iPad undo needs a redo

Back when the iPhone was released, shaking to undo was a pretty cool interaction.

True — it lacked cues to help users discover how to undo, and no alternative method for undo was available in some key apps (such as Mail), so this was never a perfect design, but it was usually ok.

But, where the original iPhone had a 3.5″ screen, weighed 4.8 ounces,  and had a generous bezel, my 12.9″ iPad weighs 2.4 pounds in a protective case and has an edge-to-edge screen, which means no space on the front for gripping it, and this changes the shake-undo experience

Undoing an action now requires a user to hold the tablet around the outer edges, while carefully avoiding the buttons. This is made harder because the edge to edge screen gives no orientation indication. Depending on which side is up, the buttons could be located on any of the four corners, usually exactly where one of my hands are when I try to shake it. Half the time the device turns off before I can get the undo to happen. Once I get my grip exactly right, I heave the iPad back and forth with a two-arm movement until the sensors register a shake. Sometimes there is a several seconds delay before the undo activates so this can take awhile. But sometimes it just doesn’t ever work, for unknown reasons.

There are other ways to undo actions, but most of them are only for typing, and these are available only in some apps.

It is sad to watch Apple degrade this way, version over version. Where the Macintosh UI matured and became more systematic over time, iOS has been declining for the last 10 years. Yet, Apple seems to be leaning toward making the Mac more iOS-like rather than the reverse.

Things do not look good. It feels like UI design and digital experiences in general have fallen back into the hands of technologists, and consumer expectations of digital design have fallen to lows not seen since the early 90s, with no Apple to serve as a shining counter-example to point the way out of it.

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