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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Yamaha keyboard has only 1 button to explore 17 functions

Problem

Yamaha YPT-220 just like many similar keyboards from Yamaha has one important button called “Function” (see picture below). It should actually be labeled “settings” or “configure” or “options” because it sets various parameters to control how the keyboard works. This is the single most important button in the user interface of this device after the power button.

Everytime the user presses this button, the name of the current parameter appears in the monochrome LCD screen and the user can use the + and – button to set the parameter or press + and – together to reset the value of the parameter to its factory default.

Unfortunately it is very hard to use this type of setting. First of all there is a mapping problem. Different settings are all under the same button. There is also a navigation problem. User doesn’t know what is the next option coming when the “Function” button is pressed. In Yamaha YPT-220 there are 17 different options that can be set using this button:

If the user passes one desired option on mistake, he has to press the “Function” button 16 more times to reach that menu again! Moreover if he wants to set a specific parameter like “Panel Sustain”, he has to press the “Function” button repeatedly and every time read the LCD display carefully not to pass that menu. In other words the setting navigation doesn’t show a big picture of the current location. Of course the user can memorize these 17 items, but is it really a reasonable expectation from the designers?

One reason for this mess is because unlike digital interfaces, adding a new button to a device physically makes it more expensive. Yamaha designers probably wanted to keep the production price low and have a minimal user interface.

Solution

Here are a few possible alternatives to solve the navigation and mapping problem:

1. The simplest one is to add a list of parameters on the body of the keyboard. There are already 3 lists there: songs, voices and styles. There is empty space on the left side of the display that can be used for this purpose and the “Function” button better be replaced near this list and be called “Settings”. It’s good to color code the header just like the other lists. See the mockup below:

2. There can be one button for each option. This is the best option from the mapping point of view but is 17 times more expensive. It is not very flexible from the software perspective. If in the future a new parameter is added to the software, a new button should be added physically to support this interaction model. Moreover it is not a minimalist design.

3. When holding the “Function” button, user can browse through options using + and – keys. This is not very intuitive because + and – at the same time are used for adjusting the value of the parameters. But it solves the annoying button-presses to reach a menu you have already passed.

Note

I tried to contact Yamaha about this issue, but quite surprisingly I found out that Yamaha has totally shut the door for any technical ideas:

Yamaha doesn't accept technical ideas

Linkedin settings are verbose

Problem

Linkedin is a professional social network which is quite popular. Unfortunately the settings of this website seems to be too verbose and it’s unnecessarily time consuming to find and set relevant options. For example let’s see the options for emails:

1. Is it the settings page, the verb “set” or “select” or “turn on/off” can be dropped from every link and still the user will get them. A link that says “Email Frequency” or “Receiving Invitations” or “Linkedin Announcements” is much shorter and the users don’t need to consume time reading the entire sentence. We are not talking about milliseconds here. People whose native language is not English read much slower. For them a minimalistic design saves even more time as long as it is not cryptic.

2. Let’s assume you receive too many emails from Linkedin and you want to change the settings. Confusingly there are two settings for how often you may receive emails from Linkedin:

  • Set the frequency of emails
  • Set the frequency of group digest emails

You may also consider “Select the types of messages you’re willing to receive” or even “Select who can send you invitations”. Oh wait, “Turn on/off Linked in announcements”? What are announcements? Are those the emails I receive?

Unfortunately there is no way to know which one is the right option until you try them one by one. In my opinion the option grouping needs to be reconsidered.

Solution

1. I suggest a minimalist approach for copy writing the settings page: remove every word that doesn’t directly add value for the users. I would design this particular page like this:

 

The colored tiles on the left are placeholders for some icons. There are basically 3 settings in this page:

  • Invitations: who can send you an invitation, and if you want to receive invitations for participating in research.
  • Email types: various types of messages that may end up in your mailbox. Here you can decide if you want to receive an email or just a digest at the end of the day, week or month (see image below)
  • InMail: it’s just a premium service from Linkedin that allows you to connect anyone even outside your network. Not very useful for the majority of Linkedin users (free users).

As the most important part of this setting page here is how I would design the Email setting dialogue:

It took like half an hour to prepare that muckup in Photoshop. So I quickly go through the changes:

  • Every type of message that can be sent as an email has these settings: “No Email”, “Daily Digest”, “Weekly Digest” and “Monthly Digest”. No need to say that “No Email” means that the user doesn’t want that type of email.
  • Emails from groups are separated by a title but they are still emails and use the same system. This design joins two dialogues from the current Linkedin settings page: “Set the frequency of emails” and “Set the frequency of group digest emails”.
  • The cancel button is now a button. It’s not an style to use a link for one type of action and a button for another! For the sake of consistency let both of them be buttons. Cancel is red to indicate a warning that the changes will be lost of cancel is pressed.

There are many other things that I’d like to improve about this settings page. But this post already took more time than I intended to put on it. I hope it’s useful anyway.