‘Perfectly Cropped’

Tyler Hall, on his wife’s inability to save an image from Messages after upgrading to iOS 13:

At this point there were a few seconds of silence before she yells “Oh my god! This is just like the dumb new Music app. I didn’t even know I could scroll down!”

Why didn’t she know there were options further down the share sheet? Because she’s using an iPhone 8, which happens to be just the right height to perfectly crop the share sheet. Take a look again at the first screenshot she sent me.

The “Copy” action is perfectly spaced from the bottom of the screen to appear like it’s the only option. And since iOS (and in some places now macOS, too) doesn’t offer visual affordances like scroll indicators, she had no idea there was any content further below.

In the early era of GUI design, we celebrated affordances. Any view that was scrollable was very clearly scrollable. We, as an industry, got away from that as the basic concepts of using a GUI became part of daily life for everyone. In the post-iOS 7 era, though, Apple seems outright opposed to affordances. Hall’s wife’s assumption that she was looking at the entire share sheet — that it ended with the “Copy” button at the bottom, was perfectly reasonable. Just by looking at it, there’s no reason to think there’s more. But “just by looking at it” is the way user interfaces should be designed.

Thursday, 24 October 2019