iPhone’s Biggest Flaw: Vertically Oriented HD Video Recording

Dear Apple,

Okay, that’s it. I’m sick of this. Fix it, already.

As a long-standing iPhone user, I feel the need to bring to your attention a massive oversight that has slipped your attention with every OS revision you’ve released: enabling users to record vertically oriented video. Portrait mode is awesome for still photos, but not recorded video.

Never in my entire existence on the planet have I seen a video created by a user who intended on having that video recorded in a vertical orientation. Most consumer HD viewing experiences don’t work that way. Nobody stands their HDTVs in a vertical orientation, and an extreme few have vertically oriented monitors attached to their computers. Vertical video broadcasts can be equally as awkward. There’s really no need to enable either, anymore, but my beef is primarily with recorded video — with the portrait broadcast a close runner-up.

It is quite possible that the user intends to record the video in a vertical orientation to begin with, expecting the video would record precisely what is viewable on screen at the moment of capture. I could imagine you might want to do this if you were recording something that was more tall than it was wide. But… this just… never seems to work out.

Who embeds (wants to view) videos formatted in a portrait orientation?

I’ve had more than a few videos ruined because I was holding the iPhone parallel to a flat surface — like shooting an object on a table while hovering directly above it. I had always intended on shooting in a landscape orientation (and even held the phone in such a manner while recording). However, because I failed to check the screen orientation before pressing the record button, the result is not just a failed video recording, but a rather peeved user as well.

The answer isn’t “you’re holding it wrong.” Suggesting that the user is incorrect in this scenario is unfair, especially when the issue can be addressed with a software revision to the Camera app. I can’t imagine the feature would be limited to any iPhone that had been enabled to record video, either, because people have been recording vertically oriented video on the iPhone ever since you enabled them to do it.

Not being a UX expert, I can’t make formal suggestions as to how you might address this “problem” in software, but I’d imagine it would include some kind of new icon that would alert the user to an alternative recording orientation (along the lines of your excellent camera-flipping icon). Or, quite possibly, be set as a default of landscape recording instead of vertical if the user was holding the phone in a portrait orientation.

You require users to double-tap the screen to get a full field of view of the video dimensions, so it’s not like I’m out of line to expect that you’d also be able to figure out how to accommodate the death of vertically oriented HD videos.

While I haven’t done any kind of formal polling, I’d imagine that the vertical-happy faction of your audience is slim. The circular lens functions irrespective of screen orientation, so this is certainly not a hardware flaw. Fix it.

Thank you.

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.