UI/UX — MONEY Magazine takes a big step backwards in user-experience on the iPad, and so I’ve unsubscribed.

Previously, MONEY Magazine attempted to deliver a version of their magazine for the iPad that reflected an understanding of how text is best read on such devices, and attempted to take advantage of user interactivity.

For example, It was possible to navigate an edition’s content via pull-up menus on the leader screen of each of the magazine’s four main departments:

And article text was presented in a single, scrollable column:

This all made for an effective and efficient reading experience, in the context of the iPad.

Unfortunately, in the latest issue, MONEY has gone back five years in time, and moved to the unusable approach of presenting the magazine on the iPad as a direct replication of the physical magazine. Articles are presented in magazine-style tiny columns that can hardly be read without pinch-zooming, and—incredibly—there’s not even a way to directly navigate the content.

I can only imagine that this was done in the interest of saving on production costs, but at least in my case, MONEY has shot themselves in the foot — as I just canceled my subscription.

Inconsistencies and irritations in Mac OS X Photos

Just wanted to document a number of additional annoyances I’ve run across in using Photos.app on Mac OS X.

No feedback when violating sharing constraints

I’ve selected all the photos in an album, and would like to upload them to Facebook. Clicking the Share icon, here’s what I see — no Facebook!

I probably spent 20 minutes trying to track down how I’d somehow messed up my Mac’s Facebook account configuration. After finally confirming that Facebook is properly configured on the machine, I then turned my attention back to Photos, and ultimately figured out the problem — Photos limits you to sharing a maximum of 50 photos at a time to Facebook.

Selecting less than 50 photos and clicking the Share icon, Facebook reappears:

Heavy sigh. Whether this limitation comes from Facebook, or somewhere else, it would be useful if the Photos UI would somehow communicate that I’ve violated a Facebook sharing constraint, rather than simply hiding the option.

Inconsistencies in share processing

Here’s what happens when I share photos to Flickr — After configuring and confirming the sharing modal, Photos.app spawns a progress window, and let’s me get back to working in the app.

Now, here’s what happens when I share photos to Facebook — After configuring and confirming the sharing modal, the modal remains active while uploading — blocking continued usage of the app and providing no information at all about the state of progress.

In fact, the first time I experienced this, I just assumed that the app had gotten stuck, force-quit it, only to later discover 20 or so photos had been uploaded to Facebook!

I can’t think of any reason for the difference in share handling between Flickr and Facebook, but the inconsistency is certainly confusing.

End botched training data with auto-stop on loop

This morning, when my wife and I took off on our trail run, I started my exercise timer app. A few hours later, we returned to the starting point, got in the car and drove home. Pulling into the garage, as often happens, I realized that once again I’d forgotten to stop the timer at the end of our run.

Yet another set of recorded training data messed up.

Whether it’s Strava or RunKeeper on my iPhone, or my Garmin Forerunner device, this problem happens so often that it got me wondering about possible solutions. Since the great majority of my routes—whether running, hiking or biking—start and stop at the same location, this particular problem could be solved if GPS device and app makers added a simple “looping auto-stop” setting that automatically stopped the timer whenever I returned to my starting point.

So simple, yet effective! I’m going to forward this article to the folks at Garmin and Strava, in hopes they’ll add this feature to their products. And if you like the idea, maybe you can do the same.

(Of course, it’d need to be an optional setting, to allow these devices and apps to be used in multi-lap events.)

Those unintended consequences of usability improvements

Both my Jeep Wrangler and Toyota iQ introduced usability improvements that have some unfortunate consequences.

When I switch my Jeep off, its headlights remain on for about 30 seconds. Presumably this was done under the assumption that you’d appreciate the lights in a dark garage, as you make your way to the door.

While that may be nice for people in North America living in big homes with garages, it has had the following consequences for me:

  • Hardly an instance of public parking goes by without some bystander shouting to me, “Hey buddy, you left your lights on!”, after which I feel obligated to explain that, “it’s a feature”.
  • I’m never quite sure myself whether I actually turned the lights off or not. And so, inevitably, I end up delaying my departure from the vehicle for the 30 seconds or so it takes to confirm that the lights are actually off. (And you can imagine that bystanders find that—a guy staring at his car, with its lights on—equally odd.)

The Toyota has a key-less entry system such that if I’m simply in proximity of the car, and in possession of the key, the doors will automatically unlock if I attempt to open them. While nice, it makes confirming that the doors are actually locked a bit difficult.

Here’s how that usually works:

I get out of the car and lock the driver-side door. Then I try to open the door, to confirm that it’s locked. But because I’m physically near the car and in possession of the key, the door automatically opens. With a sigh, I lock it again, walk away from the car, and then ask somebody else to try to open the door.

(My friend’s Volkswagen solves this problem by additionally retracting the side mirrors, allowing you to visually confirm that the car is locked.)

The Toyota has some other irritations, like sounding the seatbelt alarm when I place my computer bag in the passenger seat. But I think that’s more related to regulations, than attempts at improving automobile usability.