By November 24, 2007

Interfaces: A Scroll Wheel For The iPhone

Design site graphpaper.com has a unique suggestion for the iPhone: bring back the scroll wheel.

His objections, in particular, relate to the sliders that Apple uses for navigating through a song and setting the volume. These “scrubbers”, as he calls them, are ill-suited to the task because they don’t offer enough fine-grained control and because your finger tends to obscure your position as you attempt to slide them back and forth.

I agree, especially since Apple made another interface faux-pax in their use.

First, check out the article, Scrubbing the iPhone Scrubber in order to see the problem and his proposed solution.

And the other faux-pax?

Well, it’s like this. I tend to use my iPhone not for listening to to music, but for “reading” audiobooks. On the original iPod, you could change your position within the book relatively easily by spinning the scroll wheel and watching the time indicator. Remember 3 hours 43 minutes and you’re all set.

Unfortunately, on the iPhone there are now two mechanisms needed to accomplish the same task. First, you need to use the “chapter” icon in the upper right-hand corner of the title screen to bring up the title/chapter list and select the proper chapter.

That done, you need to go back to the cover page to bring up the slider so you can position yourself WITHIN the chapter.

One position control on one screen, the other position control on another screen, and both needed to do the job.

Worse, the time hack on the title page only shows the length of the current chapter, so it’s impossible to “sync” an iPhone book with the same book off an iPod, or off iTunes on your computer, as both of those display and use the entire length of the book with no chapter settings.

It’s also entirely too easy to hit the next/previous buttons and lose your place entirely.

In short, it’s yet another situation where Apple “improved” the visual aspects of the interface, at the expense of actual usability.

And yes, I know that in the scheme of things that this is just a detail… but then again, it’s the attention to these kinds of details that combine to make up the Apple experience.

[via graphpaper.com]

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