Many people have recently discovered that the iPhone's Calculator app had a backspace feature where one could swipe left or right to delete a digit. I'm not a professional UI/UX designer, but I feel that this is a poor design choice. To my knowledge, there is no type of indicator that identifies this feature. According to the article I linked, this feature has been present since at least 2014. For contrast, the calculator on my Android phone has a dedicated DEL key that switches to CLR when = is pressed:
Android calculator with DEL key

Is this a poor design choice and could Apple have done it better?

  • Never knew this, but to this day that's why Snapchat's UI is horrible. They EVEN HAD TO WRITE A DIAGRAM FOR INVESTORS WHEN THEY WENT PUBLIC! That alone says so much – Majo0od May 5 '17 at 15:11
  • @Majo0od Never used Snapchat myself, what do they do badly (out of curiosity)? – Muzer May 5 '17 at 16:33
  • There is no onboarding, and most of their functionality is hidden which you have to figure out on your own or people tell you about. So bad... It's still an interesting app, so maybe they are doing something right? – Majo0od May 5 '17 at 16:43
  • 6
    IMO Snapchat does this on purpose to attract a younger user base. "Use our app, your parents won't be able to figure out what you're doing". Just my .02. – glassy May 5 '17 at 17:19
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Although the use of gestures allows ease of use, as mentioned here and I quote:

Using a gesture rather than a button allows you to speed up and more efficiently complete the action, without having to take up screen real estate.

The issue with gestures is that they are always hidden as mentioned here and I quote:

In addition, gestures have the same problem as icons do: there are common ones that most users understand like tapping, zooming and scrolling, and there are those that need to be discovered and learned for each app. Unfortunately, most gestures are not standard and consistent across apps yet

What Apple could do is to guide the user to use the gesture to backspace a value when:

  • The user visits the app for the first time

Or change its functionality to replace the C button to Backspace and use the gesture to eliminate all the numbers on the screen

  • 2
    I suspect that if Apple did change the UI, someone's workflow would be broken. – Michael Kjörling May 5 '17 at 17:13
  • hidden gesture should aways be shortcuts for otherwise visibly accessible features – njzk2 May 5 '17 at 19:54
  • Because being told once, ever about a feature makes up for it being invisible. – Yakk May 5 '17 at 20:00

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