Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Apple's war on usefulness and its own customers

After wading into the incompetent mess that was the cell-phone market before the iPhone and improving it, Apple has done a 180 and is now driving it backward.

Apple continually degrades its products, waging a war on usefulness and its own customers. The removal of the headphone jack is the latest and most offensive insult to customers and consumers in general. Apple and Jony Ive continue to call the public stupid, by releasing ever-more-crippled and anti-customer designs. And their only excuse is the long-tired and unasked-for marketing gimmick, "thinner."

The majority of customers have declared that Apple's iPhone design is a failure. How do we know this? They bury the "thin, elegant" iPhone in a tacky, bulky case. And with Jony Ive's insistence that you don't need a battery in your phone, those cases are even bulkier and tackier because they must also serve as the battery. Even Apple was compelled to release an embarrassing humpbacked condom for its flagship product.

Another testament to Apple's design failure is the legions of people carrying a power brick and wad of wire around with their "thin, elegant" iPhone, begging bartenders to plug them in or crawling under tables at restaurants to do so themselves. Ask anyone in the industry: Service establishments are having to lay down employee rules and policies about this behavior, a behavior that could easily be made nonexistent by simply putting a proper battery in the phone.

And then there are the functional and UI defects. The most embarrassing of which has existed since day one of the first iPhone, and has inexplicably not been fixed (an extremely simple fix at that): no audible notifications of missed calls. Seriously, on A PHONE. There's simply no excuse for this.

How about another software blunder, which causes people to miss flights and appointments and who knows what else? Yes, it's Apple's ridiculously incompetent calendar, which (without your permission) changes the times of appointments when you travel. And there's no way to prevent this behavior.

Then there's the UI, which is increasingly based on Easter eggs and secret "gestures." This is lazy, incompetent design. After setting the standard for phone UI and just nailing it with the best mobile browser right out of the gate, Apple is going backward fast. Now we have controls disguised as plain text. We have a music player where most of the toolbar controls are useless junk, and selecting a song doesn't bring up its album art and metadata anymore. We have an address book that once let you select a group (say, "Doctors") and go into it with one tap, but now inexplicably makes you go to the groups list, find and deselect the group you were showing, then find and select the one you want to see, and then dismiss the list. WTF? Who works like that?

The sad part is that Apple hasn't reached the bottom. They continue to call you stupid more aggressively and in more ways, making your investment in the Apple ecosystem less and less useful... and yet people still serve as tools and apologists for this behavior.

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