Apple’s design sucks, says professor

“The Myth of Apple’s Great Design”

“In truth,” writes Ian Bogost in The Atlantic, “Apple’s products hide a shambles of bad design under the perfection of sleek exteriors.”

Examples of bad Apple design? Bogost offers nine:

  • The new MacBook Pro: Requires dongles to connect USB-A devices to its USB-C ports
  • Touch ID: The slightest disturbance on a finger makes it unreliable
  • Autocorrect: How much typing has become retyping, correcting corrections?
  • Big iPhones: Reaching the edges of the screen with one palm difficult, even for users with large hands
  • iTunes: Makes managing music libraries difficult and confusing—even destructive
  • Mail: Still can’t search for emails effectively or accurately
  • iMessage: frequently stops working; iPhone sends text messages less reliably than before
  • Keynote: Randomly changes the formatting of text in presentation notes
  • iWork: Never came close to competing with Microsoft and Google’s commensurate products, “horrid though both of them are”

Bogost, a game designer and professor of interactive computing at Georgia Tech, doesn’t entirely blame Jony Ive. “Apple products’ inattention to detail in design was already easy to see during the Jobs era,” he writes.

And like many architects, he’s not a fan of Apple’s “spaceship”:

Like every Apple product, the company’s new headquarters is a monolith meant to be worshiped at sight and by touch. Just don’t ask too many questions about how it works in practice.

Link: The Myth of Apple’s Great Design



  1. John Kirk said:
    This is just another example of measuring down from perfection and — surprise, surprise — finding Apple wanting. I think it’s always better to measure up from where we were.

    Have Apple’s product designs made improvements in tech? Hmm, let me think. Apple I, Macintosh, iMac, PowerBook, iPod, iPhone iPad, iWatch. Please name me the products of competing companies who have changed the world again and again and again and again and again and again and again…

    Gee, here’s a nifty cool way of seeing if Apple has good design. Let’s take a look at what computing products are designed just like Apple’s, shall we?

    — Every PC is using a user interface modeled after the one introduced by the Macintosh
    — Every notebook computer looks like the ones Apple pioneered.
    — Every smartphone looks like the ones Apple pioneered.
    — Every tablet looks like the ones Apple engineers.
    — To be fair, not every watch looks like the Apple Watch (although someone did just steal, eh, I mean adopt, the digital crown.) It’s also fair to say those not-designed-like-Apple-Watch Watches are going exactly nowhere.

    So yeah, what a bunch of losers Apple’s designers are. Sad! They should just curl up in the corner and die. Or, perhaps, that should find solace in the fact that even though they didn’t actually create a perfect universe they did manage to put a ding in the Universe as it was.

    February 9, 2017
    • Fred Stein said:
      Yup. And.
      I guess Ian forgot about Apple’s 4″ iPhone SE, a high-end product at $399. Regarding Apple Watch, it still holds the crown (pun intended) in Smart Watches. No one else is close. Plus the rest of Smart Watch market is more fragmented than the Android phone market.
      I will agree with Ian that my Apple software experience has slipped in the last few years.

      February 9, 2017
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    Ian Bogost reinforces the adage that “those that can do, those that can’t teach”.

    February 9, 2017
  3. Gianfranco Pedron said:
    Prof. Bogost’s diatribe reads like a myopic and vain intellectual act of public self-gratification. I hope he enjoyed it.

    February 9, 2017
    • Fred Stein said:
      Yeah but he has a beard and long hair.

      February 9, 2017
  4. Fred Stein said:
    Frankly I love Apple’s spaceship. Just drove by it two hours ago.
    Nearly all other big new buildings today are showy, trying to out-do the other big new buildings, with extreme height, crazy angles, odd bulges, or yet another bird’s nest covering. Apple’s evokes a kiva, a yurt, a female vs. phallic metaphor. It’s an homage to Frank Lloyd Wright whose buildings fit in and quietly impress.

    February 9, 2017
    • Ken Cheng said:
      Yep, it’s anti-monumental. I think most people believe the opposite, because the renderings typically highlight how it will be seen from alien spaceships. The reality is from the ground, it’ll seem much smaller than it really is. Barely taller than the trees surrounding it. A 4-story building that curves away in all directions.

      February 9, 2017
  5. John Butt said:
    The great professor is clearly still a learner when it comes to a lot of apple products. As a professional user I have not found many of the so-called bugs he mentions, I suspect that is simply lack of experience.
    However I do agree a little with him on Apple Numbers which has a long way to go in basic business applications – no Pivot and no Data Tables that optimise performance – I have found ways around these and can create tables, but it is time consuming and cannot handle large files – Excel however constantly crashes unlike Numbers so we prefer Numbers for everything that does not use a pivot.
    On the other hand, Keynote and Pages leave Windows, Google and Open-source struggling to find a way to compete. Try inserting pictures or managing charts in either Apple app, it is simple and just works, then try the competition and you will find there is none.
    I have just finished a direct comparison intended to find a way around excel crashes and have ended back with Excel, due to two factors, crashing less (hard to believe but true) and can handle very large files doing simple pivot tables.

    February 9, 2017
  6. Jonathan Mackenzie said:
    “In 2008, he revealed the first run of the impossibly-thin MacBook Air by sliding it dramatically out of a manila envelope. Amazing! Less so, but not shown: the inch-thick power adapter needed to charge the device. Apple still hasn’t even attempted to reduce the size—and particularly the bulky thickness—of its power supplies, even as it has systematically reduced the girth of its computers.”

    This is why there are so many people who sound like ridiculous apologists for Apple: Because there are so many people inventing really ridiculous criticisms.

    February 9, 2017
  7. Tom Wyrick said:
    In evaluating the objectivity of Mr. Bogost’s remarks, I have one absolute data point to guide me: He is strongly critical of the ‘spaceship’ building, and casts aspersions on how it will work “in practice.” But the building is not open yet, and Mr. Bogost has never set foot inside of it. So his comments are not meaningful, and he’s just bowing off steam.

    His observations on the other Apple products (iMessage, autocorrect, etc.) are no worse or more insightful than other critics have voiced. Millions of us know those products from everyday use, and can hardly be surprised by any of his remarks. Ho-hum.

    It seems Mr. Bogost, who is also a “game designer,” had something to get off of his chest. Now he has. I feel relieved for him.

    February 9, 2017

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