End & Accept, Decline, Hold & Accept

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End & Accept, Decline, Hold & Accept

Brenden Mulligan, on the three choices given when you’re on an iPhone call and a new call comes in:

These options break my brain every time.

iOS 11

The issues:

1. It’s unnecessary decision making in the 10 seconds before the new call goes to voicemail

2. It’s too specific about what’s going to happen to the current call


This is an interesting one because you don’t see this in a stress free state. You see it while juggling at least one other task, and you have time pressures, etc. and you don’t see this UI very often.

I find this confusing, too. One issue is that the language isn’t parallel. In two of the choices, the first word applies to the current call, but in the other one it applies to the new call. Keeping the current structure, I think it would be clearer to have either:

  • Accept & End, Decline, Accept & Hold
  • End & Accept, Keep & Decline, Hold & Accept

I also find the icons too hard to interpret quickly. One issue is that the red circle with the hung-up phone doesn’t mean the same thing in both cases.

Shekhar Somani:

[This] screen breaks the muscle memory. We don’t panic when the first call arrives because there are two clear options (if the phone is unlocked) – Accept on the right and Decline on the left.

Whereas, now Decline is in the middle.

John Gruber:

[It’s] the same exact location as the big red end button that does end the current call before (and after) the incoming call arrives.

Willi Kampmann:

The big red phone button in the middle is deeply encoded into my brain as “end call”. I’d rather see a big X or sth to signify declining another call.

John Gruber:

Took me a while to find it, but I knew in my gut that Apple had completely knocked this one out of the park — in 2007.

iOS 1


Watching and listening to the incoming call in the video, it is even more clear. You have a thing — the current call. The current call has an End Call button. A new thing arrives — the incoming call. Two options for new thing that don’t end the existing thing are grouped.

This is so much better. No confusing icons, and the red button consistently means to end the current call.


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