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Proof That iOS Still Hasn’t Gotten Undo Right (daringfireball.net)
146 points by _hztt on Dec 6, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

I still can't select multiline text in a reliable manner after all these years. Those little handles jump around and you end up stuck selecting the weirdest substring. Moving app icons from one page to another is more of an art (I don't have fat fingers either).

I will say that after all these years, the most amazing thing is how much the iPhone interface got right on launch. Those first years were magical, like suddenly being thrust into the future. I just hope Apple finds Jobs 2.0 Dalai Lama style before they do irreparable damage.

Have you tried using force touch to select text--I have big fingers and it's my fav. iPhone feature. You just put the cursor on a word and press hard--the word gets selected. Then press even harder and the surrounding words get selected--you can also press hard and drag one side of the selection cursor to select left or right of the datum. (You need a 6s or greater phone though--5se won't do it).

This only works for editable text, though, right?

Selecting text from websites or other static text is as clumsy as ever.

Despite 8_hours_ago's comment, I also find selecting text from websites to not be so easy on iOS

Nope, it also works for static text

As of iOS 12, you can do the same thing by long-pressing the space bar. This works on phones without 3D Touch.

Damn, wish I figured that out sooner, very helpful, thanks!

Btw, there are always little gems to discover like this, Which I find out out after years of frustration. Is there a good source of “here are new iOS tricks you didn’t know about?”

In the good old days pre-iOS 4 Apple wouldn't implement the "swipe down from the top of the screen" to access settings because there was no easy way to discover that the action was possible... [1]

I do think that part of the early choices were quite rational, but the spirit of "ease of use trumps everything" got somewhat watered down over the years...

[1] and I used Cydia hacks to get that feature (well, almost, you had to swipe horizontally). There's often a contrast between ease of use and assisting power users.

35 hours of youtube 'features you didn't know existed'-guides.

I don't know how we're expected to stay up to date without regular user friendly manual updates that get pushed.

Reading reviews of the OS updates?

new iphones won't do them either. force touch is gone on all 2018 iphones

That’s not true. Only the iPhone XR is missing force touch (3D touch)

Edit: and even there, I believe you can long-press to get the same effect.

> I believe you can long-press to get the same effect.

Only in certain situations.

my mistake i guess i only watched an xr review

That's my first complain after I switched to iPhone (for the first time) from Xiaomi and I never expected since Apple/iOS is known for good UX/UI.

I have a feeling this has to do with different finger types. We all expect a different part of our finger to be the "tip" that registers as the cursor/pointer. Maybe the os could calibrate over time based on where you hit buttons.

That multiline select seems to work fine on an iPad, but I have issues with iPhones. So, I wonder if it’s a text size issue?

Playing around you notice having your finger between lines results in selecting a full line where having it on a word ends there.

Weirdly, android has nailed text selection + navigation in 9.0

The areas Apple runs to add and improve (AR, 3D face emojis, lotta camera depth work) keep landing in stark contrast to basics like this for me.

I'm still waiting, for almost a decade now, to have two (or more) countdown timers run simultaneously without a 3rd party app. Cooking two items at once continues to fall behind on the Cupertino priority list to tracking dozens of World Clocks to the second.

I usually just do, hey Siri, set alarm to x.

Then you can have as many alarms keeping track of your cooking as you want without touching your phone with your foodsy fingers.

If Siri understands you that is.

I agree with your point though, it’s kind of silly to focus on face emojis instead of letting two timers run simultaneously.

But then the clock app is littered with old alarms, like it's just beyond them to create a one time alarm that's deleted after it's done.

Me: "Siri create a one time alarm for 30 minutes" Siri: "The alarm is set for 1:05 AM" ...

It was 12:11AM at the time, seems it misinterpreted asking for a one time alarm as 1 o'clock and added five minutes to it.

"Delete all of my alarms"

I have to say this regularly to clean up the list. There's no other way to do this at once.

But I have a recurring alarm to wake me up each morning Mon-Thu, there is no way to say delete all alarms except the one I want to keep.

You could use the Bedtime as alarm clock. You can set it to specific days. Works well in my experience.

Or Apple could just fix the problem.

In the meantime I love my echo for timers. It just works.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t fix it. But using a workaround until they do is probably not a bad idea. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a quick fix seeing how this is less than ideal for 10 years already.

You can say "delete my inactive alarms" and Siri will not delete your recurring alarm.

By default, Android doesn't seem to keep my verbal alarms around. I like that.

Or "Hey Siri, directions to the nearest McDonald's." Then Siri responds, "Which local business? Tap the one you want."

I assume Apple sees the need to visit the App Store as a feature. I don't think this is going to change.

Operating systems have traditionally included the bare minimum to cover many popular use cases, but the included applications are rarely best of breed. TextEdit.app/Notepad.exe are lousy text editors, Calculator.app/Calc.exe are lousy calculators, and Chess.app/Winmine.exe are lousy computer games.

I've personally never needed two timers at once, and I can name a dozen other "basics" for me that I'm sure wouldn't be in your list. We like to complain when Apple doesn't include a feature (it's so basic!), and we also complain when Apple does (they're killing indie developers!). I think this is a good one for a third-party app. Unlike, say, keyboards, there's no real benefit I can see to this coming from Apple.

Absolutely; these are exhibition pieces, demo material. Apple even distributes (distributed?) TextEdit as sample code for the Cocoa text system. Chess too, as I recall.

The other day I had the opposite problem. I somehow managed to accidentally start two count down timers with the AOSP clock app (default android clock app) on my lineageos phone when trying to start one for timing a cooking thing. The first was not long enough, and I forgot to cancel it before starting the second.

Try "Shortcuts" it's an App (I believe owned by Apple now) that used to be called "Workflow." You'll for sure be able to set up an alarm called "My Second Timer" and set it to ask Siri to toggle the alarm on/off and use a variable for the number of minutes. Then you can use the "scripting" module to calculate current time + however many minutes to set the time to set the alarm when you trigger the event.

Not ideal to need a workaround like that but at least you can run two "timers" without clogging up your alarm settings.

I am still waiting for a way to turn off wifi and bluetooth in the control center.

The decision on making those buttons just disconnect was something I have a very hard time comprehending.

Not the same, but you can use Shortcuts to make a shortcut to turn off wifi completely in the notification centre widget area

I think the average customer doesn't really care. The information about the surrounding wifi APs is (ab)used to speed up the time to get a location fix. Time to location fix is important for the customer.

Apple claims battery life implications are a myth: https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-12271

I believe reasoning behind it is that you might end up leaving those switches off and burning through your data plan/wondering why you AirPods no longer work.

I'm assuming you want times that count down instead of up, because otherwise you could use the existing clock app, and use "lap" as a stop for one timer, and a start for a second timer. Try it In analog mode

the idea is to have multiple timers with alarms running simultaneously e.g. if you're cooking dinner and have multiple items that will need attention at different times. the stock iOS clock app only supports one active timer. it's a small thing that'd be very handy and shouldn't be much trouble to implement.

Maybe you know, but Android handles this just fine.

I was Apple-only for probably 7 years but just got a Pixel 2. It's..nice.

On one hand: true.

On the other hand: it's actually not so ridiculous to advertise quick undo for an app that involves drawing. MyPaint for example stands out as having undo mapped to Z instead of Ctrl+Z, an amazing quality of life improvement for drawing that I wish more painting apps had. It sounds minor... but I end up using Undo an insane amount when drawing, and this lets me relax my hand more.

So, I can also see why that's a good thing to mention, too.

I'd say there is nothing bad about having additional shortcuts for often used functions, as long as the standard ones still work (and of course as long as there is a standard...)

Some other things that iOS still hasn't gotten right:

- The "back" button. For every application it's in a different location.

- Connecting an external USB drive is impossible.

- There is no filesystem.

> There is no filesystem

Most of these aren't definite positive or negative things. Not having a file system is great for people who don't understand how to manage one.

So this is what Android/Windows people think of iOS...

> The "back" button. For every application it's in a different location.

Swipe from the left edge of the screen.

Not a system gesture, but installed for sheets on a per-app basis.

It is exactly a system gesture.

It's installed on navigation controllers when you push something on them, which is 95+% of the time you'd need it anyways. iOS distinguishes between going "back" in the navigation hierarchy and dismissing a modal, e.g. "Cancel".

There is absolutely a filesystem. Technically there's always been a filesystem, of course, but since iOS 11 there's been the Files app, which is effectively a file manager. That's arguably when the lack of "generic" USB drive access got substantially more annoying: the UX is basically right there at this point.

Poweruser oriented touch apps are going to have non-trivial learning curves, regardless of how well something in particular is signposted.

I take the point that the quoted paragraph from the App Store is indeed notable, but not that it indicates a major iOS snafu, with some kind of big win just there for the taking.

This is a really great point, most of my friends still don't use half of the features exist currently. I have no idea how you'd go about messaging that to users.

That's where a menu bar shines: it allows you to browse for and discover new functions. Sure, most people still won't use most of those. But at least you have a realistic chance of finding them.

Of course this is not unique to menu bars, they just happen to be one established way to squeeze a lot of functions into a tight places. For a touch interface, we may want different ways to do that; but I'd argue that it's still crucial to provide non-hidden, discoverable ways to access all functions of your app.

Unlike Gruber, I do think iOS needs a menu bar, or something similar. Maybe on iPad only due to size constraints. Something optional for apps (not every app needs one), hidden by default (something you can invoke with some gesture), that includes common commands (like text selection commands, undo and redo, etc) and eventually expandable with Shortcuts. At least one thing besides the keyboard and text input that is common between apps.

Actually, he never says that he does not think iOS needs a menu bar. He just says "I’m not arguing that iOS should have a Mac-style menu bar." which makes sense, because doing so would distract from the core of his criticism -- adding a menu bar is only one possible way to address it. And there is a footnote on that sentence, too, which suggests that in a sense, Apple is already having a (bad) fake menu in their iWorks apps...

Am iPhone X 256GB with Apple Care is 1400 GBP (1780 in USD), and way more if you're not paying upfront. I really don't want to shake it for any reason.

Why though? Phones (like tablets and most modern notebooks) don't have any moving parts.

If you're worried that the rapidly changing acceleration loosens some screws, then you better leave that phone right at home because running to catch the bus (with the phone in your pocket) produces about the same acceleration patterns.

It's more about the chances of it slipping out of your grip, like an overenthusiastic Wiimote.

Exactly as the other poster said: I have Applecare, but I don't actually want to file a claim and be without my phone while it's repaired for the sole reason of "I shook a phone when I was tired and it flew out of my hand".

The iPhone SE, at least, rattles when you shake it. The internet tells me this is normal, and it's not the only iPhone which does this.

Shaking a 11” ipad pro is not fun either

iPads have dedicated undo and redo button on their keyboards. It's even in the article.

But that usually only helps for text editing (it's even in the article ;-)

Undo is an art and Google has been practicing it for awhile on Android.

Out of curiosity (I haven't used Android in quite some time, and even then only cursory): does Android (resp. Google) have a good solution for uniform Undo in phone apps? How does it work?

The back button has been around for awhile now, but only steps back one page/view. While I don't use iOS, Ikd equate it to the swipe left-to-right gesture to go back


Ergonomics. Text that does not require much horizontal back-and-forward movement of the eyes is easier to read than super wide-set text. Gruber has long talked about typography so I’d guess it’s deliberate.

1452 ergonomics.

Nearly every time I use my SO's phone, I tap the non-existent back button to the right of Home, then curse at Apple.

Meh. On most non-Samsung Android devices, the back button is on the left. I really don't know why Samsung swapped the buttons around.

Old Android had the back button on the right. Google fixed that mistake on Android 4.0, but Samsung chose to keep the old order.

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