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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13 Comments

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3.4 mil people in Lithuania, 4.7 active SIM cards, almost 29 billion SMS per quoter...

It just takes some time to get used to new things, the same with PC -> Mac, damn, I can't work with Windows keyboard after using Mac, nothing works here... At least it looks in this way after Mac...

Okay, just to clarify:

First, there was no typo in the 15 per week sentence; that's what User Centric defines as a frequent texter.

Second, this research report in no way implies or suggests that text entry is inferior on the iPhone, simply that users who have experience with other data entry methods may suffer a steeper learning curve than, say, someone brand new to texting in general. And, with generalizations, there are always exceptions.

After a quick read through, I noticed that this article could be interpreted in a way which might seem biased/based on unfounded claims, so I did quick update to make sure there was no misunderstandings.

I do about 15 a day and don't have any problems whatsoever. I love the keyboard on the iPhone, a lot better than my old BlackBerry or Razer. Two thumbs way up for Apple!

How would you read this and then ascertain that it's problematic to text on the iPhone? It reads to me like there is a 30 minute learning curve for texters with qwerty keyboard phones before they are up to full speed. What's 30 minutes for a device that you will use for 1+ year?

...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 the difference in time persisting for as long as 30 minutes.

...

Numeric-keyboard users, on the other hand, fared much better in the tests, composing messages equally quickly on the iPhone as their own phones.

Deron Dantzler said,
How would you read this and then ascertain that it's problematic to text on the iPhone? It reads to me like there is a 30 minute learning curve for texters with qwerty keyboard phones before they are up to full speed. What's 30 minutes for a device that you will use for 1+ year?

lol, this 'news' must be a joke

it states even after thirty minutes they hadn't got any better, thta tells me it takes longer than 30 minutes of texting to figure it out, and 30 mnutes of texting is a hell of a lot of text messages

it must be a typo...

however texting is no where near as popular in the US when compared to the UK, so it might be right! unlikely though

BGM said,
however texting is no where near as popular in the US when compared to the UK...

riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. You keep telling yourself that.

Seriously. User Centric = retarded. How about comparing people who are used to working on the SMS champ, the full blackberry (not numeric predictive) keyboard, versus the iPhone? THAT would be a statistic worth evaluating and reporting...not this meaningless drivel.

User Centric tested the iPhone's SMS features with frequent texters, individuals who send at least 15 messages at week,

err 15 messages per week = frequent texters ?

normally i do that in 1 day and it can go to 50 per day if i include the messages i do when working