Few niggling UI shortcomings of the iPhone

Yes, I am now among the ecstatic legions with an iPhone – if my Samsung had not managed to last so long I would have jumped long ago. And now I’m as happy as all those other souls.

After 10 days of use, though, I have noticed a few small but surprising shortcomings in the otherwise killer UI:

  • No cut-and-paste of text. Given that this is the best-known shortcoming, I can’t believe it hasn’t been addressed yet.
  • No ability to highlight text and then delete it. You can only backspace it out. Really limits text editing.
  • No reordering of information for a contact. Phone numbers (work, home, mobile) not only appear in random order after a sync with Outlook (apparently a sync issue), but there’s no way to reorder them (drag and drop does not work). What would fix both problems is the ability to set a default order for contact info and have every contact use it, so it’s consistent throughout. I just dialed someone’s fax number because it was the first on the list, where I expected their mobile to be.
  • No ability to see the exact number of a recent incoming call. Given that this was the only option my old Samsung offered (it wouldn’t show the contact name on the received calls list), I was very surprised to find out that the iPhone does the opposite: it lists the contact name, but not the number. So if the contact has a landline and a mobile, you can’t find out which one they just tried you on – you just have to guess. (Update 2009-03-11: I learned via a comment that the iPhone does highlight the number the contact used on the page displayed when you click the blue arrow next to the name on the recent calls list. However on some iPhones this highlight is red, whereas on mine it is blue, which was too subtle for me to notice and understand what it meant. I’d like the ability to control this highlight color in preferences.)
  • No ability to edit a contact off the recent calls list. Especially when you are first using a phone, you want to be able to add contact info for a call you just received. You can do this if the caller is not in your contact list yet. But if the caller IS already in your contact list…no dice. You are forced to switch to the Contacts app and look up the contact again there. Not intuitive at all (but, like cut-and-paste, probably has to do with apps not being able to talk to one another?)

’nuff said. Doesn’t make me rave about the iPhone any less. Just makes me want perfection to be even more perfect.


About Drummond Reed

Internet entrepreneur in identity, personal data, and governance frameworks
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7 Responses to Few niggling UI shortcomings of the iPhone

  1. Eve M. says:

    Hi Drummond! We must have gotten our iPhones at practically the same moment. May you use yours in good health (as my mother would say).

    I hadn’t even found some of the niggles you’ve pointed out here, so it’s good to know them beforehand. I’m with you on generally appreciating the new toy, but have also been keeping a list of issues…

    Pleasant surprises after many years on Treos (and before that, plain old Palm PDAs stretching back to 1996 — when hunting for my phone at home I still say “Where’s my Pilot?” :-):

    – Handheld and desktop both support setting multiple alarms on events
    – The process for getting apps is wicked easy, even seductive
    – Mailboxes and Safari bookmarks all come along for the ride

    Unpleasant surprises:

    – Can’t set arbitrary alarms on iPhone calendar events, only pick from a list — what’s with that?

    – No native shared handheld/desktop notebook

    If it weren’t for OmniFocus (or similar) on the iPhone, I wouldn’t have even gotten it — you can’t be a Treo killer if you don’t have notes *and* you don’t have a task list.

    • Thanks, Eve – I’ve starting checking out OmniFocus and it looks very powerful. I used to use Ecco Pro and swore by it – this looks very similar.

  2. Lode says:

    You can in fact see which number someone just called you with, by clicking on the little blue arrow next to the contact. The number he used will be highlighted in red. Also, just tapping the name will call back on that same number.

    • Lode, you’re absolutely right — except the reason I didn’t notice it is that on my iPhone the number is highlighted in blue, not red, which was not enough to signal that there was anything special about it (I thought it was just random, similar to the random order in which the numbers are displayed for each contact).

      Thanks for pointing this out. One down, four to go.

  3. Jason says:

    Re: “No ability to edit a contact off the recent calls list”

    In the recent calls list, if you again click the Blue Arrow in an item that is just a phone number (for obvious reasons this doesn’t happen for contact calls and unknown number calls), you have two options:

    Create New Contact
    Add to Existing Contact

    Create New Contact will give you a blank Contact that you can fill everything into, where Add to Existing Contact will only require you to classify the number (home, work, mobile, other).

    • Jason, thanks for the info. I know the functionality to add a new contact – or, as you explain, to add a new number to an existing contact – is there. What’s missing is the ability to edit an existing contact, i.e., if John Doe calls me on one of the numbers I’ve already got for him in my Contact list, I can’t just click the blue arrow and then otherwise edit his Contact record, i.e., add an email address or a note. All it would take is for an Edit button to show up on that screen showing the contact info, just like it does when you access the same screen in the Contacts application, but for some reason that Edit button isn’t there when you navigate to the screen via the Recent Calls list.

  4. Joyce says:

    Re: No ability to see the exact number of a recent incoming call.

    Hello, not sure if you’ve figured this out yet or not, but I thought I would share it with you. The number is highlighted blue if you answered the call, and red when you missed it.

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