Remote Usability Testing: iOS6 First Impressions

Remote Usability Testing: iOS6 First Impressions

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They’re everywhere! Reviews upon reviews of Apple’s new operating system for its mobile devices… iOS6!

Last week Apple, along with the launch of their new iOS device the iPhone 5, Apple released an update for all iPhone and iPad owners. The new OS, dubbed iOS, was said to be filled with tonnes of new features.

Experts all over the web shared their thoughts on iOS6 like they do with every update telling us about their experiences. I respect these people, don’t get me wrong… but has anyone stopped to ask your average iPhone owner about their opinion? This weekend, together with… we did.

Take me directly to the Remote Usablity Testing videos and conclusions

Experts and Grains of Salt

Let me get this off my chest first. I appreciate reviews from experts like anyone else… I even base some of my purchasing decisions based on these reviews. Redmondpie, Mashable, Engadget… you name it, they’re good resources if you want to learn a bit more, in this case Apple’s iOS6.

What I miss is feedback from people like me. What do other people like me think of iOS6? What do they think of the new features?

Sure, blogs can tell you want you want to read, but how critical can they be? After reading about the issues with the new Maps app, I asked myself: ‘Shame that Apple let this happen, but does it really effect everybody? Are all people distraught about the poor working?’

Multiple Sources

Sure, you can take go by one man’s advise, or a woman. If my mother was to test out iOS6, she would probably not notice any difference since she is a minimal user, unlike me who tries to get the most out his device. Airplay, iMovie, photography, email, news, audiobooks… I even let my 18 month old daughter play with some of the kids apps on it.

It comes down to the fact that everybody uses their device how they want to use it. With all due respect for the reviewers out there, your work is great, but understand that your opinions might not be that of others. Ask around, and you’ll see, even Woz thinks that the hype around the Maps app is over exaggerated.

Remote Usability Testing: iOS6

UserTesting Logo

I’ll be upfront in saying that I only conducted this test with 3 participants. I set the test up using and recruited 3 participants using their panel.

For a mobile remote user test, I have to say that the turn around time again was very fast… exactly 1 hour! So, let’s break the test down before we get to see the videos.

The Participants

Like I mentioned just now, I only used 3 participants for this test. 3 females aged between 27 and 31 from across the USA who consider themselves advanced web user.

The Scenario

This one is pretty straight forward…

“Apple has just updated their operating system for mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone to version 6.We want to find out what you think of the new features.”

The Tasks

With the tasks, I quickly wanted to focus on some of the new features of iOS 6. Considering time (theirs and mine), I limited the tasks to cover just a few of the big new features.

  1. Open the Maps application. Use Siri to look for Statue of Liberty, New York. Do a Fly-Over (use 3D mode). Tell us what you think of the feature.
  2. Launch Siri. Request to see the movie trailer of ‘The Bourne Legacy’. Request game schedule for the Denver Broncos. Tell us what you think of the features.
  3. Use Siri to launch Safari (browser). Visit Open an article of your choice. Share the article on Facebook (do not actually post if you are uncomfortable with this). Tell us what you think of the features.
  4. Open the App Store. Look around the store. Tell us what you think of the new design.

Definitely a non-scientific approach, but again, I was just interested in listening to what they had to say about Apple’s iOS6.

Post Test Questions & Answers

After the video test, I asked the participants to reply to 4 questions about their experience. Click on the toggles to view the answers of the individual participants:

Q1: What was the most frustrating thing about your experience with iOS6?

A1a: Not being able to connect to the app store – I tried to play with passbook but had the same issue where I couldn’t connect to the app store. I also don’t love how every app asks me for permission to do things (like access my photos, contacts, etc) It feels very Windows to me having constant distractions.

A1b: So far the only frustration I’ve encountered was that it reset my brightness setting, which is obviously not a very big deal. I was able to go in and manually change it back.

A1c: Well honestly I would have to say the maps…I was a little confused on how to locate the fly over feature.

Q2: What other ideas do you have about how iOS6 could be improved?

A1a: I don’t like how new apps push the order of my current apps off my homescreen. I have those icons arranged exactly how I want them and updating throws them off which is really irritating. I don’t really understand why podcasts and iTunes U have been separated out from iTunes, it feels a bit strange to me.

A1b: I would love to see it include flash. I think Passbook should be optional, it is not something I will use and I don’t like having additional apps on my phone due to storage space.

A1c: So far I love ios 6! I think its a great upgrade! What I don’t know though is a user manual or quick tutorial to show what is new and how things work…like Passbook?

Q3: What did you like about iOS6?

A1a: I like the VIP option in email – I can definitely seeing myself using that. I love the new emoticons.

A1b: I love that I can finally upload my pictures directly from camera roll to Facebook. I think the new Maps application is amazing, it is fast and precise. Being able to post to Facebook and Twitter using Siri is another great feature. Game Center also has some nice improvements, like being able to challenge your friends.

A1c: All the new features and the new look of the store. I like the new Siri upgrades its is awesome!

Q4: Have you ever owned an Android phone?

A1a: Yes, in 2009. I like the mail app better in android (because I use gmail) but everything else did not compare to iPhone.

A1b: Yes. I own an HTC Evo as well as a Motorola Photon.

A1c: Yes.

The Videos

There are 5 videos in total, scroll down the playlist to watch the video you want, or let it play through the entire playlist.


All in all, every participant was positive about Apple’s iOS6. Here is what they had to say about the different features that were tested:

Maps: In general, the participants were very happy with the new Maps app even though they expected it to take some getting used to. Participants responded with words like ‘Pretty Cool’ and ‘Totally Loving It’. They did however find the images in 3D mode a bit ‘Flat’.

Movie Trailer via Siri: The participants were ecstatic about the Movie Trailer via Siri features, stating that ‘Can definitely see myself using this a lot’ and ‘Saves time in searching’. The feature, according to the participants, is impressive, cool, and ‘just great’ and they especially liked the fact that the trailer started playing by itself.

Game Schedule via Siri: Although not all participants were sports fans, the overall sentiment was good. One participant wondered if it would also work for TV shows while another participant would have liked to see more information on the game by clicking on the result. The one participant who was a sports fan was quoted saying ‘Holy cow, Siri is becoming so much more useful, I can do so much more.’.

Share on Facebook: Participants were unanimous. The share on Facebook feature is great, including the different settings available. One participant could not understand, why this had taken so long. While viewing an article on, one participant tapped the Facebook icon on the page before realising there was a built-in functionality available in Safari.

App Store: Again, all participants liked the refreshed look of the App Store. Many of them mentioned that they appreciated seeing the Editor’s Choice and Free App of the Week directly after opening. One participant indicated that she disliked the horizontal scrolling on a vertical screen. It would cost her more effort to see what is available then when using a vertical listing. No one stumbled over the iPhone 5 marketing messages. One participant did however like the fact that she could now use Genius in the App Store, she was glad they ‘added it’, indicating that in previous versions, this feature was too hidden.

What do you think of iOS6? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Contact me and learn more about our remote usability testing services.

About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on


  1. ascottyb says:

    terminal IOS 6ness contracted with apple bite

    The problem is not Ios 6 but with the new apple corporate culture.

    Ios 6 is a total disaster that exposed apples willingness to handcuff users to an irreversible and often terminal download that has destroyed many iphones and ipads with Battery drain{ 3 hour battery life} , bluetooth problems, locations services problems, wifi problems, cellular data overages raising iphone users bills as much as 100 %, and hazard to navigation apple maps. A few minutes spent on Apple Support groups reveals multitudes of astonished loyal apple users being disabused and lied to at every level of Apple Support.

    Every new system has problems but Apple failure to be transparent about these problems and failure allow users to return to a functional operating system is a new low in corporate corruption.

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