The iPhone Dilema

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Life these days seems to revolve around technology and the use of our phones or computers. The amount of time spent on the phone is extensive and everyone seems to know the in’s and out’s of their own. However, as phones have become more design and appearance focused, the number of buttons consistently drops as the touch screen becomes larger. The iPhone is one of the most popular phones and the number of people loyal to them is significant. Personally, I love the aesthetic look of the clean front screen and single home button. However, after recently using an Android product, I realized how the everyday item of my iPhone lacks a single key design element, the back button.

The fact that there is no button to go back a page or return to the last screen seems absurd when you think about how often you use the back button on your computer. Having a back button would off balance the clean look that the front of an iPhone offers and therefore we lose this impactful key. The Norman article highlights the key elements of visibility and communication which are needed for everyday items to be used with common sense. It even addresses how many complaints there were about phones that began simplifying and removing a hold button. The article noted that although the function was still there, the simplicity of the button was not, and therefore many customers were angered.

Yes, a phone is a very complicated piece of technology, however, the simplicity of button to take you back to a previous page is not. As an iPhone user, one would know that double clicking on the home button allows you to click on the previous app screen you were on. But an Android user who does not know this may use multiple steps by having to go to the home screen and search for the previous app just to get back to where they were if trying to use an iPhone. This example is an exact comparison to the lack of the physical hold button in the example Norman used. Although the action is possible with the new technology, the communication of how to do it is not. The visible mapping between wanting to go back to a previous app and the actual steps needed to get there are very unclear, where as a simple back button could show that in one step.

As Norman had mentioned, when the number of actions proceeds the number of controls, there is difficulty. The iPhone and it’s lack of a back button can singly be summed up by this statement.

This piece addresses the idea of enargeia because this design flaw is not what someone would see at first look. It took me using an Android and going back to my own phone to evoke the wonder that I now have as to why this button is missing. Another reason this piece satisfies the idea of enargeia is because of our attachment to technology. As you go to a different app or continue along a site, one can experience first hand how the use of a back button could make the steps to get back much easier since the phone is something we use every single day.


One thought on “The iPhone Dilema

  1. I would have to agree that having a back button similar to that on an Android would be very beneficial for iPhone users. I have had several iPhones over the last few years, upgrading to the latest version during each new release and as you mentioned, the touch screens have been getting larger and there have been fewer buttons. Buttons that have multiple options, which when clicked, open to several more option and several more options thereafter. Although I like the appearance of the iPhone and the capabilities that come with it, the simple additional of a back button would please many iPhone users, including myself. Sure there are multiple ways to go back to the previous page, but it requires multiple clicks whereas with an Android, there is a small touch button to do it in one step. The design of the iPhone is great, but designers should at least consider the addition of this simple feature.

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