Is the iPhone hard to use?

28 Aug 2009 - 7:55am
6 years ago
1 reply
847 reads
Billy Cox

Young children are accustomed to experimenting with their world via
touch (and putting things in their mouth of course) so the iPhone fits
into their normal mode of discovery. Adults by contrast have learned
other means of discovery that might fail them when they have only a
single button and a screen.

Brandon E. B. Ward wrote:
> I've hesitated chiming in on this, because it's anecdotal, but Jeff's
> friend is not the only one to have experienced children and the iPhone.
> My 3 year old had unlocked (swipe to unlock) and was watching YouTube
> videos and playing games on my iPhone the day I got it. She figured
> out all the gestures on her own. Now, 2 years later, my now 2 year old
> uses it like a pro, partly after watching me, partly after watching my
> daughter.
> They know how to:
> Change settings
> Surf the web
> Send SMS and Email
> Play various games
> Call someone
> Take Pictures (their favorite)
> Basically, anything that doesn't require reading/writing - they figure
> it out, and they figure it out quickly. Give a 3 year old any other
> phone and tell me how fast they're confidently, and repeatedly
> accomplishing their stated goals with those interfaces and software.
> Could they have figured out 911 in ANY situation? No. But, I'm going
> out on an anecdotal limb here, if a 3 year old can figure it out w/out
> anyone showing them anything, and a 2 year old can get it by watching
> someone a few times I'm gonna surmise that the device is pretty darn
> easy to use. Just look at the number of kids' and small kids' apps in
> the App Store - mom/dad's device has turned into a portable family
> media station.
> Now - there are probably a myriad of factors involved. I'm guessing
> that since my kids have grown up in a world with computers, cell
> phones, remote controls, plasm a TVs, DVD players etc., whereas I had
> my first VHS at age 8, my first computer my freshman year of college
> etc., I think my kids are gonna be ahead of the curve compared to me
> when it comes to adopting and adapting new technologies. (My 5 year
> old has her own iBook and knows its basics as well now so...)
> I still come to the same conclusion - I did before, and beautifully
> quoted by Nasir:
> "There is nothing wrong with having to explain the principles of
> operation.
> It is wrong only when that same explanation has to be given ... over
> and over again." -- Don Norman
> However, in the case of my iPhone - the only thing I ever had to
> explain to my kids in terms of usability is which button was the
> 'done' or 'back' button as they couldn't yet read. I'm a firm believer
> that the iPhone platform is one of the easiest software/hardware
> combinations ever invented. I'm also an admitted Apple fanboy - so
> choose to believe if I'm biased or not.


28 Aug 2009 - 7:57pm

RE: Jet Townsend: IMHO, replacing physical buttons with a touch-screen
UI falls into the "just because we can, doesn't mean we should" bucket.

As an iPhone owner since the first day they came out (and I still own
& use the 1st gen), after seeing the Nokia Maemo - with the screen as
big as the iPhone screen _AND_ a nice QUERTY keyboard, I think that
might be the better route - in that it still allows you to have the
whole touch screen experience when you want, and a tactile keyboard
when you want as well.

Brandon E. B. Ward
brandonebward at
UI • UX • Ix Design
Flex • Flash Development

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion,
butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance
accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders,
give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new
problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight
efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
- Robert A. Heinlein

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