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A Tale of Serendipity: iPhone Shortcuts & Bicycles

Recently, I found myself riding a rented bicycle down by the Santa Monica Pier. In an instant, as I rode behind my girlfriend, I realized I wanted to snap a picture of her. The picture would include the shadows of the underpass which played such a stark contrast against the fast approaching sun kissed beach path. I had to have that picture and it was out-of-the-question that we stop and pose it. That’s where the brilliance of the user experience design applied to the iPhone enfolds this story. Within a matter of about 3 seconds, I was able to accomplish the following left-handed, while continuing to pedal and steer my bike:

1) hit the wake-up button, i.e., Home button
2) swipe up on the camera icon shortcut that appears on the lock screen
3) frame my shot
4) snap my picture

Without the design including a shortcut to the camera in the lock screen, I would not have been able to capture my photo. The UX designers at Apple predicted my situation, probably by developing personas during the design process, and by conducting user tests. For this, I tip my hat to them and say "great f*cking job, you’ve made me a happy man".

bicycling under the Santa Monica Pier

iPhone shortcuts help us capture serendipitous moments

bicycling and iPhone shortcuts

iPhone's brilliant UX design allows us to use the camera while biking

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Honda UI defeats Audi UI — with a Shortcut

One simple user interface (UI) feature that Honda has built into its car audio system has increased its ease of use and thus made it safer: the instant-on shortcut for powering up the radio. It's a very simple shortcut that allows the user to skip having to hit the POWER ON button to get started listening to the radio. The POWER ON button is still there, and I actually used it for years before realizing the shortcut existed in my Honda Fit. For comparison, I tested a 2012 Audi to see if the shortcut also exists in that car's stereo interface; it does not.

Noteworthy is how the architecture for the navigation changes when the shortcut is introduced. No longer do we have the POWER ON button being the supreme ruler over the other functions; rather, it has to share the leadership with roll with the AM/FM shortcut function. (see Diagram, below)

Honda Audio Navigation Hierarchy

Honda Audio Navigation's Shortcut is Makes the User Inputs More Democratic