2.5 year old with an iPad

You might have already seen the video with a 2.5 year old using an iPad, but if not, just go check it out.

What was interesting to me in watching the vid is that my daughter (1 year, 11 months) uses the iPhone exactly like the kid in the video. And I really mean exactly – she has exactly the same usage patterns and usability problems. Based on seeing this video and my experience with Kerttu, it’s beginning to dawn on me that most kid app haven’t actually been tested on kids, and that Apple most certainly isn’t testing the iPhone OS on kids.

Some of my findings:

Apps have about 2 seconds to impress a 2 year old. This is not the same as a 2 second attention span – she has no trouble concentrating on an app for an extended period of time if it’s fun. Boring, long-lasting load screen with no music results in immediate kill. Put a nice picture and loading music in an app and you get about 5 more seconds to load the content.

Buttons really do need to look like buttons. Any graphic that doesn’t immediately say it’s touchable is as good as nonexistent.

Non-primary application flows need to have less UI priority than primary flows. This should be a given, but it’s not. Most of the kid apps have non-essential things like high score board and app info buttons placed in the post-game screen more prominently than the primary Play Again button. This means Kerttu kills most games with the home button when a game ends and then re-starts the app to play a new game, as that’s more intuitive than actually pressing the replay button.

iPhone OS multitouch needs improvements. Most namely, the OS needs to start ignoring accidentally resting one’s finger on the side of the screen. What’s happening now is, if your finger rests on the touchscreen, every press on the screen registers as multi-touch, which breaks almost all apps. I’d have assumed it’d be easy to ignore fingers resting on the side by default, and allow apps to explicitly say they want to detect this gesture as well.

iPhone OS really needs a lockdown mode. The existing features for controlling what the device can do are great, but the OS is lacking some primitive things like being able to put deleting apps behind a password. I’m assuming I’ll get K a iPod Touch or iPad at some point, but I’m dreading the amount of app reinstalls I’ll end up having to do. Maybe Apple will see kids as a market segment one day and do something about it, but I’m not holding my breath.

And related to above, I have a suspicion that K will never really want to use a traditional computer in her life. She completely refuses to get how to use a mouse already, and keyboard is something that makes fun noises if you hit it. Except for the space bar in the living room, which she knows pauses the TV so she can go do something else. And talking about TV, K’s expectation is that when you see people in the telly, they can hear you when you talk to them – a result of doing video calls. We’ve had one tantrum happen as a result of K’s aunt being on TV, and not responding to the increasingly agitated greetings from K. :)

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