October 18, 2011

iOS 5 for tots: Quick pro/con

I want Robert Shaw from Jaws to describe my morning as he would a shark attack: “Up comes a reminder on the iPad and the Netflix stops streamin’, and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’…” Yeah, it got ugly. (Sorry, other conference call participants.)

Good news, though: You can now go into Settings->Notifications, find the Calendar app, and set the notification type from Alert (which interrupts the video) to Banner.  Now our guys can watch their morning Mighty Machines without going ballistic when it pauses.

On the downside, here’s an intriguing little bit of usability research: Finn is often generating four-finger “swipes” (new in iOS 5 for switching apps) when simply trying to drag on the screen. While coloring in lines in the aforementioned Harold, he’d push hard and his little knuckles would register as multitouch swipes.  Thus he’d start switching apps, bringing up the list of apps, etc.  Who knew?

As always, I pine for Apple to introduce multi-user support in iOS.  Now in the kids’ profile I’ll add “disabling global swipe gestures” to “making it harder to exit the app via the Home button,” “disallow scary stuff on YouTube,” etc.

Update: Double who-knew: BubCap home button covers “are just rigid enough to keep toddlers from pressing the home button, yet flexible enough that adults can activate the button with a firm push.” [Via Iván Cavero Belaunde]

Posted by John Nack at 2:43 PM on October 18, 2011

Comments

  • josh d — 4:24 PM on October 18, 2011

    pro tip: you can turn off 4-finger swipe gestures in Settings > General > Multitasking Gestures,

    [Thanks, but I quite like that capability in general. It's only when the kids are using the device (or maybe just certain apps) that I'd like to turn it off. --J.]

  • josh d — 5:05 PM on October 18, 2011

    Agreed, I like the gestures. Double pro tip: buy a second iPad for yourself :)

  • wth — 6:35 AM on October 19, 2011

    Allowing small children to play around with a £500 device is beyond crazy.

    [I take it you don't have any such children. For us use of the tablet is a fun, communal daily ritual: each morning the boys storm into our room requesting "Truck videos!," after which we spend time exploring YouTube clips together. Other times (e.g. yesterday morning) I set up the tablet for little Netflix sessions, letting them watch 20-30 minutes here and there. There's a wealth of educational, entertaining stuff (e.g. Mighty Machines). --J.]

  • Rob — 6:54 AM on October 19, 2011

    John, I’ve always loved your blog, so it’s exciting to see you mention BubCaps. Please contact me if you’d like a pack!

    As far as Multitouch Gestures go, they seem really useful, but they aren’t compatible with youngsters and some apps. I think Apple should add a setting that allows users to designate apps that will ignore gestures (rather than the blanket on or off setting).

  • Stephen Shankland — 2:31 AM on October 21, 2011

    In general I find the single-user assumption of iOS to be really annoying (and also the weak user-switching abilities of Mac OS). In particular, for game profiles and status, it’s really weak.

    I do have low-grade dystopian anxiety that user accounts and profiles will lead Apple to move to per-user charges for apps, the way Kindle and iTunes purchases are per-user. There already are separate Apple IDs for iTunes, and Apple IDs are getting more important with iMessage, which is linked to user identity not group identity.

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