Freitag, 30. Oktober 2009

Possible iPhone slide to unlock usability enhancement

Update on 2 Dec 2010: Just found out that Sony Ericssons Xperia x10 actually has an ergonomic slide to unlock area. Yay!

Did you ever try to place a call with your iPhone while carrying your notebook?

Did you ever receive a call on your iPhone when carrying your meal?
It's not so easy to unlock the iPhone or accept that call while being only in possession of one hand, right?!
And also while it is possible to just do that little slide with only the thumb of the very hand also holding the iPhone, it is just not very convenient. Feels more like having played F1 Race on a Game Boy for the last 4 hours than using a phone designed by a company known for its excellence in creating products with an extraordinary usability.
When looking at a sequence of images about unlocking an iPhone with one hand, one can see, that the problem actually seems that the thumb itself needs to be bended too much to stay within the slider area:

The reason for this is that hitting the slider area implies moving the finger in a straight line, which is just not a natural movement for the thumb. A wipe movement in a curvy line is much easier to accomplish and also feels more natural:

So one possibility to improve unlocking with one hand would be realigning the slider area from a straight line (see "traditional" in image below) to a slightly bended line (see "thumb-friendly" in image below):

Realigning the slider area has one major drawback though: the background image gets overlayed by it. While I would still favor that approach and also would be willing to have my background image overlayed with a semi-transparent slider area, but I know that many of you will disagree with that, so the logical continuation of my approach to improve the slider usability is using a slider "knob" which can be dragged freely over they iPhone's display in any direction and with any bending:

As soon as the knob has been dragged far enough from its initial position this will unlock the iPhone (or accept a call certainly). This would maximize the ergonomics of the movement, as people with different hand sizes and/or different likes in thumb movement can choose the one which is the most natural to them.

To carry that thought a bit further, this could even allow for unlocking the iPhone not via entering a pass phrase or some numbers, but only by dragging the knob in a previously defined gesture:

Are these ideas feasible? Any additions? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!