Great white shark eats seal off Alcatraz Island

I’m curious to know this. I would love any phone manufacturer forever if they forced horizontal video recording by default. You would still be able to record in portrait but it would involve a button press and therefore be unnoticeable to Joe User.


Well this wouldn’t have happened if the seal was armed.

Does “lazy design” count as a technical issue? In defense of laziness, this is essentially a free “check box” feature that is needed to sell a smartphone. As long as it’s not so bad that it’s the main reason you refuse to buy the phone, the camera app can be as poor and cheap as they want.

camera : smartphone :: MSPaint : Windows

Basically, the easiest (laziest) thing to do is just always take a video that is long in the dimension that the phone is long, and short in the way the phone is short. That way, what you see on the screen while shooting is correct, and your not doing all sorts of weird screen flips. I suppose you could also have a camera that shoots wide in both dimensions, so you always take square videos and crop the view later. I assume at no point has anyone wanted to burn resources on that.

Now obviously, the camera has accelerometers that can track the orientation of phone, and that is useful if the phone is camera is pointed straight ahead. If you’re shooting up at the sky or down from an office building, the orientation may be a bit of a guess. It could also change while filming. So how do you play back a video with changing orientation? Again, easiest way is just to assume the orientation you start with is the correct one, and that the user needs to learn to pick an orientation and stick with it.

So now you’ve got a video with a fixed aspect ratio, and some (limited) orientation information about which axis is the bottom one. When you play it back, the player can scale the video to fit the device screen. But what about uploading it to YouTube? There’s no actual device to worry about. That embedded window could be any size it needs to be to play that video. But YouTube is not going to spend the time to make that happen, and they are not going to store any over-sized videos with weird aspect ratios. So they also add black bars to get the right aspect ratio, then re-sample/compress the video. Now the aspect ratio is uniform for all hosted videos, and to hell with whatever orientation it was shot with.

So while each step has a technical root – in terms of usage having vague edge cases that a designer has to solve at some point – the only pressing one is that it’s a lot cheaper and faster to put the pressure on the human to accept the limitations of the software, rather than make the software smart enough to cope with real human usage.

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