Friday, July 13, 2007

iPhone and the case of two-fingered enlightenment

For some time now I have been writing a blog that is circulated internally at AOL - A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I could also contribute to Boy has that move paid off! Let me explain. On June 29th, My wife bought me an iPhone. It is a fantastic device. I love it! I had proclaimed it, months ago, to be the defacto standard for mobile access for Web 2.0 applications. It has lived up to that billing. But we have been finding limitations. One of the applications missing from the iPhone at launch was a chat application. iChat was conspicuously missing. This has led to rapid development of third party web-based chat applications. One of the developers on the developer network produced Tiny Buddy IM. I also immediately tried one of my favourite chat applications, meebo. Both worked but had a flaw. The same flaw also appeared when I tried to use the iPhone to input a wordpress blog posting. The issue is that a scrollable list that appears inside a web page does not have a scroll bar and there is no obvious way to scroll down the list. The application appears broken. I was wrong, but it took one of the members of the AOL developers network to reveal the secret. Thanks JRBSilver! He revealed the secret. Typical of Apple, they have embedded a subtle richness to their user interface. It lies there hidden to be discovered. Any iPhone user has learnt to flick around web pages with a finger and to pinch and spread two fingers to zoom in and out. Well, if you encounter a scrollable list inside a web page you can scroll it by placing two fingers together and moving the list. So the rule is one finger to scroll the page and two fingers to scroll a sub-section of a page. I suppose it is entirely logical when you think about it. This discovery means I can scroll my list of buddies. Now I just need meebo to fix the selection of an item in that scrollable list. Unless of course Apple have already programmed a specific jesture for that and we just haven't discovered it yet! So it is good news. The following applications benefit from this discovery:
  • meebo
  • tybyim
  • Wordpress
I am sure I will discover more that benefit from this gesture, but if you find them first drop a comment below and I can add them to this list.

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