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user interface (UI) issues

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Apple, Other
I just updated my iPhone 6 Plus from 10.3.3 to 11.4, and it seems to me that there is now no way to toggle Night Shift from Control Center. Am I correct, or am I missing something?
 







Tap and hold the brightness control and Night Shift and True Tone options will appear.
Yup - tap and hold on the flashlight icon, and you can change the brightness of the flashlight. Even though the in-box included "user brochure" is just about useless, I found the iPhone user guide to be pretty good. If you've got to seek the hidden features, it's good to have a map to do it.
 


Dan Hamilton

Moderator
As part of the discussion of "hide and seek" functions in iOS, I came across one this morning that might be of use. In iOS 11.4, two fingers on the iPad screen keyboard lets me move the insertion cursor quite precisely and spreading those fingers allows moving the selection handles, arguably the biggest PITA for my fat fingers when trying to edit on this device.

Unfortunately, this hidden trick does not work on my iPhone 8.
 





As part of the discussion of "hide and seek" functions in iOS, I came across one this morning that might be of use. In iOS 11.4, two fingers on the iPad screen keyboard lets me move the insertion cursor quite precisely and spreading those fingers allows moving the selection handles, arguably the biggest PITA for my fat fingers when trying to edit on this device.

Unfortunately, this hidden trick does not work on my iPhone 8.
On your iPhone 8 you use Force Touch on the keyboard to do the same thing. Has been that way since Force Touch came out.
 




A long-press presents the magnifying glass for precision cursoring. That's been in iOS for quite a long time now. But I don't know if that's the same thing Dan was referring to with his two-finger iPad gesture.
 


Dan Hamilton

Moderator
A long-press presents the magnifying glass for precision cursoring. That's been in iOS for quite a long time now. But I don't know if that's the same thing Dan was referring to with his two-finger iPad gesture.
Nope. Your fingers in 3D stay on the keyboard, which goes blank to simulate a trackpad.

More discovery: if you want to move the cursor but avoid selecting anything, be sure to start moving those two fingers right away. To make the selection handles available, press and hold the fingers in one spot until they appear.
 


...I wish Apple would get the memo that hide-and-seek is best left on the playground...
Maybe we should send them a memo? A MacInTouch no-more-hide-and-seek petition?

One of my "favorite" hide-and-seek features is the search field in Safari's Sidebar Bookmarks list (see it there on your left?). I think it was close to a year before I found where they hid that.
 


A long-press presents the magnifying glass for precision cursoring. That's been in iOS for quite a long time now. But I don't know if that's the same thing Dan was referring to with his two-finger iPad gesture.
I have an SE (so no Force/3D touch). I knew about the precision cursor and the magnifying glass but I just noticed that if the keyboard is not showing, say in Notes, that a long-press will highlight whole words in a rectangular magnifier of sorts. Lifting your finger will present the selection tools, with the word selected, and the contextual menu for copying, etc.
Has that always (at least for several iOS iterations) been there?
 



Yup - tap and hold on the flashlight icon, and you can change the brightness of the flashlight. Even though the in-box included "user brochure" is just about useless, I found the iPhone user guide to be pretty good. If you've got to seek the hidden features, it's good to have a map to do it.
Near the end of the Say Hello to iPhone section of the website-based guide Chris found, is a topic called View this user guide on iPhone. This details how to bookmark and view the guide using Safari on your iPhone. It also describes how to view it with the iBooks app—View the user guide in iBooks. Open iBooks, tap Search, then enter “iPhone user guide.”

I followed this basic approach with iOS 10 and had a PDF book stored on-device so it could be read sans internet, which is very handy, given the 649 pages it contains! The iBooks app also provides for bookmarking and re-opens where you left off.

The guide is quite thorough and well presented with plenty of supporting graphics. So this fine manual takes the hide-n-seek out of the UI, leaving the user only to complain about counter-intuitiveness and lack of obvious visual clues... and too thin fonts and too much gray-on-gray and...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Near the end of the Say Hello to iPhone section of the website-based guide Chris found, is a topic called View this user guide on iPhone. This details how to bookmark and view the guide using Safari on your iPhone. It also describes how to view it with the iBooks app—View the user guide in iBooks. Open iBooks, tap Search, then enter “iPhone user guide." ... So this fine manual takes the hide-n-seek out of the UI...
But only after the hide-and-seek game needed to find the fine manual in the first place and get it onto your fine phone... where it will take up... a very tiny amount of space that, I dunno, might have been able to hold that manual from the get-go instead of making customers jump through a bunch of crazy, Internet-dependent hoops to find it and download it? What a mad concept!
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's more specific criticism about Apple's dysfunctional user interface designs:
Eliz Kılıç said:
How Apple can fix 3D Touch
I should start with the obvious. 3D Touch is broken! The user experience is far from great. Apple introduced 3D Touch and its new related interactions Peek and Pop in 2014. It’s been almost 4 years since its first introduction, yet people don’t know/use 3D Touch. Why would they? Even tech-savvy users don’t know which buttons offer 3D touch. Let alone regular users.

What would happen if we decide to make all links same color and style as the regular text?...
 


I speak more than one language and therefore read web pages in different ones. A lot of times, I have Apple's text-to-speech read a page to me. Most of the time, the page is in English, and it's not an issue. But sometimes the page is in German or Spanish, and the English voice just can't get that right, so I have to manually switch to a voice for that language.

Wouldn't it be so much easier if this would behave like Google and automatically figure out which language the page is in and switch to your preferred voice for that one before making a fool of itself?
 


DFG

Right when iOS is poised to introduce "dark mode", Adam Engst of TidBITS fame has an interesting article titled "The Dark Side of Dark Mode."

He analyzes the pros and cons of dark mode and comes down strongly in favor of light mode. I agree, and I happen to think that the Mac introduction in 1984 was a revelation: clear and crisp black-on-white text, like in a book, instead of pixelated phosphors on a black background. I never looked back.
 


He analyzes the pros and cons of dark mode and comes down strongly in favor of light mode. I agree, and I happen to think that the Mac introduction in 1984 was a revelation: clear and crisp black-on-white text, like in a book, instead of pixelated phosphors on a black background. I never looked back.
I currently use a 49" 4K TV as a monitor at home and a 43" 4K TV as a monitor at work. I'm very happy with them, except for the glaring spotlights of bright LED light they blast into my retinas. Our Macs are still on Sierra, so they're not dark-mode-enabled. Our Linux machines do offer a variety of dark modes, and it's a real help. Main issue on Linux is not the "desktop" itself, but how well applications interface with "dark mode." Some don't.

I remember the original Mac. Crisp black text on a white background. That's very different than LED-lit monitors that may be used for watching video as much as for typing. An optional dark mode really does help when playing video. That's the nature of the videos, which vary greatly in brightness internally and from video to video.
 


Right when iOS is poised to introduce "dark mode", Adam Engst of TidBITS fame has an interesting article titled "The Dark Side of Dark Mode." He analyzes the pros and cons of dark mode and comes down strongly in favor of light mode. I agree, and I happen to think that the Mac introduction in 1984 was a revelation: clear and crisp black-on-white text, like in a book, instead of pixelated phosphors on a black background. I never looked back.
I use Dark Mode on my MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014), even though I'm old enough to be eligible for Social Security and wear progressive lenses. I use that laptop mainly for watching movies while flying, where the darker interface is welcome, especially on night flights.

But I could never read text in Dark Mode, other than menu items and desktop icon labels. So I choose not to enable "Use dark backgrounds for messages" in the Viewing pane of Apple Mail preferences, for instance. The same with TextEdit, in which I've disabled "Use Dark Background for Windows" under the View menu item. That way, I get the best of both worlds, at least in my opinion.
 


I currently use a 49" 4K TV as a monitor at home and a 43" 4K TV as a monitor at work. I'm very happy with them, except for the glaring spotlights of bright LED light they blast into my retinas. Our Macs are still on Sierra, so they're not dark-mode-enabled. Our Linux machines do offer a variety of dark modes, and it's a real help. Main issue on Linux is not the "desktop" itself, but how well applications interface with "dark mode." Some don't. I remember the original Mac. Crisp black text on a white background. That's very different than LED-lit monitors that may be used for watching video as much as for typing. An optional dark mode really does help when playing video. That's the nature of the videos, which vary greatly in brightness internally and from video to video.
You might want to consider calibrating the displays, with an i1 Profiler or the like.
 


Right when iOS is poised to introduce "dark mode", Adam Engst of TidBITS fame has an interesting article titled "The Dark Side of Dark Mode."

He analyzes the pros and cons of dark mode and comes down strongly in favor of light mode. I agree, and I happen to think that the Mac introduction in 1984 was a revelation: clear and crisp black-on-white text, like in a book, instead of pixelated phosphors on a black background. I never looked back.
My favorite quote from Adam's article: "It may be hip and trendy, but put bluntly, Dark Mode likely makes those who turn it on slower and less productive."

Exactly. Apple has a compelling need for their products to be hip and trendy, when in the past under Steve, they were consistent and useful.
 


I have been using Dark Mode for several months but switched back to Light Mode after reading Adam's article, and, generally, I'm happy either way. The exception is programming in Xcode. I have defective colour vision, and syntax colouring works far better for me in Dark Mode than in Light Mode. I suspect that the contrast of dark text on light background neutralises the difference between the colours more than light colours on dark background. I've experimented with various themes, and will continue to do so, but the dark background seems easier to pick out the colours for me.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I suspect that the contrast of dark text on light background neutralises the difference between the colours more than light colours on dark background. I've experimented with various themes, and will continue to do so, but the dark background seems easier to pick out the colours for me.
There are millions of different variations possible in a design, and you could probably get as good a result from a light design as a dark one, depending on the details.

(There are several different light and dark styles/themes available here in this forum, although the default black-on-white one is recommended, fully supported, and optimal for most situations, but I'm always interested in feedback about them.)
 


... I have defective colour vision, and syntax colouring works far better for me in Dark Mode than in Light Mode....
There are millions of different variations possible in a design, and you could probably get as good a result from a light design as a dark one, depending on the details....
After some experimentation, utilising the semibold and bold weights makes the colours visible for me. I guess it goes back to the absurdly thin fonts that Apple chooses to use...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
After some experimentation, utilising the semibold and bold weights makes the colours visible for me. I guess it goes back to the absurdly thin fonts that Apple chooses to use...
That makes sense to me — when experimenting with alternate styles for this forum, I found that dark modes needed bolder text vs. light modes. (One would think that the high-design team at Apple would recognize and respond to issues like that....)
 


My aging eyes have floaters, and I find them more noticeable and annoying when reading on a white screen with black type than when reading on paper. After cataract surgery, I turned down screen brightness to make reading easier.
That makes sense to me — when experimenting with alternate styles for this forum, I found that dark modes needed bolder text vs. light modes.
I have not tried dark mode on screen, but I find it hard to read white type on black printed pages unless the white type is bold. I suspect we could learn some interesting things about human vision and how to optimize the presentation of type if someone systematically studied the reactions of people with different visual flaws under different situations. But I doubt anybody promoting the advantages of dark mode has done such research.
 


My aging eyes have floaters, and I find them more noticeable and annoying when reading on a white screen with black type than when reading on paper ... I find it hard to read white type on black printed pages unless the white type is bold.
I'm currently on a Linux Mint NUC connected to a 43" Sony 4K TV as a primary monitor (set at 1920 x 1080) and an Asus WQHD 27" rotated 90 degrees (1680 x 1050). I'm using as much dark theme as I can. My work G Suite Gmail is themed in Chrome with a black background and bold white text. And that's fine. Unfortunately, when an email opens, it opens bright white with black text. It's rather like opening the blinds in a darkened room and looking into the sunshine.

I'm still able to see Apple desktops on large monitors, and when Yosemite arrived I replaced the narrower, maybe greyer, UI font. But like everything else where I've tried to modify Apple's UI and / or software to my preferences and to accommodate my vision, every Apple update seems to wipe out the changes I made, and I just gave up trying.
 


(One would think that the high-design team at Apple would recognize and respond to issues like that....)
I'm guessing the "high-design team" at Apple is comprised of people under the age of 40 (maybe even younger?), who have not yet experienced the vision challenges they will have themselves in a few years.

However, I want to strongly appreciate the tremendous steps Apple has taken - and is taking again in Catalina - to help with "accessibility" issues. They've really done a lot. The control toggles for all those options have become almost daunting, but they do address a lot of accessibility issues.

I feel other developers of apps don't pay enough attention to these issues. I use apps with ridiculous light-gray-thin-tiny-non-adjustable-font-on-white, or light-green-thin-tiny-non-adjustable-font-on-white for menu controls and text which make using them difficult. (Wyze and Evernote are just a couple of examples, but there are lots more.)
 


If you want to truly see how Apple feels about their customers' eyesight, all you have to do is look at the back of any iDevice or Mac product and, without using a loupe or reading glasses, please read off the Serial Number or the Model Number of said product. It is an exercise in futility. It is the same reason that, as soon I receive and unpackage an Apple product, I make a photocopy of all the bar codes etc. on the box's identifying product label, making sure to enlarge the copy to 200%, for future reference. Please don't just automatically roll over and give Apple and Jony Ive et al accolades for improvement in "accessibility," when you can't even read off a serial number of an Apple product on its casing.
 


I'm no typographer, but the references I consulted, back when the Mac Plus and SE were what I got to use, all said to use bold type with white-on-black text. So it's not just old and feeble eyes which have trouble with it.
 


Kind of off on a tangent here but the comment about reading the model/serial number on an Apple product reminded me of my recent visit to the Genius Bar to deal with a stolen battery on an iPhone 6. The Genius needed to read the back of the iPhone and used the Magnifier feature on his own iDevice. You can find it in Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier.
 



"Dark Mode"? Jeez, I remember one of the big deals about the 1984 Macintosh (via Lisa) was that it put black print/images on a white background to make it more "natural" (i.e., print on paper). That was a reversal from the white (or green) on black (or amber) monitors that personal computer users inherited from the mainframe world. Sigh. "The more things change...."
 


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