The iPhone Ringer Switch

Dave Winer thought his iPhone was broken because it stopped ringing; ends up he had the ringer switch turned off. It’s easy to laugh at, but I think it’s actually a non-obvious design. There’s no icon or visual indication as to what that switch does. You do get a small jolt of vibration when it’s engaged, but that doesn’t naturally imply “silent mode” to me. (Update: Yes, there’s also an on-screen icon, but that only helps if you toggle it while the screen is on.)

It’s a great feature once you know about it, but it’s potentially dangerous if you don’t. Its intuitiveness is further hurt by the fact that most mobile phones don’t offer a switch like this, even though they should.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007