There’s a few good points in here, but I also disagree about quite a bit. As an example of something that’s not quite discoverable, deep touch or force touch or whatever it’s called. It’s unclear what you can really jam on and in which app. But the functionality it unlocks is always optional; a nice to have. It’s not necessary to use it. Indeed, my phone has it and my tablet doesn’t. If apple drew a dancing circle around everything I could force tap, the result would be… Well, google maps. :)
If Apple has confused design and appearance, I think the author has confused simple and possible. Menus are actually pretty bad at discoverability imo. Firefox has menus, but that doesn’t help me discover that “Preferences” is where to go to delete a cookie.
The fonts are a solid complaint. That’s not functional. But most Apple design still remains functional. I gripe about asshat designers ruining websites daily, but the apple site remains quite navigable on a variety of platforms. I’d actually be extremely happy if Apple were the one giving design a bad name.
The text-only button design introduced in iOS 7 is a great example of minimalism over functionality. It makes it much less clear what’s clickable vs what’s just a label. I’ve been a Mac user since the 80’s and iOS since the iPhone came out and the trend no longer seems to be that UIs are getting a lot better. To be clear I don’t think Android is really better and I also don’t have solutions to most of the areas I have complaints about but I’d hoped they would do better.
Agreed that “burn all the skeuomorphism” has had some collateral damage. I don’t know if it will prove worth it in the end, but icons that look like floppies (etc.) feels like more of a local maximum than a global maximum. Could we (we, as in Apple) have iterated our way past that? “UI without buttons!” is like “computer without floppy drive!” or “laptop without ethernet!” It’s strange and scary, but people figure it out. We kvetch about how it could have been done better, but in the end, we all seem happier for the change.
Worst UI I’ve ever used is snapchat. Growing up, people over 30 couldn’t set the time on their VCR. I feel like snapchat is the modern equivalent, designed to keep old people out. Despite the complete and utter lack of discoverablility or affordances, I’ve observed young people using the app with ferocious efficiency.
“UI without buttons!”
As long as you’re touching it, it has buttons. If they don’t look like buttons, then they’re just shitty buttons.
The floppy disk “save” icon is a funny case. It’s true that it is now 100% anachronistic, but “save” is an incredibly abstract concept—coming up with a better icon is probably, in all seriousness, literally impossible. The floppy disk icon is a well-understood idiom for a concept that defies iconography. Try to invent a better icon, and you’ve committed Google’s second most serious interface sin (inventing icons and assuming we know what they mean; their most serious interface sin is fucking changing everything all the time stop that dammit). Nobody knows what it means, and nobody can infer what it means because of the huge degree of abstraction between the conceptual action and whatever concrete icon you present.
The best option other than the floppy disk icon is probably to just label the button with the text “save”. (Actually, nearly all buttons should have text labels in addition to whatever icon the designer dreamed up. I can’t remember where I read this, but someone remarked that the greatest strength of the GUI is not that it can show images—it’s that it can show text, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. Regrettably, modern GUI designers have forgotten this completely.)
Except what we have is not “UI without buttons” it’s “UI with buttons pretending not to be buttons so you don’t know what’s a button and what’s not”.
ok, so s/ui without buttons/buttons without affordances/.
I guess his main point is that Apple led this field by discovering good principles and sticking to them, but now they’re failing to follow their own principles and the UIs are suffering for it. It’s certainly obvious that they’re not following their own principles any more. The real question is whether there’s a pragmatic reason for these changes, or maybe an improvement to their principles.
I think when you’re working with very small screens like the old iPhone it’s pretty obvious why you’d have to change your approach a little - the restricted screen space and different available interaction changes the options you have. But overall I agree with the author that some of the choices are just not well considered. Why is there no consistent back button in iOS even now? Android did it and it works well. iOS refusing to do it smacks of “not invented here” syndrome rather than good design.
The android back button is an interesting case. Does it go back in this app? Or does it go back to a different app? Trick question. It does what you want. :)
Apple does leave this up to each app, which leads to some abominations like snapchat having nav chevrons at the top and bottom of the screen (going different places!). But inter app nav is pretty consistent. I’ve never gone “back” in Facebook and landed in safari or something crazy.
For reference, if you leave an app to handle a notification, iOS now changes the signal strength part of the title bar into a back button. I might argue that that’s more consistent and predictable, but it was a while coming.
Ironic that an article about design loads an ad (on mobile) that obscures the content, rendering it unreadable.