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Businesses IOS Iphone The Almighty Buck Apple Technology

Apple is Really Bad At Design (theoutline.com) 366

Joshua Topolsky, writing for the Outline: Once upon a time, Apple could do little wrong. As one of the first mainstream computer companies to equally value design and technical simplicity, it upended our expectations about what PCs could be. "Macintosh works the way people work," read one 1992 ad. Rather than requiring downloads and installations and extra memory to get things right (as often required by Windows machines), Apple made it so you could just plug in a mouse or start up a program and it would just... work. Marrying that functionality with the groundbreaking design the company has embodied since the early Macs, it's easy to see how Apple became the darling of designers, artists, and the rest of the creative class. The work was downright elegant; unheard of for an electronics company. [...] But things changed. In 2013 I wrote about the confusing and visually abrasive turn Apple had made with the introduction of iOS 7, the operating system refresh that would set the stage for almost all of Apple's recent design. The product, the first piece of software overseen by Jony Ive, was confusing, amateur, and relatively unfinished upon launch. [...] It's almost as if the company is being buried under the weight of its products. Unable to cut ties with past concepts (for instance, the abomination that is iTunes), unable to choose clear paths forward (USB-C or Lightning guys?), compromising core elements to make room for splashy features, and executing haphazardly to solve long-term issues. [...] Pundits will respond to these arguments by detailing Apple's meteoric and sustained market-value gains. Apple fans will shout justifications for a stylus that must be charged by sticking it into the bottom of an iPad, a "back" button jammed weirdly into the status bar, a system of dongles for connecting oft-used devices, a notch that rudely juts into the display of a $1,000 phone. But the reality is that for all the phones Apple sells and for all the people who buy them, the company is stuck in idea-quicksand, like Microsoft in the early 2000s, or Apple in the 90s.
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Apple is Really Bad At Design

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  • Flamebait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunami88 ( 1074925 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @01:53AM (#55282001)
    What's supposed to happen in the comments here, mods? I'll start: Define good.
    • Re: Flamebait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @03:35AM (#55282235) Homepage

      Gradually move to USB type C rather than removing all other ports and forcing the use of various ugly adapters for Thunderbolt, Ethernet, HDMI etc. Allow users to update their RAM and hard drive without having to buy a complete new model.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )

        I give you the first but contest the latter. I'd actually say that most people who reach for an Apple product couldn't care less about whether it can be upgraded. Most everyday computer users (and let's face it, the IT guru ain't the target audience for Apple) buy a computer. Not a bunch of components to mix and match and replace, when they replace components, they replace computers.

        There is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach (well, provided you don't mind the trash), most people don't care about u

        • most people don't care about upgrading single components. To them, a computer is as much a monolithic black box as a stove, microwave or TV.

          As a simple metaphor : how many people will upgrade the magnetron on a microwave ?
          Sure there's going to be a few people proudly screaming "me!" on /.
          But in your family ? Normal people around you ?
          The most probable answer is going to be "What a magnetron ?"

          There is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach (well, provided you don't mind the trash), most people don't care about upgrading single components.

          But some region of the world are going more conscious about all the electronic waste.
          European countries have putting effort to bring the "Repair instead of throw away" idea into the public radar.
          Upgrading RAM and SSD is a good way to insuflate a few more y

          • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

            But some region of the world are going more conscious about all the electronic waste. European countries have putting effort to bring the "Repair instead of throw away" idea into the public radar. Upgrading RAM and SSD is a good way to insuflate a few more years into a laptop and avoid the whole thing going to a landfill.

            So even if grandma has the slightest idea what an "SSD" is and thinks that "RAM" is a male sheep, it's still good for the environment if her old laptop can be upgraded/refurbished instead of thrown to trash.

            You can't upgrade past 16GB of LPDDR RAM, which is in all newer MacBooks and minis. You can blame Intel for that, partially. In fact, looking at the upgrade paths, you can blame Intel for 90% of the lack of upgradeability. 1156, 1155, 1366 sockets, about every 2 years a new one comes out. The reasoning? Because Intel can't create a new CPU without changing the socket so older motherboards won't work with it. As for the SSD upgrade, those are possible, at least in everything I own, although average Joe(an) w

    • A computer/phone/gadget that is more than a fashion statement but a fashion statement, well designed, easy to use, stable, low maintenance, intuitive and responsive.

      In other words, what Apple products used to be right before Jobs croaked.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What's supposed to happen in the comments here, mods? I'll start: Define good.

      This is a very good question and you do not deserve the downmods. Although the answer is very clear and well documented it's very much widely unknown and even more widely ignored.

      Key elements of "good" industrial design would include (in approximate order of priority):

      • supports the owner of the product in effectively using the product for the things the product is aimed at
      • supports the product engineers in delivering an environmental, cheap to manufacture, long lasting and safe product
      • supports the marketing
      • The author sounds like that turd from Dead Poets Society that tried to define good poetry using his stupid 2D grid. Good design is a design that people like to use and gets its job done. Nothing more. And considering the popularity of Apple products I'd say they're doing it right.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        The ugly layout of the iphone X is probably an example of this. They should have waited another five years for smaller facial sensors which could be put properly on the edge of the screen with only a minimal loss of screen space or they should have waited for a technology to do infra-red sensing through the existing screen. As it is, the design compromise is a) ugly and b) make using many apps more difficult. Probably that's an example of a design compromise which Apple would not have made in the past.

        It's

    • Re:Flamebait (Score:5, Informative)

      by vincentj7 ( 842874 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @11:40AM (#55283635)

      Like the article states: make a device that works the way I work.

      I often use my phone outdoors. Make a screen that can be viewed in sunlight.
      I sometimes use my phone in the rain. Make a device that is splash resistant.
      My hands have not grown since 2005 but phones keep getting larger. Make a device that fits in my hand.
      Even if it fits in my hand, I may occasionally drop it. Make a device that doesn't shatter when dropped.
      When I travel or go hiking, I spend less time near outlets. Make a device with a swappable battery or one that lasts days.
      When I travel, I use my phone for navigation and communication. Make a phone that works on any network.
      I don't want to replace an $800 device every other year. Make a device that is affordable and lasts several years.

      That's a good device. Many of these problems are ones that the device manufacturers introduced because they value form over function.

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @02:01AM (#55282023)

    Smartphones are approaching the same point as laptops a decade ago or screwdrivers a century ago. They are fine and don't need to be changed. There are emerging areas such as VR, voice and machine learning where there are lots of unsolved problems and opportunities for great design. But changing things for the sake of changing things does nobody any good. Apple should stick to their tradition of using technology in meaningful ways when it is ready.

    • Yes, but think of all the designers that will be out of a job if they have nothing to do. They HAVE to change things for no reason, otherwise why do they even exist? Moreover in order to advance in their careers, designers need a portfolio they can show, of what they did and exciting new designs they innovated. Who cares if the users hated it, the designers have to get promoted! This is not optional, it is mandatory!
    • Apple should stick to their tradition of using technology in meaningful ways when it is ready.

      What Apple should do is spend some of their gigantic pile of cash on R&D into anything and everything they've ever considered spending money on. Call it Apple Labs or something, to differentiate it from a polished Apple product. Maybe they'll find the Next Big Thing. At minimum they'll do some good by hiring some people, and maybe find some great employees in the process who they can bring back into the mothership with the various development ventures inevitably fold.

      • by TheFakeTimCook ( 4641057 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @08:34AM (#55282937)

        Apple should stick to their tradition of using technology in meaningful ways when it is ready.

        What Apple should do is spend some of their gigantic pile of cash on R&D into anything and everything they've ever considered spending money on. Call it Apple Labs or something, to differentiate it from a polished Apple product. Maybe they'll find the Next Big Thing. At minimum they'll do some good by hiring some people, and maybe find some great employees in the process who they can bring back into the mothership with the various development ventures inevitably fold.

        So, 10 BEELION annually isn't a big enough R&D Budget???

        http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

        • by Luthair ( 847766 )
          Really depends on what they consider R&D - choosing the 'correct' rounding for the horns on the X?
        • by green1 ( 322787 )

          Considering that they're generally last to market with every single feature, only after every low end android phone already has it... Apparently the 10 Billion is either not enough, or being spent in the wrong places.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2017 @02:02AM (#55282025)

    He didn't teach anybody to approach problems the way he did. Apple did poorly when the board kicked him out. That SHOULD have been a warning. Apple's doing poorly again, and this time, unless there is a genuine miracle, Steve ain't coming back.

    • by Paradise Pete ( 33184 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @03:07AM (#55282151) Journal

      He didn't teach anybody to approach problems the way he did.

      He set up an internal university [wikipedia.org].

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Saturday September 30, 2017 @04:19AM (#55282317) Homepage Journal

      Was design really that good under Jobs? The aesthetics were mostly just ripped off from Braun and Samsung, and there were as many gaffes as clever bits of design.

      What Jobs was good at was building an aspirational brand.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @06:00AM (#55282547)

        Actually, yes. Jobs was a rare combination of someone who knows a bit of IT and someone who knows what people who have no clue of IT need. I saw it first hand numerous times how people who just couldn't "get" computers had few problems dealing with Apple products and actually started to like trying things where they were earlier afraid to.

        I'm no fan of Apple. Far from it. I can't stomach their, in my opinion, completely unusable interface, but it seems that computer illiterates can deal with them better than with interfaces written by IT people for IT people.

      • Erm, you got it a bit backward :)
        The same companie doing designs for Apple also did for Braun and Porsche: 'Frog Design'.

      • Yes it was.

        I had a portable mp3 player long before the ipod was released. It was shit in comparison to the Apple take on the problem. They didn’t get there first, but they did it better.

        I had a touchscreen device before an iphone - but it was shit in comparison. The resistive screen / stylus / os / software support were all lacking.

        Apple under Jobs did one thing really well: spot innovation that others are making, polish it and get it into the market before the competition can refine. That was largely

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        More like Sony.
    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      I think its more you need a product guy as CEO, with a business guy you have someone who wants to fill every niche and maximize profits. Great for shareholders in the short-term but internal politics and jockey by the lieutenants pull things apart. See also Steve Ballmer.
  • by StevenMaurer ( 115071 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @02:02AM (#55282027) Homepage

    For all his ability to pitch to the public, Steve Jobs took direct interest in the products his company sold, rather than just focus on managing the company and leaving the decisions to be hashed out by committees developing a consensus several levels below him. The result is what you see now in Apple products - a muddled mess of different ideas that just don't fit together right, and very little actual customer value. The whole "facial recognition as your password" business for example, is certainly not worth the cost to regular consumers, and absolutely not so to people who care about actual security (for several obvious reasons I don't need to remind nerds about).

    Like it or not, the world needs Simon Cowell types, who can simply act for the consumer and say "no - not good enough". They may be hard to work for, but without them you get stagnation, as we're seeing here.

    • Do you remember the 3 different window treatment styles in the age of Aqua or the 'corinthian leather' look of apps in iOS or Firewire + USB. Steve Jobs gave us those and we called him a genius.

      Apple is down to two ports on all their hardware - USB C and Lightning - and we're still critical that it's not down to one and we say 'if Steve were here this would never happen' - seriously?

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        That's because Steve Jobs was an absolute genius. No, not at any part of product development (technical or otherwise). He was a genius at MARKETING. Steve could take any piece of half baked garbage and make the world want it (and he frequently did)

        Apple has survived the past decade or so exclusively on marketing, they haven't had a superior product since the early mac days. They've just had the best marketed one. And yet, despite their amazing marketing, they still only cling to a small fraction of the smar

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday September 30, 2017 @07:26AM (#55282753) Homepage

      Yeah, supposedly that was one of the important roles that Jobs played. Someone would bring him a new product or design, and he'd say, "Nope, not good enough."

      And importantly, his view of what was "good enough" was often based on how pleasant or annoying it would be to use the end product. It's something missing from a lot of technology companies. It's common for companies to focus on having the longest feature list, the best technical specs, or having some new cool trendy gimmick. Jobs seemed to really think about, "This feature is cool, but what happens when I actually try to use it? Will it work well, or will it be annoying? Even if it works well, will it make my life easier and better, or will it be useless?" If it's annoying or useless, it just doesn't go into the product.

      I don't think that's exactly an Apple problem. It's more of a technology problem that Jobs used to keep Apple away from. Even without Jobs, Apple still isn't as bad as the rest of the tech industry.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        Considering that modern Apple products (from the early iPods on up) have had horrific user interfaces that are extremely hard to use by comparison to their competition, I think you're attributing the wrong skillset to Jobs.

        His skill was in marketing, not UI. If he was focused on anything it was how good the item would look on a store shelf, not how easy it would be to use.

  • by ragahast ( 879945 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @02:17AM (#55282049)

    I'm typing this on a 2015 MBP, given to me by my employer. It definitely has some things to recommend it, e.g. it's light weight, decent battery life, easy access to *nix tools (via Homebrew), speaker capability and screen brightness. In other respects though, I have to agree with the submitter. Hardware-wise, it's about on par with my 2010 Thinkpad. OS-wise there are a bunch of deficiencies which are not just my opinion about look-and-feel, but actual missing features. I'll just describe one quickly, which I feel is emblematic of Apple's general issues.

    On a Mac, you can switch through display elements (windows, dialogs, full screen apps) in two segregated ways. Cmd-tab switches applications, cmd-backtick switches windows within an application. On one level, the segregation is logical, but in practice it leads to some really inelegant behaviors. It's impossible to place one window on top of a fullscreen application, so among other things you can't take notes while watching a fullscreen video. Full screen applications create their own workspaces which are children of the original workspace, and switching back to other workspaces isn't allowed. Actually, you can switch, but it will immediately scroll back to the full screen application.

    Windows, on the other hand, simply has alt-tab (or win-tab), which cycles through all display elements without regard for parent application. It naturally allows windows to be displayed above fullscreen applications, and for fullscreen applications to be left in fullscreen mode when switching away or minimizing. It's more simplistic, but also more functional. Again, that's not an opinion, it's a missing feature: on a Windows PC one can take notes on a fullscreen video, and on a Mac one cannot.

    It's a basic design choice that seems logical and elegant, but ends up handicapping the window system down the line. Another similar example is the total lack of a hotkey to restore minimized windows. There is Hide (cmd-H), but it only works on entire applications at a time.

    • by mfnickster ( 182520 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @02:42AM (#55282093)

      If you hit alt-tab to switch apps, then press the up or down arrow while switching apps, you go into window-selection mode.

      You can then use the tab key to switch apps and the arrow keys to switch windows within apps.

      It's a bit clunky, but it's there.

      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @04:50AM (#55282405)

        If you hit UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A all the USB-C ports morph into USB-A ports, the touch bar turns into actual buttons, and the notch on the iPhone X flips up to reveal a headphone jack.

        • Damn. I think I mixed up B and A. Any way to turn that Apple II back?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's impossible to place one window on top of a fullscreen application, so among other things you can't take notes while watching a fullscreen video. Full screen applications create their own workspaces which are children of the original workspace, and switching back to other workspaces isn't allowed. Actually, you can switch, but it will immediately scroll back to the full screen application.

      Holding the Option key when clicking the green fullscreen button in a window's "traffic light" maximizes the window--makes it as big as possible within the current workspace and system UI elements--without invoking the dedicated-workspace mode. You can then place other windows on top of it to your heart's content. The choice of default behavior is up for debate, but dedicated-workspace-fullscreen is definitely not the only choice offered.

      (Fullscreen mode should not prevent you from switching to other worksp

    • by garote ( 682822 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @03:19AM (#55282193) Homepage

      Um, hey, not to burst your bubble,

      but there's this free application called VLC for the mac that'll play all kinds of video formats, and if you hit command-F it goes full screen, and stays full screen if you tab over to, like TextEdit, and edit a note. The note window just appears over the video like you'd expect.

      I hope you haven't been doing without this for too long!!

      • A workaround is not a feature.
      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @04:53AM (#55282413)

        but there's this free application called VLC for the mac that'll play all kinds of video formats

        And you have just managed to reiterate the point of TFS. Macs used to just work. Now you need ${SOFTWARE} combined with ${DONGLE} and a ${WEIRD_GESTURE) thrown in for good measure to do ${BASIC_STUFF}.

        • Describe to me the exact year you refer to, when macs didnâ(TM)t need additional software?

          I mean, ... itâ(TM)s an operating system, not a tardis.

          Remember when OS X first came out and no one could print anything?

          Or all those years when âoeTextEditâ was your best option, until you installed Word?

          Or all those years when OS X did not ship with a web browser, and step 1 post-install was to download Camino, Firefox, or Internet Explorer?

          Should OS X still come bundled with a custom-built Java?

          • when macs didnâ(TM)t need additional software?

            You don't seem to understand the difference between "additional software", and software replacing already existing software from Apple which has some major design shortcomings.

            I mean, ... itâ(TM)s an operating system, not a tardis.

            No. It's an ecosystem. Apple products always have been. The idea that if you stick with Apple for everything then everything works together, and above all it just works. No tweaking, modifying, adapting, or smashing your head against keyboards in frustration. People don't run OSX because it's a good OS.

            Remember when OS X first came out and no one could print anything?

            I remember Apple compatible prin

        • but there's this free application called VLC for the mac that'll play all kinds of video formats

          And you have just managed to reiterate the point of TFS. Macs used to just work. Now you need ${SOFTWARE} combined with ${DONGLE} and a ${WEIRD_GESTURE) thrown in for good measure to do ${BASIC_STUFF}.

          A computer without software is an expensive paperweight. I mean, really, how did you think GP was playing the full screen video in the first place?

    • Actually, on windows the behavior is application-dependent. Sometimes raising one window of an app raises all its windows. And that's not even mentioning MDI mode, which has fallen out of favor but which still exists.

    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      It's amazing how the Thinkpad can get it so wrong too. Battery life which is a marketing number, a display where the highest priced upgrade isn't as nice as the Macbook's standard display, a trackpad which is merely tolerable, a keyboard layout which changes every few generations by somebody who thinkgs people hit Prtscn as often as they hit the space bar.

      The things on a Thinkpad which make me happy.... I don't have to worry about bumping the magsafe power in clamshell mode, I can turn off the radios wi

      • The default full-screen maximize behaviour is stupid. I don't know what apple was thinking.

        Thinking is not what Apple does anymore. When they were small and flexible, they thought. They took risks. Apple of today is basically incapable of taking a major risk, even though it's just sitting on more than enough money to do so. It's not challenging itself, so it's not having challenging thoughts.

        Remember, back in the way back, Apple only had full-screen apps, and desk accessories. Even once you could switch between full-fledged applications, it was some time (System 7!) before you could have two apps

    • This 'new fullscreen' behaviour is a complete mess.
      Only an complete idiot could have invented that and an even bigger moron approved it.

  • Ideas, as every VC and every entrepreneur knows instinctively, are a dime a dozen. It's the ability to execute on those ideas that matters. In the course of that execution compromises must be made to make the ideas reality.

    'The pundits' make a point about Apple's success because it's self evident that consumers, in aggregate, consider Apple's compromises more then acceptable, hence driving Apple's growth.

    • by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @02:57AM (#55282125)

      Apple has no real competition. Samsung got closest, but lacks the software talent to compete without Google ... and Google sells it's customers. Microsoft is a shipwreck and the lack of vertical integration which they are stuck in for historical reasons was fine for when computers were more expert devices, but has become too big a handicap now.

      Best hardware, best security, best privacy, best longevity of support, best ease of maintenance for idiots ... a few niggles in UI and I/O and outrageous prices can't harm them when all their "competitors" fail to get close on most of those.

      PS. wish they didn't exist though.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        For not having any competition they've still managed to have only a small fraction of the smartphone market. Android dominates with over 80% market share.
        Samsung alone sells more phones than Apple.

        As for the rest "Best Hardware" hasn't been true of any Apple device is over a decade, "best privacy" wow... someone's been drinking the kool-aid (I'm not saying that the competition is any better, but if you really believe Apple isn't just as bad you're delusional) "best longevity of support, best ease of mainten

  • Oooh. It’s horribles. A notch for sensors at the top of the screen. A black slice at the top of the phone would be so much better. Apple will collapse. Doom! Doom I say.

    The post made some good points right up until the bleating about the notch.

    • It's the epitome of a first world problem, of course, but to me, it's similar to the hump on the back of the last iPhone case. That is, I'm wondering why someone near the top didn't take a look at that and say "Damn, that's kind of ugly. Apple isn't supposed to release ugly products - especially not flagship products. Let's back up and figure out something else here." Apple has always been known for a company that, whatever else they do, has always been known for its strong sense of aesthetics. It's ju

      • Re:What the Notch? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thomst ( 1640045 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @05:54AM (#55282531) Homepage

        Dutch Gun observed:

        It's the epitome of a first world problem, of course, but to me, it's similar to the hump on the back of the last iPhone case. That is, I'm wondering why someone near the top didn't take a look at that and say "Damn, that's kind of ugly. Apple isn't supposed to release ugly products - especially not flagship products. Let's back up and figure out something else here." Apple has always been known for a company that, whatever else they do, has always been known for its strong sense of aesthetics. It's just surprising to see that slipping a bit, at least in my view.

        When Steve Jobs was in charge, he WAS Apple's "strong sense of aesthetics". He was an abusive asshole, but he was an asshole with vision, and he had the power to ensure that no Apple product was released until he, personally, was satisfied with its design. So he did. And, despite his tantrums and vicious criticism of their work, the people he hired to turn his ideas into products that met his standards worshipped the guy - because, in the end, he drove them to craft things that were both functional and beautiful ... and that, in a number of cases, actually introduced and created markets for whole new categories of high-tech products. (Think iPod and iPhone here.)

        The guy who's in charge now is a supply-chain manager - basically a glorified bean counter. He has all the vision and sense of aesthetics you'd expect from an accountant, but he was at least self-aware enough to recognize his own shortcomings in that regard, and hand the product design task over to Jony Ivie, who's an actual design professional.

        In business there's a thing called a "key man problem". Apple had it in spades. Now that key man is gone, and Jony Ivie, for all his undeniable talent, is neither aesthetic visionary enough, nor implacable tyrant enough to replace him ...

      • Current smartphones are the poster child of first world problems. Because the world comes to an end when you have to unlock your phone with a passphrase instead of smacking your face into it.

        Personally, the only thing that changed from the Nokia 7110 that I had to the smartphone that I have now is that I was able to get rid of the car navigation system.

    • The post made some good points right up until the bleating about the notch.

      Embrace the notch. The notch is courageous. All bow to the notch.

      Captcha: mistakes

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      The "notch" is apparently polarizing.

      It's not a horrible idea really, there's nothing saying that the screen has to be perfectly rectangular, and there's no reason that you can't display information in the unused area beside the sensors at the top of the screen. I haven't yet seen the iPhone notch in person, but the one on the Essential phone (though admittedly much narrower than the Apple one) looks quite useful and really makes that screen stand out.

      Now up until recently most smartphones had an aspect rat

  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @02:35AM (#55282079)

    First, that form follows function. They've been putting form first, and it shows.

    Next, that they're not making post-modern art: they're supposed to be making devices that serve a practical purpose.

    • Tim is in love with the Bauhaus [wikipedia.org] philosophy of art that form and function should be one, and fluff and ornamentation should be reduced to its bare minimum or, better even, eliminated altogether, so they would not distract from the important bits of the design. Sadly it seems that he didn't quite understand that "being one" doesn't mean that you have to force them together. Like you said, function should take the lead.

      Tim let form lead.

    • Unfair to single Apple out. Pretty much every designer under the age of 40 needs to re-learn it.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        Are you really saying that there are no designers under 40 working for any major corporation?

        I don't think it's only those under 40 that have the problem.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Did they ever know it? I recall Steve Jobs telling people they were hold their phones incorrectly.
  • With iTunes, for instance, they have been unable to fix the most mind-boggling problem with its core functionality - playing music - that on occasion it stops playing music in the middle of a track and skips to the next one. Screencast evidence. [youtu.be]

    • With iTunes, for instance, they have been unable to fix the most mind-boggling problem with its core functionality - playing music - that on occasion it stops playing music in the middle of a track and skips to the next one.

      Maybe iTunes just doesn't like your taste in music and it's looking for something better. Wait until iTunes merges with Skynet.

  • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @03:11AM (#55282173)

    But it does reflect something I've noticed with recent generations of Mac OS, the design is quite beautiful but the usability can be terrible.

    There's two main areas of trouble I find. First, Apple has a very specific idea for how you're going to use the system, and they simplify as much as possible by removing things unrelated to the tasks they had in mind. But then the moment you do something slightly different you're pretty much out of luck.

    Second, they seem to have a thing for buttons or menu options that don't have any feedback or help available. I've had a number of instances where I've clicked/selected something had absolutely zero feedback for 30 seconds. It's not that the system was lagged or anything, it's just that they apparently thought feedback wouldn't be pretty enough.

    It's honestly given me some good lessons about what not to do when I'm designing my own applications.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @04:55AM (#55282415)

      But is it really? Trolls are deliberately offensive posts with the singular goal of upsetting people. This seems like a very clear list of reasons why many people think Apple has fallen from grace.

      Just because a few fans will get upset that their favourite religion is attacked doesn't mean the article is automatically a troll article.

      • But is it really? Trolls are deliberately offensive posts with the singular goal of upsetting people. This seems like a very clear list of reasons why many people think Apple has fallen from grace.

        Just because a few fans will get upset that their favourite religion is attacked doesn't mean the article is automatically a troll article.

        Agreed, troll was the wrong word, but it is flamebait. The main emphasis isn't on the list of reasons, it's on the overbroad conclusion. That's the type of post that tends to attract arguments more than constructive discussion.

        The surprising thing is it didn't spawn a lot of Apple defenders, that's not a good thing for Apple.

        Oh, and for a concrete example of what I was talking about. I was just using my Apple laptop a couple minutes ago and a popup came up asking me if I wanted to install some updates. I cl

    • by OolimPhon ( 1120895 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @05:08AM (#55282451)

      There's two main areas of trouble I find. First, Apple has a very specific idea for how you're going to use the system, and they simplify as much as possible by removing things unrelated to the tasks they had in mind. But then the moment you do something slightly different you're pretty much out of luck.

      Actually, that's more or less the same experience I had when I was a Windows user. Microsoft designers (!) obviously thought their users would use the programs in a particular way and if you wanted something different, well, tough.

      Mind you, that was 15 years ago. Switched to Linux then and haven't looked back. I can't answer for either Apple nor Microsoft products since then, but from what I've heard, it seems that nothing much has changed in either camp.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        On the other hand, in the past 15 years Linux has massively improved... well, for the first 10 or so of those years anyway.

        Linux is now the "it just works" OS, doing things out of the box that just don't work on the other major platforms.

    • Second, they seem to have a thing for buttons or menu options that don't have any feedback or help available. I've had a number of instances where I've clicked/selected something had absolutely zero feedback for 30 seconds. It's not that the system was lagged or anything, it's just that they apparently thought feedback wouldn't be pretty enough.

      This seems bizarre to me because from my recollection, Apple back in the 68k days used to be very very good about this. Wasn't it part of the human interface guidelines that you always gave some indication that you were doing something before you did it, if it could take any time at all? ISTR Apple actually being the first to provide a GUI thermometer widget in their OS, though I could be mistaken about that.

    • I've had a number of instances where I've clicked/selected something had absolutely zero feedback for 30 seconds.

      So you think it didn't register (perhaps your double click was too slow?) and you do it again. Nope. Nothing. Then suddenly 27 instances of the app open. Infuriating, isn't it? Win 8 suffers from this too.

      On my Desk is an Archos PMA430 running openPMA. When you click an icon there it immediately begins to dance and continues until the app opens. You know it's working.

      So a thing made by am

  • 'Tude (Score:4, Insightful)

    by garote ( 682822 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @03:14AM (#55282181) Homepage

    Apple has not changed a damn thing about the way they identify, develop, advertise, and ship new products, in about 15 years. They have, however, moved on to different targets (no more "I'm a mac" ads required these days) and increased in scale massively.

    For example, they are now shipping FOUR distinct OSes (macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS) each with its own set of development tools and growing legacy of hardware, running entire suites of applications that intercommunicate very deeply with each other across each platform and the internet. The fact that very few pundits even acknowledge this quadrupling of their output is telling. Instead, they get all sarcastic about notches on phones that haven't shipped yet, as though they are now masters of design, and make the usual fashionable declarations about how Apple isn't the same Apple it was three years ago, or five, or eight, or when Big Steve was around, or in the 80's, or whatever.

    Some people say Apple is successful only because of their fashionable marketing. You know what's fashionable marketing -- what never gets old? Loudly declaring that Apple is finally on the decline, or has been for years despite absolutely sky-high profits. And letting the ad impressions and the comments roll in, because hey, maybe THIS time, maybe we'll be right. And maybe THIS time congress will repeal Obamacare. And maybe THIS time, when we toss the poodle out the window, it'll fly.

    • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

      "The fact that very few pundits even acknowledge this quadrupling of their output is telling."

      Not at all. They have four platforms: Mac, phone/tablet, TV, watch so having four software platforms (all interrelated) is not telling or even surprising, it's entirely expected. What is telling is that you choose to paint this is somehow indicative of something wrong with Apple. Of course they have distinct Ones, they haven't committed the Windows failure.

      "Instead, they get all sarcastic about notches on phones

  • And of course it's going to be a massive success, like every iPhone before it.

    Buy Apple stock. I know I am going to.

  • Perhaps they do, but they know how to do paragraph breaks.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @07:44AM (#55282807)

    It's not just Apple, it's Microsoft and even enterprise system vendors who have been relentlessly tweaking interfaces for the worse. Apple may actually have been one of the least worse offenders in comparison, although I think the intensity of irritation varies quite a bit depending on individual usage patterns.

    Microsoft had a highly usable, if boring, user interface in Windows 2000. Windows XP kept it mostly the same, but implemented needless changes in the start menu and with great emphasis on shiny colors. Windows 7 was nearly just an improvement on XP but also brought forth some of its own changes. Windows 8 was an abomination, a total abandonment of its desktop UI standards for a fantasy of a touch screen environment, something almost no one wanted on a desktop computer. Windows 10 was just an attempt to salvage the mess of Windows 8 along with a fairly draconian new level of perpetual control by Microsoft.

    Completely bizarrely, Microsoft has been folding in these UI changes to their server OS, too, resulting in a confusing mess that serves no purpose in that environment. Tasks are often split between management applications that remain unchanged since Windows 2000/2003 but were reasonably feature complete and new applications that are not feature complete and require their byzantine command line interface to make comprehensive changes. Which really is another topic -- why didn't Microsoft simply implement a well-known shell and syntax from Unix? Why ignore a broadly understood, tried and tested shell and syntax for a new model, one that lacks some of the basic features and capabilities of the Unix shell?

    An example from the enterprise software market. VMware had a very straightforward and useful management application for their hypervisor platform. While it has its technical flaws, it's very usable and straightforward. VMware, and mostly for good reason, wanted to move this to a web client to end a dependency on Windows. But rather than merely port their UI to HTLM5, they changed it dramatically, making it a slow and confusing maze of related screens and requiring browser plugins. They changed it again in 6.5 (obsoleting the Windows application), making it HTML5 driven and somewhat more responsive, but still not nearly as straightforward to use.

    Frankly, I think in the last 5 years the entire computer industry has run out of meaningful ideas. UI changes are made to keep development staff busy and generate justifications for increasingly expensive required updates, meanwhile nothing really new is being provided (and in many cases, less is being left to the user's discretion). We've reached a kind of treadmill of technology, pointless iterations to generate incompatibilities and sales.

  • ....is "shake to undo." Whoever came up with that unintuitive, hard to reproduce abomination should be forced to use Android 1.5.

  • Apple made it so you could just plug in a mouse or start up a program and it would just... work.

    That's pretty much easy if you have full control over both the hardware and sofftware design. You can see the same pattern with the Commodore Amiga or other standard pre-fab home computers, where everything has a specific standard to follow, and everything had a specific design.

    It was only an advantage in the short-term versus the PC, which was much less standardized in what could be included or developed for it,

  • This is silly. Just because you disagree with small things doesnâ(TM)t mean the entire company is bad at design.

    Apple has thought long and hard about Lighting and USB-C. Lightning is smaller so they use that on their phones and headphones case etc.

Two percent of zero is almost nothing.

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