Stuart Breckenridge

AssistiveTouch in Asia

John Gruber, on AssistiveTouch usage in Asia:

Here’s what I think is going on: in countries around the world, particularly Asia (China, Korea, Singapore), and also Brazil, iPhone users don’t use their home buttons. Really. They turn on AssistiveTouch, an iOS accessibility feature designed for people with motor skill problems. AssistiveTouch allows you to navigate across the system, in and out of apps, without ever clicking the home button. Why don’t they click the home button? Because of a widespread misconception that the home button will wear out, thus reducing the resale value of the iPhone.

I moved to Singapore in early 2013 and — truth be told — most of the phones I saw people using on my commute weren’t iPhones. They were larger screened Samsungs.1 When I did see an iPhone in use, it was overwhelmingly being used with AssistiveTouch turned on. It was a feature that was alien to me, I had never seen it in use in the UK.

I don’t see AssistiveTouch in use as much now and my belief is that usage started going down with the introduction of the iPhone 5s, and TouchID, in late 2013. Subsequently, usage really plummeted with the introduction of the larger screened (and, importantly, gold2) iPhone 6 in 2014. (At this point, I also started seeing far more iPhones in use than Samsungs.)

It’ll be interesting to see if usage habits, including mine, change with introduction of this year’s force touch sensor in place of the Home Button.

  1. Which I mocked at the time. ↩︎

  2. Gold is exceptionally important in Chinese culture↩︎


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