Possibly Steep Learning Curve for iPhone Texting

According to Chicago-based usability consultancy User Centric, users new to Apple's much vaunted iPhone, but who have previous texting experience, may have difficulty adjusting to the phone's texting style, with its touchscreen described as "potentially problematic" for sending text messages. User Centric tested the iPhone's SMS features with frequent texters, individuals who send at least 15 messages per week, to see how rapidly they could adapt to the iPhone's touch keyboard; all texters either owned a phone with a full Qwerty keyboard or a numeric keyboard and had no previous experience with the iPhone. As part of the test, each participant typed six fixed-length text messages on their own phone and six on an iPhone; the results revealed that Qwerty-keyboard users took almost twice as long to compose messages on Apple's offering as compared to their own phone, with a minimal difference in composition time even after 30 minutes with the iPhone. "For Qwerty users, texting was fast and accurate. But when they switched to the iPhone, they were frustrated with the touch sensitive keyboard," said Jen Allen, a usability specialist at User Centric.

Numeric-keyboard users, on the other hand, fared much better in the tests, composing messages equally quickly on the iPhone as their own phones. User Centric accounts for the parity in composition speeds due to the inherent inefficiency of numeric texting, with users pressing individual number keys multiple times to get a desired letter or character to appear. Overall, there was no increase in efficiency despite the iPhone's corrective text approach, though this could be due to the fact that only seven participants figured out how to use the corrective text feature on their own, and all participants frequently selected keys that they had not intended.

Finally, to clarify, these findings are only a generalization of what some users may encounter upon attempting to send text messages with the iPhone. Although there may be an initial period of frustration, this report in no way states that the iPhone is somehow inferior to other phones after prolonged usage. As User Centric states, "our analysis suggests that both types [of keyboard users] will eventually adapt to the iPhone's features."

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View: Findings Report on User Centric

Update: Added Findings Report, revised title, and clarified article

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