iOS Scrollbars and Discoverability

First of all, Michael Gubik says

Just discovered you can drag scroll bars on iOS (you have to hold for half a second)

And, oh my god, it works.

I’ve been using an iPhone since June 29, 2007 – twelve years! – and I never knew this was a thing. To quote Hannes Oud

Is this a new feature? I guess it is, according to Jared Sinclair

@steipete I would keep the custom handle. I’m a developer and an Apple nerd and even I didn’t discover the new feature until someone showed me, and at this moment I can’t even remember how to do it.

If developers as tuned-in to the Apple ecosystem as myself and those quoted above had no idea about this feature, how on earth are normal users ever going to figure this stuff out? Do we just accept that scrolling quickly (by dragging) is only for power-users – like keyboard shortcuts on a desktop? (Well, to be fair, at least keyboard shortcuts are discoverable since they’re listed next to each menu item.)

This all goes back to discoverability and flat design and UI affordances. Back to when a button looked like something you could click or tap (or lick). Matej Bukovinski, of fantastic PSPDFKit fame, writes:

We were considering dropping our custom drag handle in favor of the new draggable scroll bars. However, discoverability is simply not good enough. I’m sure everybody tried it when fist getting an iPhone and then made peace with the previous behavior.

It’s great to see 3rd party developers trying to improve the situation for their customers. It just sucks that they need to.

I’ll leave you with this.

The new Catalina TV app and forced advertisements

Benjamin Mayo tweets:

Also the TV app on the Mac is a web view in a (very) thin wrapper and lacks key functionality like the ability to open a context menu. You can’t right click or long press on anything.

If you Force Touch on something, you get this wonderful artefact of it being a web view.

I don’t pretend to know the timeline the Apple engineers who built these shoddy new apps were under. Maybe there simply wasn’t enough time or resources available to make a native app versus a hastily constructed web view. Lord knows, I’ve fallen back to using a web view for complex layouts in my own apps when up against a deadline. But not for the whole damn app.

His entire thread is a good critique worth reading – particularly this bit:

The Apple TV+ experience will also suffer from the ‘advertisements of stuff to buy everywhere’ design of the TV app — something which I think will sadly never change — that I first described back in April.

As I’ve mentioned before, this goes hand-in-hand with Apple’s new push for services revenue at the expense of UX and what customers actually want. The Catalina and iOS 13 App Stores feature new Apple Arcade sections that you can’t get rid of. And the latest Apple TV update includes a dedicated, non-removable Arcade app that Apple helpfully places in the top row of your apps when you upgrade.

(Side note: Even the Mac App Store on Mojave is running a giant ad about Apple Arcade, which isn’t even available for those who haven’t upgraded to Catalina. Further, they can’t even be bothered to take the time to do it right. Just look at how the headlines are truncated when the window isn’t fullscreen.)

I get it. They want their services to be successful. And part of ensuring that is making certain everyone knows these new offerings are available. It’s called advertising and I’m totally fine with that. I’m even all in favor of Apple Arcade as a way for quality developers to get paid for making quality games without resorting to dirty in-app purchase shenanigans.

So, please, Apple. Tell me all about Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ and your “vision for television“. Sell me on their immense value and benefits. But then let me dismiss your advertisements and get the fuck on with using the hardware I paid for.

Severe side-eye for Apple’s podcast “URL”s

Dave Verwer, of iOS Dev Weekly fame, tweeted this helpful iOS interaction

And then in the conversation that followed…

I get that Apple is likely trying to be helpful (while also driving engagement to their first party apps), but this is purely arrogant design to “require” an HTTPS URL to open in a specific app, when that app isn’t even installed.

All other 3rd party Universal Links fall back to the browser if the companion app isn’t installed. Why don’t Apple’s first party links? The App Store marketing page says…

A store that welcomes competition. We believe competition makes everything better and results in the best apps for our customers.

So I guess we’ll soon see the ability to set a default 3rd party web browser or mail client?

iOS Mail.app toolbar redesign

via Craig Hockenberry.

I’m right there with Craig in wondering why so many common actions were removed.

And while this isn’t specific to iOS 13, it’s always puzzled me why Delete is right next to Reply – especially now on iOS 13 with so much more toolbar space available. That button placement just seems…dangerous.

Ugh, Music.app

The way to make a single song repeat in Music in iOS 13 is the absolute dumbest interaction design decision I’ve encountered in iOS in years. Clearly every designer working on iOS at Apple uses Spotify.

Via Mike Rundle; and he’s not the only one.

I consider myself an advanced user, nonetheless, Music.app on iOS baffles me nearly every time I use it. It’s just the weirdest damn thing, and I constantly find myself getting lost.

I’ve been an Apple Music subscriber since 2015, and I still have no coherent understanding of how the Up Next queue works.

Is it because I’m in my 30’s and I think everything featured on the “Browse” tab is just the 2019 equivalent of mid-90’s FM radio payola hot-garbage?

The only reason I use Apple Music over Spotify (or, hell, even Tidal) is because every time I’ve attempted to use a competing service, iOS insists on playing the first song in my iTunes library that begins with the letter A whenever I start my car.