“Is one hand better than two? For years, smart-phone designers have built products around the premise that people should only have to use one hand to look up a contact, scroll through e-mail, or answer a call. Think of a business traveler rushing through an airport, trying to check voice mail while searching for the gate and recaffeinating,” Tom Krazit writes for CNET News.
“But Apple, as it is wont to do, headed in the other direction with the iPhone. If you’ve got long, flexible fingers you can use the iPhone with one hand, but most of us have to use two to do just about anything on the iPhone’s touch-screen interface, as shown in the demonstration videos produced by Apple,” Krazit writes.
MacDailyNews Take: We do not think we have the world’s longest, most-flexible fingers, but we can still somehow manage to use most anything on the iPhone one-handed and type with our thumbs. Pinching to zoom does, of course, require two hands, or at least a place for the iPhone to rest while you zoom with two fingers, although we’ve have had some limited success with one-handed pinching (that’s what the girl said at the picnic), by using the good old thumb and index finger method while cradling the iPhone with our other three fingers and palm; this does take some flexibility. Bottom line: Krazit is overstating the need for two-handed iPhone operation by a decent amount which makes us wonder if he’s actually really used the iPhone in the real world or just watched Apple’s online videos.
Krazit continues, “The smart phones that most people are familiar with–the Nokias, BlackBerrys and Treos–only require one hand for basic operation. Obviously, typing on the QWERTY keyboards used by most of those devices is a two-handed operation, but navigating through the menu, looking up a contact, and using countless other functions only requires a single hand.”
“To achieve those goals, one-handed phones have to have real buttons–famously dismissed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs–that give people the ability to feel their way around a keypad, said Gadi Amit, founder and principal designer of New Deal Design,” Krazit writes.
“Try doing that with the iPhone. The lack of tactile buttons–except for the home button–has forced Apple into a two-handed mode of operation because users need to have the phone directly in front of them, with their attention focused on the screen, to make sure they are hitting the right buttons, the designers agreed,” Krazit writes.
MacDailyNews Take: Again, overstating the need for two hands – the real difference with iPhone is the need to use your eyes to see the screen vs. memorizing physical buttons to achieve limited results like placing a call. One glance at the iPhone and you can initiate a call quicker than with most other cell phones with physical buttons and their awful interfaces.
Krazit continues, “While all designers bemoaned the lack of physical buttons, they also said Apple’s touch-screen approach is a breakthrough in terms of how people interact with their phones.”
Krazit writes, “Physical buttons would have required Apple to make compromises on the size and quality of the screen, and would take away some of the flexibility of the iPhone. Buttons drawn by software can be discarded when the user switches to another application, but on other smart phones, a healthy portion of the device is covered with buttons that only come into play when typing. So, is this a problem for Apple? Will users be frustrated by the need to keep two hands on their iPhones at all times? Perhaps at first, but there are some likely outcomes.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: The ultimate would be a screen that actually physically transforms to give tactile feedback based upon its display. Until then, we like the direction Apple’s taken (although perhaps five or so small bumps on the iPhone’s side to which users could assign desired functions (play/pause for iPod, frequently dialed numbers, etc.) might be an interesting idea.