iPhone doesn’t allow you to change the default hotspot name easily

Problem

We had a power outage at work and even though my work laptop has a battery but the wifi network needs electricity to work. After a few minutes of internet suffocation, I decided to share the internet on my iPhone and keep working. But it was then that I discovered iPhone wasn’t really built with the ambition of being in everybody’s hand. My company has an interesting policy of giving every employee an iPhone and apparently I wasn’t the only one who was sharing his phone’s internet. So I saw something like this when trying to connect my Mac to my iPhone:

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Everybody sharing their iPhone hotspot

Good for Apple, I felt like this:

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iPhone hotspots everywhere

So naturally I went to the most logical place to change the hotspot name to something customised in order to find it. But there’s no such settings:

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iPhone personal hotspot settings

There’s no such setting so the first thing I do after being connected to the Internet is search for how can it be done. Turns out you have to change your phone’s name in order to change the hotspot’s name. It may sound logical but is pretty limiting. See how HTC One allows you to choose your hotspot name (needless to say this opens up in hotspot settings where it belongs):

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HTC One hotspot settings

But for iPhone, you’re supposed to leave the hotspot settings, go to General > About and chance your phone’s name:

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iPhone 7 change name

A little unexpected but as a user put it “let down by apple yet again! i jailbroke my iphone 4 n installed an app called myWi it allows you to change ssid” (source).

The irony is that Apple is famous for paying attention to user experience but in practice there are many simple cases like this that are problematic.

Solution

Allow the users to edit their hotspot SSID name in the settings of Personal Hotspot.

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You can’t turn off the shutter sound in iPhone

Note: this article is a part of the series iOS issues.

Problem

There is no way to remove the shutter sound on an iPhone except putting the phone into silence mode! This makes a relation between two irrelevant features: your phone’s ring tone and notification sounds will be controlled by the same button that you are forced to use for shutting up the camera. If you take a photo in silent mode and forget to turn on the sound, you will probably miss your calls or notifications. If you remember to turn on the sound, you may take the next photo with the shutter sound.

A lot of people have this issue. And the only way they have found is to put the phone into silent mode. The main issue is using the same control for two different functions. This is a mapping problem.

Some people pointed out that phone companies have to embed the shutter sound by law in certain countries. Well the fact that they allow silencing it, is contradictory to this compliance.

Probably the reason is to make a sound so people will notice if you are taking a photo of them. But what if you are not taking a photo of them? From my personal experience, you’ll most probably annoy people around you when taking a photo. For example:

  • in a library you are taking a photo from a book title or magazine to read later
  • in the classroom when you want to take note from the whiteboard instead of wasting time re-writing it at the same time the teacher is teaching it
  • in the coffee shop when you want to take a photo from your receipt for archive reason
  • in your kids bedroom when you want to take a photo of your dearest while they are asleep
  • or just documenting a crime without taking getting attention or being a victim to it

There can be many other scenarios where you need to take a photo silently, but you can’t disable one of your phone’s core functionalities and remember to turn it on after that!

Solution

Add an option for turning off the camera shutter sound. Ideally with a drop down menu that allows changing the sound and silencing it.

iPhone annoys the user with repeated notifications

Problem

It’s not very easy to criticize Apple products. The 10-3-1 design process and paired design meetings managed to make Apple a user experience design phenomena even without market research! But even in these great products there are some problems that annoys the user. Recently I noticed a new group on Facebook called Apple – Stop Stealing my Attention founded by Anders Green, a PhD of Human Robot Interaction. At first I thought it’s a misunderstanding but joining a group with 30+ members I found out the cause:

When you receive an SMS on iPhone, it notifies you 2 times (by default). And this seems to annoy a handful of scientists and interaction designers at the group. I contacted the group manager and we exchanged a dozen of emails so that I can understand the problem (I don’t have an iPhone). It took another couple of days to find someone with an iPhone to be kind enough to send the screenshots in English language.

Apparently Apple designers decided to notify the user two times for every incoming SMS message. This can be quite annoying specially if you have read the SMS first time it came on the preview that appears on your lock screen. If your iPhone is on the desk (it’s the case with many office people), you just take a look at your iPhone’s screen when it glows after receiving an SMS showing a preview. Another issue is that after a while of using this 2 time notification feature, user gets used to it and when two consecutive SMS’s arrive, he may still think that it’s the second notification that he’s used to ignore.

It’s actually very easy to turn this double notification off, but apparently many people don’t get it and keep asking about it on various forums (there is even an eHow article for it!):

Let’s see what the configuration looks like. It’s in Settings > Notifications > Messages:

iphone sms notification

If you click on Repeat Alert, the following screen appears which allows you to set the frequency of the repeating alert:

iPhone (4S 5.1) repeated notification settings

 Not so hard, but apparently many non-expert users couldn’t find this. The main issue here is the 2 time notification. As you see in the screenshots, even the person who dedicated these photos has these settings on once rather than the default twice. By the way I’m curious to know why would people want to set it to 10 Times! ;-)

Solutions

First the obvious solution: assume once as the default instead of twice.

Second solution is a little bit more complicated to implement but a couple of people suggested that when I was asking their opinions if this notification is annoying. They said:

I read most of the SMS messages on the lock screen but iPhone has no way to know that I’ve read it so it notifies me again after a while even though I’ve read it. I would be glad if without unlocking the phone I could signal it that I’ve read the SMS. For example, if iPhone is on the table its accelerometers are still. Then when I pick up the phone to take a look at my SMS, it can sense that I have moved it and then interpret it as I’ve read my SMS on the preview screen. Another idea is that I can tap on the SMS in the lock screen to notify it that I’ve read the SMS and I’m not interested to be notified again.

And the third solution is something that HTC has used in its smart phones since years ago: when it receives an SMS, it audibly notifies the user. But then as long as the message is not read an LED keeps blinking on the phone. It’s not an annoying blink. The LED goes on for half a second and then it’s off for about 10 seconds, then again it does that. Smart, non-obtrusive and polite way of notifying the user. I’ve experienced this notification on my HTC Hero (Android) and HTC Touch Diamond (Windows Mobile 6.1).

Notes

I tried to inform Apple about this issue but since I don’t have an iPhone I was stopped here:

Contacting Apple support needs hardware serial number

Apparently Apple only accepts support query from owners of their products. I have an iPad, but honestly it’s too much work to type the serial number and then probably the site will complain that I provided the wrong serial number for iPhone. I’m not going to buy an iPhone to report this issue, but if any of the readers has an iPhone and is willing to contact Apple about it, here is the link to the support system.