Apple is well known for its simplicity, but the upcoming version of the iPhone's system software is exhibiting usability weaknesses that companies like Nokia solved years ago.
Earlier this week, as part of the ramp-up towards releasing this software to the public, Apple began running a stress test of push notifications--the hallmark feature of the new operating system. This system sends notifications to your phone whenever there's an update from an application, even when it's not running.
To manage the onslaught of notifications from each application, Apple added a new menu that lets users manage push notification settings for each application, as well as providing a quick switch to turn them all on or off. While handy, this introduces an annoying problem for business users that Nokia solved a decade ago by providing a quick way to toggle multiple settings without the hassle of menu hopping.
User sound profiles, something that Nokia has had in its phones for over a decade, do just that. These let you change multiple settings on the device with just two button presses, and include things like ringer volume, vibration, keyboard tones, and control over how much attention each type of alert can get.
The best part is, you can switch between these profiles by quickly tapping the power button and choosing from a pop-up menu. You're also able to make your own custom profiles with settings you choose. There's even the option to have them automatically turn on and off during certain times of day, so you can have it switch to silent after 10 p.m. so it won't wake you or your significant other up when you're trying to go to sleep.
On the iPhone, you have one profile, and one profile only. Even if you turn the ringer sound off by flipping the volume silencer switch, you will still receive alerts and vibrations for incoming calls, e-mails, text messages, etc. Worse, with iPhone OS 3.0, Apple has embedded some of the options to turn these things on and off a little deeper than they were in version 2.0.
The new notification settings now live where the e-mail push notification used to reside. That menu has been pushed ever deeper into the mail settings, which means that to tweak things like how often it fetches e-mail and pops up with calendar items and invitations, you have to dive three settings menus deep (not including the two or more actions required to wake and unlock the phone and get to the settings menu).
So here's my problem with all this: when I start my work day I want to turn all this stuff back on after having to have turned it off so I wouldn't hear a buzz or have the screen light up every few minutes while I was asleep. I want it to get my work and Yahoo e-mail via push, and fetch all other mail every 15 minutes. I want to flip the push notifications back on, too. Now I have to go through two different settings menus, flipping each one of those things on, when there really should be one where I can manage both.
Even better would be… Read more