Another Reason Apple iPhone Will Suck---For Filipinos

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.

21 replies

  1. @JAngelo: I still think a chat system should use one-liner text fields by default. Plus, even if the the “bubbles” can stretch, there’s nothing like reading a text message the way phones normally display it. I think they prioritized form over function in that aspect, a huge no-no.

    @Corsarius: Yes, true. I’m eyeing a pretty cheap and good-lookin’ 3G phone right now. But the truth is I have no true reason to buy a high-tech phone right now. Not while I’m glued to Risk. Bluetooth? That would be a cool procedure, but very awkward! Haha, nice suggestion tho’!

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  2. i’ve read a lot of opinions about the iPhone, gravitating between blindly praising such a revolutionary product (it cures cancer!) and categorically saying it’ll suck due to some uber-specific design decisions.

    my only beef with the iPhone is the same one as Jason Fried’s. you lose the “touch factor” when you move the entire interface to a flat screen. it’s the same issue with XDAs and the like: you can only control your phone without looking at it if it actually has buttons that you can feel your way around.

    now, that in itself is not going to stop me from getting one of these just as soon as i can. it’s just too interesting a device to pass up.

    regarding your concerns over sms, don’t forget that this machine runs OSX, so even if the text-input area didn’t expand dynamically (it normally would), you could always just install a different app to handle your SMS conversations. (hell, you could probably even code one yourself, in Ruby/Python/Perl or any other language that OSX interprets right out-of-the-box.)

    this is really what i’m looking forward to actually, the ability to easily hack the crap out of your phone. even small things like Automator scripts will go a long way towards making the mobile experience a hell of a lot easier.

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  3. You can take this post down, you look in the video and see that it automatically expands as you type.


    Siiiimple. You will see the whole message, in fact, more than you do today.

    Knowing this, write another post, or edit this post, and write another, saying you were wrong, and that it pwns!


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  4. Pingback: The Multi-Touch Screen by Perceptive Pixel: Jeff Han Takes User Experience to the Next Level * Stellify

  5. What I don’t understand is why this phone is advertised to be 5 years more advanced than any other phone in the market. About a year ago, I’ve already seen a demo of a Japanese phone that would project 3D images of the person you are talking to – inspired by no less than Star Wars.

    (and no 3G?!?!?! Is that true? That sucks! They didn’t leave that out, did they?)

    The only new thing about this phone that I see, is … the interface.

    I can’t understand why Mac products always seem to be regarded better than anything else in the market. I’ve used a handful of their products and the experience was no better than the ones I’m already using.

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  6. Say goodbye to speed texting XD You think it’s possible to attach an embossed transparent sticker on the LCD to facilitate touch-texting? XD

    SMS over phone connected to a computer via Bluetooth/IR – is there anything new about this? Uh… This is old, really.

    anti poseur-tech

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  7. Yes, it lacks 3G. It might not matter in the states, but here it will be a big issue.

    The thing with Apple is that aside from making sure their products look really slick, they’ve also made sure it’s easy to use. This might not be as recognizable to expert techies like you, Mai, but n00bs are thankful for that, and the fanboys will say “that’s how it’s supposed to work” (e.g. MacOS vs Windows).

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  8. Well it’s good to know that the text field does in fact expand, as the movie shows. Because that would’ve really bugged me. My first brick phone did that!
    Like everyone else, I love what I’ve seen of iPhone so far, and want to buy one myself. The only thing that bothers me about it is the SMS app.

    Firstly, I’m not too sure about the QWERTY ‘keypad’. Maybe I’ll be happy after a short adjustment period, but at this point I only want to use qwerty on my iBook! If the phone will be hackable, maybe users who don’t like the QWERTY keypad can create an app that has the good ol’ phone keypad. That would be the only advantage of a touch screen keypad – the fact that you could change it to anything you wanted.

    I’m also not too keen on the predictive text being so smart – the whole correcting mistakes feature reminds me of the later releases of ms word. Word frustrates me when it auto corrects my typing – sometimes I don’t want it to be corrected! I wonder how the phone will cope with text speak…

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  9. thank God i read this! i’ve been like so excited about having one (since i thought i can have it by next month, but it isnt coming yet). and now, im having second thoughts.. i really thought it could be the “perfect” phone.. i mean, cellphone and iPod in one gadget? heck yeah! BUT since it doesnt quite have a good enough SMS feature (even if i think i can save my credit.. lol), then i’ll have to think about it.. hehe

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  10. there is nothing new about this phone. it jsut has a nice design and a nice interface but with it’s tech specs, it can’t even match up to my n95.

    2 mega pixel for cam vs 5 megapixels
    no 3G vs 3.5

    this alone should be enough to convince you that while the phone could be very cool to have, you won’t be satisfied with it since you can’t use it around the globe. (e.g in europe, 3G keeps on evolving) This phone needs an upgrade.

    a nice phone but still primitive.

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  11. UM….

    It may just be one line visually, but you can type in a crap load of text. The iphone doesn’t suck. YOu have no idea what you’re talking about.

    The coolest thing about it, is the conversation is threaded. No more having to look up the last message you sent somebody because you have no idea what they are talking about.

    The ONLY flaw is that you cannot send multi media text messages.

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  12. waaaaaaaaa!!
    thank you all for putting yer comments here, it gave me a lot of ideas.,

    and is it true that N95 is waay better than iphone?? argg!! ive watched a movie,a couple of minutes ago, about iPhone VS N95, and iPhone won.. but still, im confused about yer reactions aout iphone..

    im a text addict, but IF i will get my hands on that so called iPhone, waaaaaaa! i’ll give up texting, and say hello to iPhone! hahaha!! :]]

    well in “sexiness”,iphone wins,but in the “earphone” thingy, N95 wins..
    camera,speed txting&&3g VS faster loading,larger screen,8GB??
    and whatever you can think..

    but as for me, I still pick iPhone,

    *(e kasi naman! andaling magluma ng nokia brands,
    napagiiwanan ng panahon, awch for me.. )*

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  13. hmmm.. hi all im from malaysia…. i think iphones are not advance by 5 years but they are waaaayyyy back then 10 years ago… can u believe it that this phone does not support forward smses… we cant even forward the sms that we receive and sent it to others… :(

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  14. I guess the iPhone was built around the American culture of doing things. I don’t think Americans are used to sending long SMS messages (Something we Pinoys can be very proud of!), and simply call people if they want their messages to be sent.

    There’s the hype, I admit I was infected, but then again, the iPhone does deliver. If we’re looking at a 3G functionality, lets face it, we aren’t pretty much a 3G nation (Yet! There’s hope!), so a 2G iPhone would be cool enough.

    Besides, Steve Jobs is already said that they are releasing a 3G iPhone. Yay! My saving period is extended!

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