Better ‘Click to call’ using redirects

A lot of mobile sites with click-to-call advertising or services require 3 clicks for click to call – first you click on the ‘click to call’ link then a new page loads often with a confirmation message e.g. ‘Click the link below to call Acme!’, after that the phone itself will ask for confirmation you really want to dial a number – that’s 2 clicks too many.

What’s happening is that the first click is registering the click through with the ad server/tracking engine, so that commission can be charged or whatever charging mechanism is in use.  You can’t easily do that on a a “tel:” URL because the mobile intercepts the click and dials the number (the server never knows about it).  To the end user its annoying – “Why didn’t the first click just connect me?”

Luckily there a ‘trick’ to get rid of one of the clicks.

It works like this:

The click to call link should hit the server e.g. be a http link, this should register the click with the tracking engine.  The server should send back a HTTP response 302 – a redirect.  The redirected URL should be the “tel:” link.  To the user there is a slight pause while the server is contacted, then their phone will prompt them to allow the call.  3 clicks have been reduced to 2.  That leave one click to obey the ‘3 clicks to anything’ rule aspired to by mobile UI designers everywhere.


iPhone double tap zoom – indistinguishable from magic

When I first saw Steve Jobs demo the iPhone’s double tap zoom feature on webpages I noticed something really neat – the zoom always seem to perfectly zoom to show a block of text.  There are 2 explanations

  1. It’s a fixed zoom level (e.g. 50%) that happened to work well in the demo (New York Times)
  2. It’s a smart zoom that knows what its zooming into and “does the right thing”

From Apples iPhone for Web Developers page: Design for Double Tap

“When the user double-taps a page, Safari on iPhone looks at the element that is double-tapped, and finds its closest block (as identified by elements like DIVOLULTABLE) or the image element (IMG) ancestor. If the found element is a block, Safari on iPhone zooms the content to fit the viewport width and then centers it. If it is an image, Safari on iPhone zooms to fit the image, and then centers it. If the block or image is already zoomed in, Safari on iPhone zooms out.”

That’s a beautiful fusion of technology and usability which to borrow a phrase from Arthur C. Clarke is sufficiently indistinguishable from magic.

Now I’m a cynic but I bet none of the iPhone contenders will manage to do this as well as Apple for several years – but expect the cheap, nasty and unsatisifying 50% zoom hack from competitors within months