Experiences on the Front Lines of User Interfaces and Web Development

It's the little things...

So Apple recently released an update to the iPhone 4.0 software (4.0.1), which came on the heels of the whole antenna fiasco with the iPhone 4, and I was pretty unimpressed by the 500+ megabytes of code that I just downloaded and put on my phone.

First of all, the only feature/bug fix listed in the update was "improves the formula to determine how many bars of signal strength to display." (Note that the real signal strength is still the same. Note that the hardware design that allows bad signal has not been fixed.)  But wait, they also updated the signal bar graphics so that the smallest bars are now taller.


One bandaid on top of another.

Apple genius 1: "AT&T service is awful. We have made it worse by allowing a user to drop the already weak signal just by holding it naturally."
Apple genius 2: "I have an idea. Let's update the formula so that it rarely shows 0 or 1 bar and claim it is more accurate."
Apple genius 3: "Great! But we know AT&T is so bad users will still see just 1 bar pretty often. Let's tweak the graphics so it looks bigger! They will psychologically feel better because they have been trained for the last decade that a bar that is almost as high as the 3rd or 4th bar means you have really good signal."
Apple geniuses 1 & 2: "Yes.. excellent."

Now, personally I have not had any problems with signal quality or dropped calls, and am happy with my phone and AT&T's service.. so I haven't really worried about this whole issue, but I find it fascinating that Apple's response to all the problems with the "death grip" is to give everyone a free case and then "fix" the signal strength formula so that you see 0 or 1 bar less often. But that won't fix people's problems that can't make a phone call.  And I think it's a really cheap trick to update the signal bar graphics. For one I feel that they are attempting to dupe the general population that don't notice small details and subtle UI design changes.  But also, I don't like that the shape of the signal bars now don't match other phones.  It's not the neat, symmetrical triangle of bars that I am used to and grown up with on my phones for years.  My eyes keep following the bars down and to the left, trying to see the rest of the graphic, but it just abruptly stops!

I'm sure Jobs and the Apple team thought they were being clever and just helping out the users see that last tiny bar on their high resolution displays.  But I would rather see them focus their efforts on pushing AT&T to get more bars in more places, and without any more changes to the formula.
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