Another Reason Apple iPhone Will Suck—For Filipinos

Apple fans the world over are probably having parties to celebrate the announcement of the Apple iPhone (not the Cisco one). The status messages of my buddies on Yahoo! Messenger are babbling about doing anything they can to get their paws on one (even if it takes a lap dance, one of them said!).

But I’ve already read several shortcomings of the iPhone as well as counterarguments to those. And I’ve noticed another reason why, specifically for Filipinos.

It’s very simple, really.

The area to enter text in is too darn small. Just a one-liner.

Apple iPhone Phone SMS Feature

Take a look at the graphically enhanced screenshot of the iPhone, particularly the SMS interface. Sure it has an instant messager-like view of your conversation with a textmate, in candied speech bubbles, no less. Sure it has a smart keyboard that corrects spelling errors—not that Pinoys will suddenly use straight English instead of TXT-speak. Those two nice to have but not utterly necessary features gave little space for the user to type in. About thirty viewable characters at a time.

Because us Filipinos use text messaging way more than calls or email on our cellphones, doing one-liners on an Apple iPhone isn’t going to cut it. I have yet to see whether the MultiTouch technology will tap out those words easier than we would typically do, but I believe it is a usability and interface failure to use a tiny text field for the SMS one is composing.

Moreover, those speech bubbles may be cute, but they don’t seem to have enough space to display the carefully planned jokes and quotes people tend to forward—ones with lots of blank screens and line breaks and ASCII art. They should have treated SMS as email, at least. It is quite obvious how little regard these Westerners have for one of the most important features a cellphone can have—for us. They obviously don’t understand its power.

I hope I am wrong about this, that when you double-tap the text field it suddenly gets bigger, or something like that. I only got to see what Steve Jobs demonstrated at MacWorld 2007. Perhaps when it ships by 2008 the iPhone will have improved a lot.

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