5 Design Mistakes Apple Should Fix in iOS 5

App Switching

     Here’s how app switching currently works

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     Why is this model broken? it forces me to remember if the app was recently used, and if not, can I locate it quickly on a screen. Depending on my answers, I need to take a different action. I usually start searching in recent apps. If I can’t find it there, I go for search (I’ve got too many apps on my iPhone to swipe through all the screens to find one of them).

     The best way to simplify this model is to introduce the search box in app switching mode: When I double press the home button, recent apps show at the bottom, and a search box at the top. This way, I can find any app using the same action.

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Different keyboard layouts on iPhone and iPad

     I use an iPhone and an iPad on the road, and when I switch from one to another, I usually end up using "P" instead of backspace, or the "L" instead of return. Unifying the keyboard layout across iOS devices shouldn’t be that difficult!

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Rejecting an Auto-Correct suggestion

I find myself shifting the device in my hand to reject an auto-correct suggestion. And because the suggestion UI is too small, sometimes I end up clicking a link that takes me to a different page, and lose the form data I’d already filled out.

The solution for this one is also simple: add a "Reject" button on the toolbar above the keyboard. This button is accessible without shifting the device or moving the fingers too far to reach out for the tiny auto-correct UI.

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Deleting an app

I locate apps using two visual cues: icon color and location on the screen. Whenever I delete an app, icons rearrange themselves to fill the gap, and it takes me a while to get used to the new order. My work-around is bringing another app and placing it in the old spot, but again, that causes the screen that I grabbed the latter app from to rearrange.

I’d rather have empty spots on the screen than having the whole screen rearranged and lose muscle memory. I can then choose to tap on that empty spot to rearrange the screen, or grab an app from another screen to fill in the hole (I will still end up with a hole in the screen I grabbed the new app from, but that’s a compromise that I can live with)

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The close button in recent apps

When I switched from PC to Mac 5 years ago, I wondered why that red "close" button on the top left window is so tiny!

UI design 101 states that larger/closer objects are easier to hit than smaller/farther one (known as Fitts Law). For Apple, this is a form over function mistake, and iOS didn’t escape it.

For example, look at the "recent apps" area in app switching mode. I am driving my car, and I no longer need my GPS app to be interrupting my music. Trying to hit that red close button while driving almost got me into an accident. What other action is there to be done on the recent apps’ icons while they are bouncing? Why not make the close icon a bit larger, or make the whole app icon the hit region for closing the app, at least until a new feature is ready to use the full app icon?

Consistency reduces learning curve and contributes to the form factor, but I’d rather have convenience than consistency in this case.

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These design modifications were created in a few seconds using Apple Keynote and the iPhone prototyping template

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