DYJ4U on iOS Autocomplete: a Response

Jason Clauß, self-described “UX Renegade,” recently published an article on the iOS keyboard’s suggestion bar: Doing Your Job For You: The iOS autocomplete. I have some thoughts.

I strongly disagree with the conclusions Clauß draws. They’re based on his own “cursory research;” I am certain that Apple has done a fair bit more than that. But I also think he’s just wrong about the new design creating a clearer emphasis around the center word. New: the same font color as the other words, with a 20% background contrast, versus old: a different (classically active, as in links) font color, with a 25% background contrast? That is less emphasis, not more.

The fact that the new design is less eye-catching, rather than more (as he wants), tells me that that sort of emphasis is distracting for the user, not useful. Which makes sense–the goal of autocorrect is for it to “just work;” the more attention you have to pay to the suggestions bar, the less that goal is being met. It’s fair to ask whether that goal is being achieved, but it’s clear that Apple is trying to make it so people just don’t need to perform the context switching that Clauß wants to make easier.

Fundamentally this strikes me as a remarkable misread of Apple’s design philosophy. Ask yourself, what seems like a more Apple-y end goal? A future in which the autocorrection and suggestion works so well that you don’t even need to see a suggestion bar, as the right words just appear at the right times in response to your poor typing? Or a future in which the suggestion bar is hyper-prominent, and it’s really simple to choose which word you need at any time? Historically Apple prefers to give a user fewer choices, not more.

This may seem catty, but I can’t help but think Clauß composed this whole argument without making the contrast comparison, realized that the new design is actually lower contrast, but went ahead and hit publish anyway.

About Joel Kin

Developing on Apple platforms for, holy shit, like twenty years now. Find me on linkedin and twitter. My personal website is joelk.in.
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