I have been struggling a little with this problem. I'll start introducing my case so to better explain my concerns.

The scenario I'm dealing with is that of a password forgotten feature: I have a sign-in view, with text fields for username and password and a submit button (plus other things). Now I'm going to add a "password forgotten?" functionality that will ask the user the email to than send a reset link to it.

There are few alternatives to follow once the user click on password forgotten, :

  • to show a modal view with the email field and the submit button (and a brief description). Minus: it's going to be an almost empty view.
  • to show the email text field dynamically in the sign-in view + the submit button. Minus: I have to think through a design solution for that, and may not be trivial. Like: where to show it? Should I hide the other fields and buttons? etc.
  • A popup dialog with a text field and a submit button shows up. Minus: ?

To me the last solution sounds like the straghtest, but I don't have a concrete explanation for that, it's just common sense.

What's your point of you? Is it worth to use a popup input dialog in this scenario?

2 Answers 2


Forgotten password can be considered the corner case. So you want to optimize your interface for the main case. That's good. But in case somebody needs to reset his password you don't want to squeeze this into a modal dialog. The user is lost so let him focus entirely on the password reset task by removing everything that could distract him. So the point you list as 'minus' is actually a 'plus' for this solution.

I have a very simple sketch below and you might want to think about the links as better touchable elements (like buttons).


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • Ok, I finally have to agree about the "empty screen is better", you are the second one pointing that out and it actually makes sense. But than the main question remains: when is it worthy to use a popup to ask the user input? As I said to @AlexOvtcharenko, Apple (from iOS5) started providing new styles for the UIAlertView aimed at providing an "input alert", so I guess under certain circumstances it can be used... Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 13:00
  • @NicolaMiotto Certainly you can use the lately extended capabilities of UIAlertView and in a simple case like this one this would work too. But it's hard to get any additional information across, like a small help text 'We'll send you password reset instructions by email'. Also not sure how you trigger and where to display a confirmation message after the user has completed the task. I think the plain interface is just so much more flexible. Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 13:51
  • The help text could be right in the popup (it fits, it's not that much), and then the confirmation chould just be a "success" alert like those of SVProgressHUD. Anyway, looks like that in this case it's better to use a modal view. I still don't get, though, the answer to the main question: "Which are the circumstances where I am allowed (and it's 'cool') to use a popup input dialog?". But maybe I'll try to ask that question in another thread. Thanks! Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 14:51

Such behaviour as popup dialog is untypical to iOS, especially for iPhone/iPod touch devices, so you'll break a normal flow to user. First variant is better, and "almost empty" is the advantage of the dialog — no other elements will disturb user. You may try to change the design of this view to make it more pretty, but from UX point of view and iOS guidelines it is the best solution — one view for only one task.

  • But if it's untypical to iOS, why in iOS5 they introduced new styles for UIAlertView, like UIAlertViewStylePlainTextInput UIAlertViewStyleSecureTextInput and UIAlertViewStyleLoginAndPasswordInput? When are they supposed to be used? Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 9:24
  • @NicolaMiotto Sorry, unfamiliar with such new cases — it seems it is not a consistent introduction from Apple. But I've seen the usage of alerts for inputs, and all they behaved in "non-iOS style" (more Android-way style).In any case, my answer was about iOS-guidelines in application to iPhone apps, and the size of iPhone window is rather small to use any popovers inside it. Historically alerts are for information or quick choice from small selection, not for input — and it is better to use them in the same way to protect consistency. Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 9:28

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