Lost In Mobile

Shaun McGill

07412 655899

Lost In Mobile is the continuation of PDA-247 which, under various names, provided news, reviews and commentary on the mobile world for 10 years.

I have been writing about the mobile industry, mobile products, apps and everything else in between and beyond for more than 10 years, and currently write freelance for Imagine Publishing and also undertake one-off projects upon request.

I welcome your comments and thoughts and if you want to get in touch, please do so via the email address or phone number above.

Thanks for stopping by.

Shaun McGill

Yes, iOS 7 makes me dizzy. It really does.

As per usual, the big websites are jumping on to a problem with iOS 7 that is being twisted to be Apple's fault. Users are claiming that their iPhones and iPads are making them feel dizzy or even sick and some sites are seeing this as an opportunity to bash Apple or to over-hype the situation.

The thing is, it is a real and genuine problem, but it is one that the vast majority of the population will not understand. Last June I caught a virus called Labyrinthitis which made me feel very dizzy for a few weeks, to the point that I could not drive anywhere and had to work from home for 6 months. By all accounts I was lucky as some people end up in hospital because they cannot even stand up, are sick very often and end up dehydrated.  I have been unlucky in that I am one of the minority who continues to suffer dizziness, particularly after driving for more than a few minutes or even when trying to run or watching a film that involves lots of motion.

I have had to walk out of the cinema because the effects in a film made me dizzy (Ice Age: Continental Drift caused me to be physically sick), I cannot get on a train, I cannot do any real exercise and it has had a hugely negative effect on my life. After MRIs, a battery of tests and special exercises, the problem continues and my main worry is that it will be with me forever.

It doesn't help that I work with some people who presume the whole thing is made up and day after day the comments continue questioning whether it is real. I could be nice and put it down to them simply not understanding the condition or they could just be assholes. And then I read comments like the following which were posted on Twitter, ZDNet and other sites when the story about the iOS 7 problem started doing the rounds-

"Are these the people that feel sick when they stand up or watch TV? What a load of old horse droppings. This is pure headline grabbing yellow journalism. Shame on you."

"Smells of media looking for an issue to latch on to."

"Odd how no one complains that certain Android launchers have same visual effects. Just saying."

The above are the type of responses I am seeing and I can understand the last one because it is a very good question, but there is a simple answer. I have been using the iOS 7 betas for some weeks now, but have not spent much time playing with my iPhone and iPads. By that I mean that I have not been using them for extended stints. Maybe it's the new iPhone 5S, and the novelty of it, but I have recently been setting it up and thus spending much more time jumping between apps and doing general stuff on it for longer periods. In my case, I am feeling dizzy after about 10-15 minutes of use. It is not a big attack like I get after driving, but it is noticeable and I have to stop using the phone. I wasn't convinced so I continued to experiment and sure enough, it happens every time, and it would appear that the zooming of the screen and visual effects when opening and closing apps are the main problem for me. I have reduced the motion in settings to cut down the parallax effect, but I cannot reduce the other visual effects because there is no option to.

And then I remembered reviewing a 3D launcher on Android for a freelance project a few months back. It was a long review so I spent some time using it. For me, the app caused big problems because the visual effects were extreme and I simply could not use it for more than a minute at a time. I put it down to my condition and at no point felt that anyone was at fault for that. No company can be expected to cater for every individual and every accessibility issue, but in Android I can simply use another launcher or the stock offerings without all of the visual cues that cause me problems. And that is why it doesn't happen on Android- all of these effects are not there by default and if the user has a problem which they are lucky enough to pinpoint to the phone, they can adjust the way it works.

I cannot adjust iOS 7 to work in a way that won't cause me problems which seems a shame as it is made by a company that has historically been brilliant when it comes to accessibility. To be clear, I am not blaming Apple for this because it cannot have been foreseen, but that does not mean that the stories are all hype.

For some people, a minority, iOS 7 is a genuine problem and the situation needs to be fixed by Apple. When you have a vestibular condition, it is often very difficult to pinpoint what triggers dizziness or sickness and for most, myself included, the smartphone is such a natural thing to just pick up and use that it is not an obvious culprit. After looking at this for some time now, I am 100% certain that iOS 7 is causing dizziness for me, just as I am certain that driving does. I am also 110% touchy about the whole subject because so many people I know have no understanding of how debilitating it can be, and the simple things that can make it worse.