Why a Sticky Note is Better than an iPhone

Put two things on your desk right now, an iPhone and a pad of sticky notes. Now imagine someone comes to your office and wants to give you an address you will need later in the day to send out a document. You suddenly have two choices, using the iPhone or sticky notes to record the address. Say you choose the iPhone. What steps does that entail:

  1. Tell person to wait a minute while you bring up note app on phone
  2. Click on the phone bringing up the lock screen
  3. Swipe to unlock the phone
  4. Close any app that happened to be open from last time you used phone
  5. Look for note taking app, of which you might have a number
  6. Settle on basic notes app and click on it
  7. Press ‘plus’ button to create a new note
  8. Ask person, who has been waiting anxiously, to give you the address
  9. Start typing address. It starts with a number so you have to click to secondary keyboard, then back again. As you continue typing it accidently autocorrects the street name to something wrong and you have to delete it and rewrite it. Finally the entire address is typed into note
  10. Press done
  11. Press the home button to leave app
  12. Turn off phone

So in a mere 12 steps you have the address tucked safely away in your iPhone. But
what if you used the sticky notes, what steps would that entail:

  1. Pick up pen
  2. Write down address while person reads it to you
  3. Rip sticky note off pad and stick to computer screen

With the sticky note it only takes you a quick 3 steps, the person giving you the
address is in and out of your office with no hassle or waiting, and you have the address displayed prominently on your computer screen so you both remember you need to send the document out that day, and will know exactly where the address is you need to send it to. However, with the iPhone it takes 12 steps, the person has to wait while you bring up app and try to type in the address, and the address itself it hidden away in the note app on the phone where you might forget it is even there.

While a seasoned iPhone user will argue that the 12 steps needed to write the note on the iPhone can be done very quickly by someone used to taking notes on their phone, it still can not match the ease and simplicity of using a simply sticky note stuck to your computer screen. This is a major flaw all digital devices such as the iPhone have, they still lag behind the ease of use of certain physical objects. I think in the future engineers can design digital devices to overcome these inefficiencies and actually be better than physical objects, but we just aren’t there yet. Until then, I’ll certainly use my iPhone, but I’ll still have my pad of sticky notes lying prominently on my desk.