This is likely completely tangential to the discussion, but I enjoy my 80-or-so button phone. Physical keyboards are still ideal.
I’m on Android, with four buttons: Menu, Home, Back, Search - I use the first three all the time, but rarely the fourth because search is baked into applications already, which means I start my searches from browser address bars or in-app search boxes. I can see why Android devices are dropping the search button, but I would be annoyed a bit if they dropped to just two buttons.
You’ve had you’re iPhone for how many years and you are still not sure what one button does?
I had my Google Nexus 2 weeks and I’m happy with the three buttons at the bottom.
(Its the extra button that appears in different places per app, that bugs me.)
The Nokia N9 that is pointed out by many is a fine example of a UI without hardware buttons but you should really look into the HP Pre 3 with its gesture bar. It’s so intuitive that I feel locked when I borrow someone else’s phone. Too bad the os is kind-of buggy and that they barely managed to release it before pulling the plug.
Keep up the great blogging, always looking forward to the next post.
I have the same problem as Lee on my iPod Touch 4G, where the Home button was just a little flaky: a single physical click would register as anywhere from 0-2 clicks on the device, but usually 1. Meaning: sometimes I’d go to open multitasking, and BAMF. Back at the home screen. Sometimes it would tease me, by opening the multitask drawer and then closing it again immediately. Sometimes I’d click-to-stop-shaking and the multitask drawer would close.
Then I upgraded to iOS 5 and now 1-7 physical clicks will register as 0-2 (i.e. usually 0 per click now), along with horrendous lag that only exacerbates the problem. Click… nothing… click… display rushes through the animations of two individual single clicks.
Out of magic error.
This article (and the responses) have taught me more about how to use my iPod Touch than all of the document Apple included in the box put together!
FWIW, there’s no such thing as an IPOD Shuffle 5g (yet). 4g, with physical controls, is the latest version. Perhaps you’re confusing with the Nano?
I am completely happy wih Android’s evolution. Just 3 buttons : back, home & contextual menu. The latter, is equivalent to a right-click, which allows to reach advanced features. It’s essential to me.
I never use the search button directly.
A- talk about a poster child for open and easy posting, you should look at StackOverflow to see how it’s done (joke, get it, joke). Seriously, it took 15 or 20 clicks and attempts to finally register on typepad in order to post here. Truly a lesson in frustration. I especially liked where typepad would actually create the user, return you to the exact same “create user” page without telling you, then, when you hit Submit again, it would tell you the blog name you chose was not available (because it had just created it invisibly)… so I probably created 3 or 4 bogus blog names (or more) before finally realizing what was happening.
B-THANKS SO MUCH for this blog entry… I NEVER realized that there was a “doubleclick” on the single button on my iPhone3G (really, it never occurred to me to try). Now I just have to figure out what it does in various situations.
I actually really, really love the gestures on my Playbook, and have found myself trying to use them on my Android phone when after extended Playbook use. It’s frustrating.
It’s actually one of the few things that I think RIM has done right in recent years. Don’t get me started on the rest of the device though.
It doesn’t matter how many overloads the button has, only that the behavior when you push it is what you expected.
Very rarely do I push the home button on an iPhone and get behavior I was not expecting.
You forgot another function for the iPhone home button: it allows you to take a screenshot when pressed together with the power button/lock screen button on the top right.
A handy function, sure, but it adds even more non-intuitive functionality to the already overloaded home button.
I second the BlackBerry PlayBook’s implementation of gestural commands.
The PlayBook does not have Home, Back, or other command buttons on its front face yet it is very easy to return to the main menu or switch to another open application.
A single-finger swipe is used to scroll within an application, to switch from one app to another, and to return to ‘Home’. The key ingredient that makes all of this work intuitively is the Playbook’s bezel.
That black band of glass surrounding the image, a dead-zone on most other devices, is actually a live part of the PlayBook’s user-interface.
Swipe from the bottom frame upwards (effectively, starting from “outside the app”) and you reduce the current app to a window and expose the main menu; you’re returned to ‘home’.
Swipe from the top frame downwards and you expose the app’s menu.
Swipe from the right frame towards the center and you switch to the next running application. Same applies if you start from the left frame.
Naturally, all up/down and left/right swiping within the boundaries of the frame (i.e. withing the visable app) controls vertical and horizontal scrolling.
In addition, many UI items subjected to a swipe respond with appropriate “physics” (i.e. acceleration/deceleration/momentum) thereby an imparting a sensation of interacting with real-world objects in a fluid medium.
One could argue that the frame constitutes four buttons. However, operating a button is a different physical interaction compared to a swipe. The beauty here is that the ‘button’ has been replaced with a swipe thereby maintaining a consistent experience.
The reason why apple decided to implement only one button on the iPhone since the very start is to give the user a fallback solution. One can always return to a familiar scenario if one feels lost. This is crucial to a big number of users and maybe not to so many (like us discussing this who think about function and technology behind things.
All the extra features like double tapping etc. are exactly for us. Most of my none technical aware friends don’t even know of the existence of these extras.
I’ve been using an android phone once or twice up to now but never really understood what app would justify the existence of a separate back button (which couldnt have been implemented per software). Maybe my apple influence is just to big here so I’d say both solutions might be equaly good.
One likes to go back step by step, the next directly back to the home screen. I suppose there’s no difference.
The Nexus S (which I’ve had for 8 months) has 4 physical buttons, all of which I think are reasonable. Back, Options, Search, Home. They all make sense, and it’s usually fairly obvious which one to press in a given context.
I dont think the writer of this article has seen a HTC Aria or phones like it. Theres 4 buttons and each r clear. So saying android phones have confusing buttons too is just wrong. Some may yes, but not all.
If u cant tell a house is home, menu is ur menu, the back button is to go back, and the lens is search…something is very wrong with u Ill gladly take 4 buttons over single click, double click, click and hold, and click, pause, click
just my 2 cents