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Aesthetics over Information = Confusion

Last night a buddy texted an invite to dinner, but because I had been in the library earlier, I had silenced my iPhone, and didn’t notice for a while.

Just how long a while was remains a mystery to me, because I immediately sent a query back, and as soon as I hit Send, the Messages app deleted the timestamp from his text.

(It was a moot point, because I was already retired for the evening, getting my fix of Person of Interest, but it was still frustrating.)

I understand the desire to simplify the display of messages and make it look more pleasant, but the scope of the removal goes too far, because it removes critical context from the conversation.

This all-or-nothing approach satisfies Apple’s desire for elegance, and makes it easier to follow conversations without being distracted by ugly, repetitive timestamps, but the complete elimination of the data is inexcusable.

I can imagine a couple of solutions that fall short of complete removal that would still be visibly and operationally elegant.

  1. Show the timestamp for any individual SMS when you tap it with your finger.
  2. Show all timestamps for a while (a minute?) whenever you tap the screen and scroll back in the message history. (Their display could then fade out to nothing after a minute or so of no manual scrolling.)

This is the type of elegance I expect from Apple, and I’m just a little disappointed in them.

Posted in Design, iPhone, SMS, Telephones, Usability.


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