key, creating "false alarms."



Lew gives the iPhone high marks for its intuitiveness, but he says Apple doesn't provide enough help for users, particularly business users who generally need to carry out their tasks quickly and without error. "Apple gives you a four-page pullout," said Lew. "It's not in-depth. They want you to find out by yourself."



While not making a prediction, Lew said adding a sliding QWERTY keyboard to the iPhone would have great appeal to business users.




Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    I like how you wrote absolutely nothing.



    Seriously, are we just quoting entire articles without a piece of commentary now?
  • Reply 2 of 8
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    it would be interesting to see how many by % corps that use exchange and how many use ibm lotus notes system. if 90% of enterprise use these two then apple can gather a lot of steam by connection capability. does RIM use their own type of email exchange or a plugin to the two above.

    so how many "enterprise" solutions does apple need....and how to become a true RIM competitor?? couldn't instead set up a program to automatically check every 5 minutes for email then download?? but then again you can't use the other features of the iphone while it is downloading--even send receive voice or use the internet--correct?
  • Reply 3 of 8
    dmberdmber Posts: 204member
    slider QWERTY = horrible idea
  • Reply 4 of 8
    thttht Posts: 3,037member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post


    it would be interesting to see how many by % corps that use exchange and how many use ibm lotus notes system. if 90% of enterprise use these two then apple can gather a lot of steam by connection capability. does RIM use their own type of email exchange or a plugin to the two above.



    RIM's server software runs on top of Exchange and Lotus. That's a delicate position if I ever saw one. If this was 1992, MS would have screwed them until they died, but fortunately for them, it's 2008 and several anti-trust violation cases later.



    Quote:

    so how many "enterprise" solutions does apple need....and how to become a true RIM competitor?? couldn't instead set up a program to automatically check every 5 minutes for email then download?? but then again you can't use the other features of the iphone while it is downloading--even send receive voice or use the internet--correct?



    Well, if there was no strategic interest, do whatever is the easiest. By "easy", I mean saleable to IT managers, ie, the minimum work for the least amount of dollars (and the most amount of dollars into an IT managers pockets). This likely means direct integration with the MS Exchange server or RIM BES. If Apple was able to clean-room clone the interface, that'll be like the ideal situation for them as they wouldn't have to pay a license. Realistically, they probably will have buy a license or form a partnership.



    The issue with having a short-interval pull of email is that it doesn't really work if the server software doesn't support it. Apple has to work with MS to have the iPhone be compatible with Exchange.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    thttht Posts: 3,037member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dmber View Post


    slider QWERTY = horrible idea



    I'd also add haptic feedback = horrible idea.



    In a lot of these infotainment articles, they are definitely written to get readership not to present accurate information, so I imagine Mr. Lew is a lot smarter than this. Who knows, maybe he's just trying to create a lot of PR for his company.



    In this article, the sliding QWERTY form factor is the kind of conclusion people get when they are focused too much on one thing and don't see the forest from the trees. Here, it is text input. If text input is the number one thing a person does, a landscape slider is probably the best option. Unfortunately, there are other things to consider. Using a slider is clumsy at best. It's too much of a mental context switch. When it is open, it becomes too big to handle well. This is probably why candy bar form factors with thumb pads are much more prevalent (Treo, Dash, Blackjack, Blackberry, etc).



    And I can't believe he seriously thinks haptic (vibrating) feedback is good. It's idiotic. The iPhone already has two forms of feedback for a button press: visual and audio. We perceive both of those much faster and much better. They both can be refined further as well such as better visual feedback for button presses or having different sounds for different keys. The vibrating feedback is just disorienting and won't scale to faster typers or to different things on the screen.



    The editing comment is mostly about cursor control and Apple can add a better implementation of that by having a quicker way to get to the magnifying glass or allowing a touch to place the cursor. They can even add VI-ish controls if they want to.



    In the meanwhile, Apple is trying to research direct mechanical feedback to touch screens, the patent Lew refers to. That'll be interesting, but I think not very useful in the end as I think the key to keyboards is the feeling of the keys not necessarily the mechanical feedback. Heh, one idea I've been thinking about for an Apple UMPC clamshell is touch-sensitive keys on a keyboard to eliminate the trackpad. The keyboard will in fact be the trackpad. Sliding the finger across the keys (without pushing them down) would move the cursor. I think some phone company has already implemented this on their cell phone as well.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    There's nothing wrong with the iPhone keyboard, besides the fact that I'd like a shortcut for commas, as in double tapping the "123?" key for a comma + space. Besides that there's loads of other things app-wise which are a much higher priority than a keyboard that works and gets out of the way when you're not using it.



    All haptic keyboards do is unnecessarily waste batteries, not needed at all. As for a slide out keyboard, if you must have one don't buy an iPhone. Problem solved.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    dmberdmber Posts: 204member
    agreed.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    chillichilli Posts: 40member
    Apple patented haptic feedback for touch sensitive mobile devices.
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