Don Jones

Tech | Career | Musings

I always felt that one of the reasons Windows 8 did poorly was that it wasn’t intuitive, even on a touch device. I must have installed it fifty times in various VMs, and always had to sit through the stupid, “let us show you where the secret buttons live” tutorial. And always said, “if you have to have a tutorial, you did it wrong.”

And I’d point to Apple’s touch devices. An iPad needs two basic gestures to operate: the Home button, which is fairly obvious, and a poke on the screen – also fairly obvious. Pinch-and-zoom is almost instinctive. Love or hate Apple, but they did a good job with a simple, intuitive UI. And I’m aware that some bits they simply copied from others.

Anyway, as I read about iOS 9, I think the maturity and increasing complexity of the OS is starting to lose the UI simplicity I liked. On an iDevice home screen now, you’ll have “slide to unlock” (intuitive, and always been there). You’ll have “slide up from the right” to access the camera, “slide up from the left” to access location-specific apps, and “slide up from off-screen to the center” to get Control Center. You’ll have “slide down from top off-screen” for Notification Center, and now bloody “slide from left off-screen” to get the “Proactive menu.” Almost none of this screen origami is intuitive.

This is where – ironically – maybe Apple could learn something from Windows or Android. Both mobile operating systems have always offered more customization (and therefore more complexity), and came up with different ways of exposing that functionality (and complexity) so people could actually find it. Yeah, maybe that means stashing some icons on the home screen and “cluttering it up.”

And I know, I’ll get used to swipe-from-left and whatever else they invent. Provided I stop using a case, which already makes swipe-from-top challenging. And I know, Steve Jobs’ ghost doesn’t want me using a case anyway. But it just seems like Apple’s not innovating on the UI – they’re just hiding bits of it. Seems annoying.

But I’m very excited about Go Back to App.

2 thoughts on “Apple’s Losing Some of the UI Mojo I Loved

  1. My 2 year old figured out how to navigate Windows 8.1 in one setting all by himself. The older we get the harder it is to just poke something with a stick and see what happens.

  2. Jaded Treebeard says:

    Can’t help but agree.. I’m looking forward to iOS 9, but I definitely think they’re losing some of the UI simplicity.. Seems that they’ve forgotten some of Jobs’ beliefs in simplicity.

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