Touch ID: You are too fast. There. I said it. The thing which is not supposed to be said: That something can get too good. Too smart. Too predictive.
You’re holding it wrong. You’re pressing it wrong. Change your finger. Remove a finger. Add a new finger. Use your nose (it works). A piece of your shirt. Something else. This is what they say, the people to whom saying something is too good is unconscionable. It was improved and therefore it must be better, has to be better. Cannot be worse. You are at fault.
But two things have changed in recent years: the lockscreen itself and the geometry of the phone.
The lockscreen is now an active space, a play space, a space to invoke cameras, respond to messages, talk to your pal Siri. It is a space in which you’re meant to linger, to fall in love, to capture. In fact, it’s no longer a lockscreen but rather a comfortable veranda between the world and your home.
The geometry of the phone has become caricatured, bloated, inhuman. The home button is on one end of the world, the sleep button on the other. Few men, women, or children can easily touch both without balance contortions or, worse, a second hand.
There is only one way to use Touch ID with one hand — the thumb. And so being told to use another finger undermines the beauty of Touch ID: single hand access. Another finger means difficulty in opening the phone on the subway, while carrying a baby, babies, dogs, groceries.
They say to use the side of the finger, the nail. Tap fast! Ah, but what have we done. This is what we have done: We have created a fragile space. No longer is the home button solid, simple, clean, clear. It’s something that can break if you don’t dance just the right way. Suddenly the illusion of a solid (it is all illusions, UI / UX) is broken. You see the hologram for what it is.
So what can be done? How do we fix this horror of lockscreen usability? Some don’t mind always unlocking their phones and so as it works now is good enough. For those of us who like edges on our interfaces, the solution is simple: Touch ID should only activate on the password screen (or Apple Pay). In clear contexts when unlocking is the foremost and only goal.
There should be a toggle in settings.
Settings > General > Lockscreen > Touch ID only on Password [ON]
Alas, this toggle does not exist.
Suddenly there are no more tap dances, no more accidental unlockings. The lock screen becomes this place of usability, work. The entirety of the smartphone experience brought back to single handed simplicity.
And the speed of Touch ID? Just perfect. Because when you want it, you want it fast. Just make sure it arrives at the right time.