Cross Platform User Experience Inconsistencies: Apple’s Safari

For the past several years, working intimately with multi-platform content providers, like TMZ1 and The Daily2—and as a self-admitted gadget-holic owning a multitude of different devices—I’ve been extremely conscious of inconsistencies between all the cross-platform variants of the content and applications that I interface with daily.

As someone who is product-minded, several of these inconsistencies drive me absolutely mad. In the hopes of someone from one of these companies fixing these inconsistencies, I decided I should start writing these down as blog posts. I’ll be writing a series of these discussing Apple, Google, Twitter, and FlipBoard to name a few. To be clear: I’m a big fan and heavy user of all the products I plan on highlighting in these posts.

Apple’s Safari

I have an iPad and I use Safari on my MacBook Air. Apple very smartly stole took a cue from Google Chrome and made the address bar also be the search field for Safari on OS X; they call it the Unified Smart Search Field:

Safari’s Unified Smart Search Field: Search Google or enter an address

It’s great. I love it and use it daily.

Unfortunately, I also use Safari on my iPad daily. And on iOS, for some reason (even though iOS has been updated more recently than OS X), there is no Unified Smart Search Field:

On iOS, Address Bar & Search are two different and separate things.

Due to the conditioning that I have received from Safari Desktop, I inevitably end up clicking in the Address Bar when on my iPad and trying to type in a search query there. This, of course, doesn’t work and I find myself triply frustrated: frustrated by this inconsistency between these two different versions of Safari, frustrated by having to re-enter whatever I was attempting to type in the Address Bar (I normally don’t catch the mistake until I try to add a space in my search and find no space bar on the ever-changing, depending upon the task iOS keyboard), and frustrated by the fact that no matter how savvy a end user I may be, I still make this mistake. Frustrated. Every. Single. Day.

Fortunately, there’s a Google Chrome Browser app for iOS that I can use now to avoid this. But I don’t. Using Safari on my Desktop and Chrome on my iOS would mean that I’m not using either iCloud or Google Sync effectively. Does Apple want me to dump Safari completely and go all Google Chrome? This inconsistency sure makes it feel that way.

If I did that, I would have better Google Sync across all my iOS devices and my Android phone. Although if I really wanted seamless Google Sync, maybe I should consider ditching all my Apple devices and going Google Android…

Mistake: Features ahead of Frustration

This should be obvious: Frustration isn’t a good thing for end users. It makes them think about ways to leave you and your products behind so that they simply no longer feel frustration. Continued frustration will often eat away at and outweigh any sort of brand loyalty or affinity they have for your product(s).

Sadly, a consistent, non-frustrating but more limited user experience is better than a really nice and highly functional product with amazing new features that has frustrations that the user encounters every single day. While you’re ignoring the parts of your product that frustrate users, your competition, if they’re smart, will be adding features and polish to their less frustrating experience.

Apple shouldn’t have introduced the Unified Smart Search Field until they had it ready for all their platforms. Or they should have quickly added it to iOS. As it stands, they’re letting their size—the fact that they have multiple different teams working on different versions of their product—create inconsistencies between a product that based on engineering teams is most likely seen as very different, but which in our cross-platform multiple-device world is seen by the end user as something that should be as functionally identical as possible.


1website, mobile web, iOS apps, & Television (everyone always seems to forget that TV is a digital platform)

2iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, Android phone, Kindle Fire, Facebook app, and individual web-pages for iPad content that had been flagged as shareable.

About C.K. Sample III

I am a father, a husband, a blogger, a parrot owner, a pug owner, and the VP of Technology/Engineering for Chaotic Moon. This site has no comments. If you want to talk to me, send me an @cksample on Twitter. If you like this post, feel free to send me a micropayment via Bitcoin.
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