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Tuesday, October 01, 2013 2:00 PM

Your New iPhone Can Cause "Cyber-Sickness", iNausea, Dizziness, Headaches, Literally

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Following the release of Apple's iOS7, users complained of dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Initially, the complaints were dismissed, but closer scrutiny reveals the complaints are valid.

Please consider the Extreme Tech report on iOS 7 nausea and cybersickness: What causes it, and why it’s a sign of things to come.

It seems that Apple’s new iOS 7 is so advanced that it’s actually causing cybersickness — nausea caused by the combination of a high-resolution screen, the parallax effect on the Home screen, and the zooming in and out of apps.

Some victims say that using iOS 7 is like trying to read in a car, causing the same associated symptoms: dizziness, headaches, and even that nasty feeling of needing to vomit. Medical doctors and psychologists say that cybersickness is becoming more prevalent as frame rates and display resolutions increase. The iOS 7 nausea can be partially mitigated by changing some settings, which we’ll discuss below, but with downgrading to iOS 6 now disabled Apple has left many customers high and dry.

There has to be a way to turn this off,” wrote one iOS 7 user on the Apple Support site. “The zoom animations everywhere on the new iOS 7 are literally making me nauseous and giving me a headache. It’s exactly how I used to get car sick if I tried to read in the car,” wrote another.

Just like motion sickness, cybersickness is caused by disagreement between your eyes and the movement perceived by your balance system (the vestibular system in your inner ear). Historically, cybersickness is most commonly associated with huge IMAX cinema screens or 3D cinema — where your brain thinks you’re moving but you’re not — but it can also apply to smaller displays as well, such as the iPhone or iPad.

According to medical doctors and psychologists who have studied cybersickness, the iPhone and iPad, with iOS 7, have three features that result in the feeling of nausea. The parallax effect, where the icons on your Home screen appear to move independently of the wallpaper, can cause some 2D/3D disorientation. The zoom effect when you open, close, or switch apps, can make your brain think that you’re moving — but your vestibular system disagrees. And to top it all off, the high resolution and high frame rate of the iPhone, iPad, and iOS 7 can trick your brain into thinking that the Retina display is a slice of real world, rather than a digital display, exacerbating the previous effects. The cybersickness is reportedly even worse on the iPad, as the screen is larger and covers more of your field of view — but it probably depends on how close you hold your phone/tablet.

How to prevent iOS 7 nausea

As it stands, the effects of iOS 7-induced nausea — iNausea, if you will — can only be partially mitigated by heading into your iDevice’s Settings > General > Accessibility, and then enabling Reduce Motion. This disables the Home screen parallax effect, but there’s currently no way to turn off the zoom effect when you open, close, or switch apps. I would not be surprised if Apple adds the ability to remove the zoom animation in a future version of iOS 7, however.

Just like motion sickness, another solution to iSickness is just to look away from the screen and get your bearings. If there’s a visible horizon, look at it for a few moments. The nausea is caused by your brain being confused by the inputs from your eyes and ears, and so fixing the issue is usually as simple as looking away until your brain regains its balance.
Users may wish to consider Extreme Tech's report Should you upgrade to iOS 7?

Finally, those wishing to see complaints of iNausea may wish to read Apple Support Communities
Any way to turn off iOS 7 navigation animations?

I have a different suggestion: stop using the damn phone so much.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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