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Why iOS 7 Is Making Some Users Feel 'Sick' 261

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-not-supposed-to-eat-the-phone dept.
dryriver sends this story from The Guardian: "The introduction of fake zooms, parallax, sliding and other changes in Apple's new iPhone and iPad software has a very real effect on people with vestibular disorders. ... It makes frequent use of zoom and slide animations; the home screen boasts parallax, with icons apparently floating above subtly animating wallpaper. And it's making people sick. Triggers and symptoms vary, but TidePool mobile app developer Jenni Leder's experience is not uncommon. A self-professed power-user, she frequently switches apps; but on iOS 7, this has caused headaches and feelings associated with motion sickness. 'I now have to close my eyes or cover the screen during transitions, which is ridiculous,' she told The Guardian, adding that there's nowhere to hide: 'It's not apps that affect me, but accessing them. Tap a folder and the view zooms in. Tap an app and it's like flying through the icon and landing in that app's micro world — and I'm getting dizzy on the journey there.' Reactions to screen-based systems — especially those utilizing 3D effects — aren't new. Cynthia Ryan, executive director of the Vestibular Disorders Association, says 3D effects can cause 'intense nausea, dizziness and vertigo,' sometimes from general vision problems, but also from visual-vestibular conflict. She added symptoms 'manifest more severely if a viewer already has a disorder of the vestibular system.'"
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Why iOS 7 Is Making Some Users Feel 'Sick'

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  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:31AM (#44978615) Homepage

    I am not an iOS user, but i know in Android these effects are very easily toggleable by the user.

      • by R.Mo_Robert (737913) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @11:15AM (#44979205)

        That only affects parallax in the home screen and very few other types of "motion" in the UI. It does nothing to stop the "zoom" effects that happen when you wake the device start an app, or do anything that was fine in iOS 6 but annoying now even if you don't have this medical condition because it makes you wait a second all over the place for the stupid animation to complete.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:02AM (#44978769)

      I'm not an iOS user either, but I know that I design all of my interfaces for people with vestibular disorders.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:05AM (#44978785)

      YES you can turn them off in the settings in iOS7. By the way the next version of Android will have a screen lock wallpaper of hypnotoad. You can turn it off but strangely you feel compelled not to. Everyone would be talking about this but hypnotoad tells them not to.

    • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @12:48PM (#44979731) Journal
      Same thing in Windows - first thing I do is turn off all "special" effects. They don't make me sick, but why would I want to waste a few hundred milliseconds here, a few hundred there, just to have things "animated". If I open a menu - bam, I want the menu. If I close a window, I want it gone... I don't need to have it look nice sliding in and out.

      For some of us, the appeal of "computers" is that they do what you want them to do, nothing more, nothing less (even if they had bugs, there was always a logical reason why it was doing "something you didn't ask it to do".)

      Nowadays computers are doing all sorts of stuff you don't want them to, and didn't ask them to. By design.
    • Sorry but Apple is all about style of functionality. That can't be new to you. Flash over function all day every day.
  • by crafty.munchkin (1220528) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:33AM (#44978621)
    Yes, I turned all those effects off, and it was still making me feel nauseous.

    It's now been replaced, with a brand new phone of the same configuration at no cost to myself. That is brilliant customer service, Apple. Cheers.

    • by bondsbw (888959)

      a brand new phone of the same configuration

      Are you saying that you now have a newer model (e.g. you went from iPhone 4S to 5 or 5S or 5C)? That makes a difference?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        I think you misunderstood his point - whether or not the hardware was updated, it was the same interface. The interface was the problem, not the phone.

        I'm starting to think that my $125 waterproof Android phone is superior to an $800 iBling in a whole lot of ways (my daughter has an iPhone, she wants one like mine now).

        • by bondsbw (888959)

          Yes, I did misunderstand. "Cheers" was sarcastic, I now assume... I thought the OP was saying that he got a newer phone that somewhat made it better.

        • Are you comparing the subsidized price of an android phone to the unsubsidized price of an iPhone?

          • The iphone 5 with 16gb is +/- 516 euros here in the Netherlands (cheapest price)
            The Galaxy S4 with 16gb is +/- 486 euros here (cheapest price) (and bigger screen and better specs)
            Both unsubsidized, but Mcgrew is a known troll, so don't take him too seriously

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            No, my phone wasn't subsidized; I'm not on a contract. $45 a month unlimited everything, price goes down $5 with every 6 on-time payments. Bought it after my feature phone's screen broke off, $125 on my card. I can switch carriers tomorrow with no penalty whatever.

      • They replaced the 32gb 4S running iOS 7 with a 32gb 4S running iOS6.1.3 and that makes a large difference.
    • by JustNiz (692889)

      >> with a brand new phone of the same configuration .... so they replaced your phone with an exact duplicate? huh?

      • by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@nOsPam.elis.ugent.be> on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:25AM (#44978901) Homepage

        Probably because of Apple's extremely annoying policy that you cannot downgrade iOS anymore a couple of days after they release a new version. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHSH_Blob [wikipedia.org] for more details. The ability to downgrade to iOS 6.1.3/6.1.4 was disabled around 22 September.

        Since iOS 7 was only released recently, there are probably still quite a few devices with iOS 6.1.3/6.1.4 in the channel, and that person probably got such a device in exchange for his iOS 7 "upgraded" one.

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          > Probably because of Apple's extremely annoying policy that you cannot downgrade iOS anymore a couple of days after they release a new version.

          I wonder if Apple's stance will ultimately be "just use it, you'll get used to it". We've heard that stance from another manufacturer recently.

          • by sir-gold (949031)

            > Probably because of Apple's extremely annoying policy that you cannot downgrade iOS anymore a couple of days after they release a new version.

            I wonder if Apple's stance will ultimately be "just use it, you'll get used to it". We've heard that stance from another manufacturer recently.

            What do you mean "will be"? This has ALWAYS been Apple's stance, ever since the old Mac Classic days. They have always had the attitude that their products are absolutely perfect right out of the box, and adding any configuration options would ruin this perfect experience.

    • I turned all those effects off, and it was still making me feel nauseous.

      Maybe it was all the other B.S. "U/X" crap that you cannot change...like the emaciated font for the lock screen time/date

      The reason is "U/X"...or more specifically, to justify all the money they budgeted for 'user experience designers' in the design process.

      Everyone knows the user is the most important part of the equation and that 'good design' is good. After that, its like debating the definition of 'feminism' at a gun show. There i

    • by mdielmann (514750)

      Yes, I turned all those effects off, and it was still making me feel nauseous.

      It's now been replaced, with a brand new phone of the same configuration at no cost to myself. That is brilliant customer service, Apple. Cheers.

      Ah, that reminds me of the old line: I said it was an upgrade, not an improvement.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:37AM (#44978641) Homepage

    Is there really no way to disable the animations? Could you customize the wallpaper to be a single colour so there is no visible movement?

  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:01AM (#44978759) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure this is a violation of Microsoft's patent on Software as a Sickness.

  • Amateurs (Score:5, Informative)

    by gweihir (88907) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:20AM (#44978863)

    This is not new. Apple does not seem to have any competent GUI people anymore, just "designers". And of course, competent testing would have found that problem. I expect in a while we will be hearing that thy did know this but management did not took it seriously. Like the the one time where Apple management thought thy knew more about antenna design that the guys that do it for a living.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      And of course, competent testing would have found that problem.

      I don't think Apple does a great deal of real world testing on their products, in order to keep them super secret until the day of release. The new animations were not in the early previews of iOS 7 IIRC. Also, the only test that really mattered was if Steve Jobs liked it.

      This tends to backfire quite often. iPhone 4 antenna issues, Apple Maps, and now this.

  • Lucille Austero was an iPhone user?
  • by Latentius (2557506) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:25AM (#44978903)

    Not to be insensitive to people with vestibular disorders, but why is this the first I'm hearing about this? OSes from Windows to OSX to Linux to Android, etc. etc., have employed various zooming/sliding/wobbling/parallax animations for years now. I've only played with iOS 7 that smallest bit, but is it really so different from everything else that's it's causing a sudden wave of heretofore unseen motion sickness?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is the same problem many of us have with first person shooters. If you've heard people complain about getting motion sick while gaming, you've heard of this before.

    • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:40AM (#44978977)

      Not to be insensitive to people with vestibular disorders, but why is this the first I'm hearing about this?

      In a nutshell, vestibular disorders are weird and the triggers are subtle. Certain movements won't bother most people, but if you smooth them out, adjust the speed, tweak the effect, things get weird.

      I went through an episode of labyrinthitis (an inner ear problem) a few years ago, and it was crazy what would and wouldn't trigger problems. For example, I could watch videos of someone running a dog in agility, but first-person video of any kind was nasty and when that tsunami trashed Japan, I nearly hurled trying to watch footage of the waves on Youtube. I could actually run my dog in agility, spinning and sprinting and and dodging and pretty much anything physical while standing up, but being in a moving vehicle or even just bending over... ugh.

      • In a nutshell, vestibular disorders are weird and the triggers are subtle. Certain movements won't bother most people, but if you smooth them out, adjust the speed, tweak the effect, things get weird.

        I discovered, back when Doom came out in the 90s, that it didn't take much for games with a lot of motion - especially FPS - to induce motion sickness. I've sometimes had the same issue when I watch a movie in a theater.

        But iOS 7 hasn't bugged me at all.

        I am not intending to discount the experiences of the people reporting this, because I know how uncomfortable motion-induced nausea can be. But this has to be a very tiny percentage of iOS users.

        • by c (8461)

          But this has to be a very tiny percentage of iOS users.

          With Apple's sales, a very tiny percentage of iOS7 users is a heckuva lot of people. If the iOS7 versus iOS6 changes increased that number by, say, a factor of five, you might be looking a decent size city worth of people suddenly finding iOS uncomfortable to use.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:53AM (#44979077)

      In general, it's worse when the effect covers a larger amount of the region you're paying attention to visually. In this case, it covers the entire screen, which is awful. There are movement effects in (for example) OSX but they are basically always against a fixed background. That's not true in iOS 7 according to TFA, where you get effects like the whole screen sliding or zooming, with acceleration and deceleration and realistic parallax effects. These effects are intended to evoke the feeling that the user is moving (as opposed to the feeling that objects are moving around on the screen), so it's not surprising that they trigger people who have what is effectively the worst case of motion sickness imaginable.

      • by dimeglio (456244)
        I personally have motion sickness and can't even go to those rides that synchronize seat movement to the screen. Yet, iOS 7 doesn't trigger this at all. The iOS parallax effect is barely noticeable. The zoom-in zoom-out is no worse than seeing a fast zoom effect on TV. Not sure what's wrong with those who feel sick with iOS 7 but there's a simple fix Apple can make to solve the problem.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      in none of those does it really happen that much in normal workflow.

      you probably know a bunch of chicks who can't even watch someone play a 3d game though..

    • by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @11:34AM (#44979309) Journal

      Yes, other operating systems and interfaces have implemented similar effects. But Apple implemented them everywhere possible. Just unlocking the screen causes a zoom-out-to-your-previously-opened-app effect. I can't say that it makes me sick, but it can be disorienting and distracting. It's definitely a case of effects for effects sake.

      There isn't much you can do on the system without triggering some 3d effect.

    • Not to be insensitive to people with vestibular disorders, but why is this the first I'm hearing about this?

      Because now it's about Apple and the iPhone and that generates page views and drives advertising. Now it's a real story where, before, it wasn't.

      I'm guessing you already knew the answer but I'm stating it to make it official.

  • by jtara (133429) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:53AM (#44979071)

    As usual on /., many commenters above failed to either read the article or actually try it themselves.

    You can turn off the background paralax effect. But, really, that is quite subtle and not that objectionable. I turned it off, simply because I figured it eats CPU, GPU or both unnecessarily.

    The new animations are gratuitious - they don't seem to serve any useful purpose. They are just plain silly-looking. Home-page icons now fly-in from all different angles. Drag a page, and now you are no longer dragging a skewmorphic piece of paper, but a skewmorphic sheet of silly-putty - drag at the right side, and the page warps, your finger "stretches" the right-hand side of the page. This kind of stuff was all the rage on Linux desktops - about 5 years ago. By now, everybody still running Linux has gotten tired of it and turned that nonsense off. The "bounce" now has a "warp" effect as part of it as well - the page deforms when it bounces.

    It's like playing a bad ho-hum video game where they amped-up the effects because of lack of compelling content.

    No, you can't disable these effects.

    I'd imagine that if there is a medical issue with this, it is worse on iPad, because it fills more of your field of view when you are using it.

    Well, yes you can. You can downgrade to a device that Apple has deemed incapable of rendering these effects. I think you need, say, an iPhone 4.

    Apple seems to have become recently brain-dead when it comes to practical aspects of UI. And I hate to say it, but it must be due to Ivy, because they were quite good about it before. He is really, really good at designing appealing surfaces and finishes and packaging. UIs, not so much.

    Another example of the non-functionaly of the new UI - buttons. It seems now that many buttons have absolute NO feedback that you have pressed them. I imagine the concept here is that the button is meant to perform some action, and the action itself is the confirmation that the button was pressed.

    (Of course, a button is a skewmorphism, and we don't want skewmorphisms, right? So, I guess I shouldn't say "button" but "that word that's a bit bigger and fatter than the other words, and is off by iteself, that if you touch it something happens"...)

    Somebody should have telegraphed that message to the poor developers who were given the impossible task to insure that the "action" happens soon enough for the user to connect their touching something on the screen with the "action" - regardless of the amount of work the action might take, and, oh, regardless of any other background processing that might be going-on in the device. Well, actually, I suppose somebody did, and those developers probably now feel like shit for having failed, even thought they could not have possibly suceeded.

    • by petsounds (593538) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:55PM (#44981205)

      The new animations are gratuitious - they don't seem to serve any useful purpose. They are just plain silly-looking. Home-page icons now fly-in from all different angles.

      Just because you don't understand the design philosophy behind iOS 7 doesn't mean the animations don't serve their purpose. The idea behind iOS 7 is to convey depth levels of content, to provide cognitive breadcrumbs about where you're going and where you just came from both in terms of inter-app navigation and within the system UI. Home icons don't "fly in from all different angles", you zoom into and out of the icon you launched or backed out of. Contrast this with previous versions of iOS where you it always zoomed straight into the middle of the screen. You can argue as to the efficacy of the animations in providing visual cues about where in the hierarchical stack of information you are, but they are in no way done without purpose.

      Drag a page, and now you are no longer dragging a skewmorphic piece of paper, but a skewmorphic sheet of silly-putty - drag at the right side, and the page warps, your finger "stretches" the right-hand side of the page. This kind of stuff was all the rage on Linux desktops - about 5 years ago.

      Sorry, what? What part of the system or Apple apps animate in this fashion?

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Home icons don't "fly in from all different angles", you zoom into and out of the icon you launched or backed out of.

        And each icon is in a different location on the screen, so the zooming is "from all different angles".

  • Just (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588)
    First world problems.
    • First world problems.

      And yet here you are commenting on them. Shouldn't you be digging a well in Tanzania?

    • Re:Just (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RedBear (207369) <redbear@@@redbearnet...com> on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:33PM (#44980697) Homepage

      First world problems.

      Having vertigo so bad you can't even stand up without vomiting or at least falling over, much less walk or drive a vehicle to or from any kind of employment, is not the sort of easily dismissible non-problem to which that phrase is usually applied. Vertigo-induced nausea is a real, life-impacting and difficult to deal with medical issue. And you'd all better hope someone figures out exactly why this is happening and how to prevent it before someone starts putting visual interfaces like this in moving vehicles. The last thing we need is drivers on the freeway suddenly having vertigo from glancing at their in-dash navigation screen.

      But more to the point of my subject line: There is something totally bizarre happening here. The parent comment is a prime example of a sort of (for lack of a better word) "anti-compassion" that seems to have been triggered by this story. It's like a push-button that makes normal human beings explode with derisive hatred. Even the /. editors appear to be on the bandwagon. Notice how they've put quotes around the word "sick" in the article title (even though the actual news stories do not quote that word), implying that there is no actual sickness involved, and the byline is "from the you're-not-supposed-to-eat-the-phone dept.," implying that the user has to do something monumentally stupid to deliberately invoke the effect, such as staring at the phone for 10 minutes while moving it around to trigger the parallax motion. Neither of these implied things is true in the slightest. The sickness is quite real, and easily-triggered in seconds for some of those affected.

      I happened to be reading MacRumors yesterday when this story showed up in their sidebar. I checked it out and was absolutely appalled at the level of rage and vitriol in the comments that were being up-modded to the main article page. The forums were not much better. About 90% of the comments were from people who were expressing outright hatred of the "pathetic" "losers" who had dared to say that their precious iPhones were making them sick. I thought maybe there was so much backlash against the victims of nausea because it was a Mac-related forum. But coming here to /. where there is plenty of Apple-hate to go around I now realize this issue triggers a gaping primary defect in both human logic and compassion. The comments here are largely identical to the MacRumors forum posts; blaming the victims and/or unequivocally dismissing the problem as something that is either imagined, totally unimportant or completely fabricated. A large portion of the population appears to be constitutionally incapable of believing or acknowledging that this issue is real or serious, simply because it hasn't affected them personally. And it seems to go far beyond the usual "I got mine so screw you" type reaction. It's more like "I don't see the problem so FUCK YOU YOU'RE NOT FIT TO LIVE GO DIE IN A GAS CHAMBER!!!!ONE!!!!". By the way that's almost a literal quote of some of the posts I saw on MacRumors. I don't even have the imagination to begin to exaggerate what I've seen posted.

      The reaction I've seen in both of these forums is so extreme it's actually kind of terrifying. It's so far outside of my realm of understanding that it is literally giving me the shakes because it strongly implies that even after decades living on this planet I don't understand what makes the average human tick AT ALL. It's no wonder I've never liked associating with more than two humans simultaneously. Y'all SCARY. Irrational doesn't even begin to describe it.

      If I was a neurologist or psychologist I could probably get a grant to study this phenomenon.

      Final note: Even as I took the time to compose this post the dismissive parent comment went from a score of 1 to +4, Insightful. Is it because most people have never experienced debilitating motion sickness and thus cannot believe it's real? I don't know, and that's what spooks me.

      • by dimeglio (456244)
        I feel the same was about how liberals are treated on conservative boards in the US. I think, respectfully, you need to lurk more.
      • But more to the point of my subject line: There is something totally bizarre happening here. The parent comment is a prime example of a sort of (for lack of a better word) "anti-compassion" that seems to have been triggered by this story.

        Totally bizarre? You must be new here - it's absolutely bog standard for Slashdot.

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        Even as I took the time to compose this post the dismissive parent comment went from a score of 1 to +4, Insightful. Is it because most people have never experienced debilitating motion sickness and thus cannot believe it's real?

        I think the "First World Problems" comment was more about iOS7-induced motion sickness than motion sickness in general.

        An obvious solution would be not to use a cell phone that causes motion sickness. So this is only a 'big problem' for people who believe that they absolutely must use iOS7 -- i.e. people with an entitled "first world" mindset.

      • Birds, when ill, will feign being perfectly healthy right up until they drop dead. Many humans, when ill, will feign being healthy until they can no longer hold up the façade and fall over unconscious.

        Most animals, when witnessing another similar animal that is very ill, will react with revulsion and fear.

        It's prossibly* a result of a few millions years of natural selection. Those who stay away from their brethren when ill tend to live, whereas those that stick around and contract the disease tend to d

  • Apple (Score:3, Funny)

    by fox171171 (1425329) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @11:26AM (#44979263)
    I don't have a vestibular disorder, but Apple products have always made me sick. Or is it annoyed? Yeah, I think that's the word I am looking for.
  • Bling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gr8_phk (621180) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @11:41AM (#44979337)
    Those "features" are nothing more than visual bling. This suggests Apple is running out of great ideas and resorting to fancy instead of functional? I can name a whole list of UI features that would be awesome and seem innovative, while actually doing useful stuff easier.

    Parallax? That's so Angry Biirds.
    • Those "features" are nothing more than visual bling. This suggests Apple is running out of great ideas and resorting to fancy instead of functional? I can name a whole list of UI features that would be awesome and seem innovative, while actually doing useful.

      Like Android's Active Desktop... Er, Live Wallpaper?

  • IPhones use http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-width_modulation [wikipedia.org] (PWM) to dim its display cycling on and off rapidly above the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flicker_fusion_threshold [wikipedia.org] not only is this annoying and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asthenopia [wikipedia.org] inducing to some it is wholly unnecessary.

    What is happening with the animations at certain brightness levels http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_cycle [wikipedia.org]of the PWM creates a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resonance [wikipedia.org]
    with screen movements shadowed by the moving appendag

  • by kriston (7886) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:48PM (#44980047) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft Zune & Windows Phone had this parallax feature for years. It was on the first Zune HD back in 2009.

    Why didn't we ever hear about people getting sick on their Zunes and Windows Phones?

    Oh, wait, nevermind.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Why didn't we ever hear about people getting sick on their Zunes and Windows Phones?

      Because it was a commonly accepted feature of Microsoft products?

  • This could become worse than the Dancing Plague of 1518 or the June Bug epidemic of 1962!

    Worse, this shows every sign of being a hysterical contagion, capable of being transmitted over the Internet and infecting it's victims through contact with their computers, tablets, and smartphones!

    The good news is that I know of a possible cure, and if I can reach my Kickstarter goal of $500,000, I can begin work on a treatment for the unfortunate victims...

  • Even if you have a "disorder", how can a second long transition into an app make you sick? How long are these people using their phones and why are they constantly switching apps?

    Who are these people? Are they trust fund babies? Do they not work for a living? Do they not have classes?

    Put down the phone and do your work and/or course work. It might be that your body is trying to tell you something. You are an addict and you need to go outside and interact with regular people instead of wasting your life

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