Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of my iPhone and iPad. As anyone who knows me will tell you, one or other of these devices is rarely far from my hands. Who could have imagined even ten years ago that we’d soon be carrying round massively-powerful, pocket-sized, portable computers with access to all the world’s information.
But in the spirit of first world problems that doesn’t mean I think they’re perfect. For the most part, they are extremely well designed, which is perhaps what makes all those slightly dubious design decisions all the more baffling. How could they get so many things so perfectly right and some other things so very wrong?
And because everything on the internet is now legally required to be written in list form, here are nine of my favourites…
The Massive Onscreen Volume Thing
So I’m watching a bit of video and I decide to adjust the volume.
No, that’s fine Apple, I didn’t really want to see what was happening in the middle of the screen anyway. I’m sure that bit’s not important.
The Really Obtrusive Battery Warning
You know what would be a good idea when my iPhone is about to run out of battery?
How about a massive modal warning dialog that has to be dismissed before you can do anything else with the phone. It’s ok, I didn’t really want to end that call…
They Don’t Even Apply Their Own Design Principles Consistently
Ever tried deleting a single text message in iOS7? In most cases to delete things in lists you are supposed to swipe one way or the other. In Messages for example, you can delete all the messages from a single contact by swiping left on that contact’s messages in the main screen, which reveals a delete button.
So why doesn’t this work for individual text messages? It is literally one screen away and they implemented deleting in an entirely different way. Swiping left when you are looking at individual messages just reveals the message timestamp where the delete button should be. I was so stuck I had to Google to find the answer and it turns out it’s: long hold on the text message; select More from the context menu; check the messages you want to delete; click the trashcan.
Because that’s intuitive.
They Still Haven’t Fixed Maps
Seriously, it’s been well over a year since they unleashed their half baked Maps on the world, and they still haven’t fixed it.
Look. Here’s an entirely fictitious train station that is as of today still apparently located somewhere in the backstreets of Fitzroy…
It wouldn’t matter too much, because you can always use Google Maps. Oh, except…
You Can’t Change Your Default Apps
I know letting users choose how to use something isn’t really the Apple way, but every time I click on a link in Mail and accidentally end up in Safari or click an address and find myself in Apple Maps I wish it wasn’t…
Your Calendar Appointments Can Start At All Of The Minutes
But then on the other hand some features are flexible to the point of being ridiculous. Like the fact that you can schedule a meeting down to the exact minute.
Because people do that.
Just as well we didn’t exclude the all important “my meetings all start at 13:38” use case. It’s not as if catering for an edge case makes it massively more cumbersome for the vast majority of people to pick sensible times from the time picker tool.
(If you really must cater for those exact minute appointments, why not have the time picker default to 5 or 15 minute blocks and add a toggle somewhere to turn on all of the minutes if you really need them?)
You Can’t Delete Their Apps
Stocks. Apple Maps. Game Center. Compass. Weather. Reminders.
I don’t need them. Why can’t I get rid of them?
It’s not really a design problem with my iPhone, but I couldn’t write this list without mentioning the steaming turd that is iTunes. I’m a simple guy, with pretty simple requirements. I really don’t need it to do much: put files onto my iPhone and take them off again and that’s about it, but somehow it regularly fails to accomplish even this simple task.
And I’m sure there is some magic combination of phone and computer settings for Podcasts that will make it not screw up the apparently simple task of remembering which ones I’ve listened to regardless of which device I listened to them on, but I’ve given up trying to work out what it is. I’ve implemented the workaround of manually deleting anything I’ve already listened to on my phone from the computer before I sync otherwise iTunes just keeps copying it back across…
But If There’s Just One Thing That Gets Me Every Time, It’s This…
When I got my first iPod, almost 10 years ago, it was the attention to detail in the design that won me over. I can’t help thinking that maybe things have changed in that department.
And if there’s one feature that perfectly sums this up, it’s this: iOS 7 added a cute little animated graphic equaliser that identifies the current track.
But you know what? It. Doesn’t. Move. In. Time. With. The. Music.
Why would you do this, Apple, why??