Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Apple Design Excellence Is Failing

Just incase you hadn’t gathered already, I really like Apple products. Not because I am some obsessive fan boy, but because (generally speaking) they all work together and achieve exactly what I want from my devices. Given this meek attachment I never feel the need to jump to Cupertino defence when they release products I don’t like, or do things that I think could be better. This is why the podcast walks that line, and in actual fact I recent post on the Outline that is very anti-Apple makes many points I agree with. Apple design excellence that once existed is being eroded away and that’s a very bad position to be in.

Their own design choices of wiggly lines aside, I am always a little sceptical about these posts written to stir an emotional response. Do they really believe what they are writing or are all of these words written just for clicks. However Josh raises some very valid points (something he didn’t with tweets surrounding the iPad Pro) about the design and user experience of Apple products and I have to agree they are declining in quality.

I can forgive the Apple Pencil stuck in the Lightning port, I can also semi forgive a mouse with a charging point on the bottom, but when software and design choices actually make the device harder to use then questions should be asked. Issues with bugs in iOS11 are rife, the OS now contains a sudo lock screen that used to be a notification hub , and Control Centre has been turned into a grid of semi blobs with toggles in and it only looks to be getting worse with the iPhone X.

Removing a home button may allow Apple to squeeze in a large screen, but their are so many navigation items to include, users need to relearn everything they know about the iPhone. The developer of Overcast Marco Arment has a large job on his hands updating the app to work with the iPhone X. Changing the UI to work on gestures rather than buttons is all very well, but at the cost of hours of development time there are defiantly huge trade offs.

You could argue that this is too be expected when Apple change design, and it was a particularly painful experience for those that adopted the iPhone 6 plus early on. Unfortunately there is no argument against having to redesign the apps because Apple left a notch in the screen and didn’t design the UI around it.

”Design isn’t just about beauty, its about market relevance and meaningful results” – John Maeda, former president of the Rhode Island School Of Design

You can talk about website design and CSS safe zones all you like, but the truth is these design trade offs in hardware and software are a modern Apple issue. We can sit around and muse over what Steve Jobs would of allowed the phone to look like, but I have a gut feeling he wouldn’t have liked it.

Design is not just what the device looks like, it is how intuitive and easy the device is to use. Design is not just an object, it is a sum of all the parts involved in any use, users are affected by the design choices made when designing the phone. If this is a confusing experience, with a notch cut out the screen that you are paying £1000 for then it doesn’t look good. Final judgement will come when the device finally goes on sale, but with more actions to fit into the UI before sale Apple’s design dominance is really taking a battering.

Reply via:
Leave Reply