More Complaints About iPad Mobile Safari

I’d like to extend my iPad Mobile Safari Bitchfest with a few more usability gripes. Cripes, did * anybody* give Mobile Safari a real usability test on the iPad?

Bookmarks Bar

Similarly to a major navigation action being focused on a tiny button in the corner of the device’s ample screen, the Bookmarks Bar is laughably bone-headed for having come from a spit-and-polish company like Apple. The bar is way too small. I’m constantly hitting the empty area of a new page (which stupidly closes the bookmarks bar) or I’m hitting one of the navigation/control buttons above the bookmarks bar. I have fairly average fingers, so I weep for the fat-fingered using this thing. It’s like a cruel game of Operation … don’t touch the sides!

Yes, I’m fully aware of the narcissism implied by having a bookmark to my own site as the first quick link in my bookmarks bar. Shut up.

Solution: First, increase the height of the bookmarks bar so there’s enough “finger room” below the main navigation controls (there’s plenty of room on a blank page, guys). Second, don’t close the bar when the empty page area is tapped.

Site Certificates

Is it me, or does Mobile Safari simply refuse to remember that you’ve accepted a site’s SSL certificate (fifty million times)? I can understand if this is some draconian enforcement of “user protection” but how about an option to remember the decision so I can take responsibility for my own security? I’m a biggie boy and I understand my own server uses a shared certificate that cannot be verified … but I trust me implicitly, so it’s not a problem, really.

Solution: Either remember the decision or give me an option to remember it for that site. I biggie boy!

HTTP Authentication

I’m referring to the microscopic dialog that pops up asking for user name and password on password-protected pages (not the ones built into the page). There are two problems here: stored login info and user interface design.

Stored Info

I asked Safari to remember my user names and passwords. Why can’t it do so for HTTP authentication? I understand the need to kill the authentication the moment the browser page is closed. Fine, but include HTTP authentication in the “remember my login info” feature! Let me choose every time to use that or to enter alternate information. It’s really not that tough and would save me typing the same thing again and again for protected pages I use regularly, but wish to log out of.

Solution: Obviously, I’d like this to work like the login panels that are built into the pages themselves. Specifically, I want to be asked to use saved login information or let me specify new information.

User Interface

Look at this shit. Guys. Really? Really?

Tapping in the user name field isn’t too difficult (if you’re careful, you can hit it the first time). Tapping outside the dialog doesn’t cancel, mercifully, though I wouldn’t have been surprised, given the issues about which I bitched above. The problem occurs when you try to tap the password field. Since there’s no “previous field / next field” buttons on the pop-up keyboard, you’re forced to tap the fields directly to select them. Can you guess (or have you experienced) what usually happens next? If you guessed that 99% of the time, you end up hitting Cancel or Log In instead of selecting the password field, you’re a goddamn genius. Go work for Apple.

Solution: As a stop-gap measure, I think the first iPad update should include the previous/next field navigation buttons found *everywhere else in the UI. The real solution, however, is a nicer, iPad-sized dialog and field navigation buttons.

Elsewhere …

After only a week with the iPad, I can say I’m hooked (and so can my coworkers, friends, and family). I can also say Apple didn’t seem to have enough time to polish everything. I’m lookin’ at you, Mail.app!1

Just remember, Apple: I only pick on the products I love. Well, that’s not true … I pick on them more. I just save the really nasty shit for the products I hate.


1 – Why is Undo two strokes away in the keyboard and not in the compose window’s toolbar? Where’s my Undo button, man? Why you messin’ with me, man? Where is it, huh? Why you holdin’ out on me? Don’t hold out on me, man!

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