Wednesday, April 15, 2020

UX gripe blog - Apple's iPhone PIN entry screen

So in the Age of COVID, it's almost a bummer that Apple leaned so hard into facial recognition, when everyone feels a bit safer behind a mask. (Of course, I suppose they could be wearing gloves too, but that's not quite as common.) PIN unlock becomes more necessary, and the flaws in Apple's implementation become more obvious:

First, is the lack of haptic feedback. People want to type in PINs in a hurry - both so any onlookers don't get an eyeful, and just because it's annoying! But then, it's easy to miss a beat and only enter 5 numbers when 6 were called for... I think it would be an obvious place for a confirming haptic bump as each number gets registered, but Apple doesn't agree.

And in that "I only hit 5 numbers" scenario-  most people will want to hit delete and start from scratch because they aren't sure which one was missed... so if they just start jamming on the Delete link in the lower right corner, if they hit that area one too many times, the "Delete" becomes "Cancel", and the PIN entry slides away.

So that's some Bad UX! The user is clearly annoyed, trying to just open their dang phone, and Apple's (presumably inadvertent) interpretation of "I entered most of the numbers, then hit Delete a lot" is that the user changed their mind, and want to give up unlocking their device.

UPDATE: I've been thinking about if I judged this too harshly. The trick to happier usage of it is to press one more button, get it "wrong", and then all the numerals will clear out for another try.

Also, Kudos to Apple for doing an update that recognizes a mask faster, and offers to switch to PIN that much sooner.

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