The Pitch:

My entire life I had 20/20 vision. Now my eyesight requires reading glasses to focus on text on the iPhone and iPad. As a result I have been increasingly frustrated with applications that won’t allow me to get a general idea of what is going on without pulling out my eyeglasses.
Enter Apple Maps for the iPad. Yes, Apple is a standard by which all design is measured. Apple Maps on the iPad however has interface design issues.

The Problem:

As you can see in the photo to the left (Screen 1), 31% of the screen is being taken up by information that may or may not be relevant to the User. Let’s establish the primary directive of the User first.

People are using a map application for the map. Because we are using the iPad, it is possible that the User is out of the house and experiencing slow connectivity and/or difficulty viewing and because it is a map application, the required content might be critical.

Are there other reasons to take up 31% of screen space? Apple Maps is installed on all Apple products, so there is no need to use this space to create a primary profit for the app (which might justify using almost a third of the space). The essential objective of a majority of Users can be stated, that they need a map.

The User Experience:

So with that in mind, let me take you through my User journey in Apple Maps on the iPad…

1. I want to got to Amante, where is it?

Type in “amante” in the left box Search, hit Enter (Screen 2)

2. Amante is now located on the map (Screen 3).
But that left screen has SO much information. What the business is, how close it is to my current location, the expense of the restaurant, have photos of the restaurant, can call their phone, click the website, favorite it or share it, hours, address (most valuable), phone number (second most valuable)…

Scroll Down (Screen 4)

Still more information! The website (again), ‘Useful to Know’, ‘What People Say’, etc.
This whole time I can see my destination on the Map, but not in relation to where I am, so let’s hit that “Directions” button back on the top of this left box.

Click Directions.

3. Now I am trying to see my journey with road names, but again I am in the car and the lighting is horrible, I can see my fingerprints more than the screen and I can’t read that tiny text to see what road it is, so I will…

Zoom in

4. The names of the roads infuriatingly shrink back down to a 9 point font size (which they were originally), so I still can’t read the road names (Screen 5).

5. Now I can’t see both ends of my journey on the map, so let me get rid of that box, I have obtained all of the information that I needed from that box, the path is drawn out on the map, let’s see the whole route…

click the X in the top right of the left box

6. The entire route is erased. I am now back to the “TMI” box (Screen 3), yet the X to close it is still there, so I am going to try again to close it.

click the X in the top right of the left box for 2nd time

7. Now I have lost Amante as a search point and have nothing, no route, no point that I am going to, and there is no way to go back and undo my actions.
But I’m not giving up because I REALLY hate that box now, I’ve already asked it to leave twice and it seems to be punishing me by removing all the progress I had made just because I told it to go away!

8. There isn’t an X on the box now, but I think I can (Screen 6)

Swipe up on the bottom of the box

Ahhh, I won, except now I only have the small search box.

And Repeat

9. Because as soon as you type anything into that Search box, 31% of your screen will be taken up with that box again and there is no way to remove it from the screen and make use of the precious real estate on the iPad to view the map.

Solution:

The solution is simple and clean, which is why it is so frustrating of an interface design fail, it is already designed and programmed into the interface. Put that lovely swipe up/swipe down capability on the box at all times to close or open it when you have need of the information… that’s it.
With concern to increasing the font size, one can increase the font size on the entire iPad and it will effect the Map app as well, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could have the same capability just in the Maps app settings?

Lesson in Design:

Sometimes all that information is good and you will attract more Users with more content and capabilities. However sometimes adding too much makes the program lose sight of it’s primary objective and in this case it crowds out almost a third of the application’s use.

Addendum:

As I was writing this Blog, the team at Apple posted an iOS update and fixed the left box problem after you click “Go” when looking at directions. Now when you click “Go” the application splits the box so that you can see the map over the entire screen. Good start Apple, but I almost never go to that screen, I prefer to stay in overview so that I can see the whole route and zoom in and out. (Screen 7)

Gretchen Throop Williams
gretchen@gtdigitalstudio.com
Boulder, CO
303.443.6446

GT Digital Studio Logo

Photos @2017 Gretchen Troop Photography