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    March 15, 2016

    Top 5: Worst Apple design decisions

    worst apple design decisions

    For a company that’s lauded for its design practices, Apple hasn’t always hit it out of the park. Here, we count down the 5 worst Apple design decisions!

    Each year, Apple creates several high-end videos to launch its new products. In them, Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, spends a great deal of time discussing the meticulousness with which the company approaches engineering and manufacturing its products. For the most part, the self-praise is usually justifiable; Apple has had a long history of engineering and refining beautiful pieces of tech. However, the company hasn’t always hit it out of the park, and in the build up to its March 21st event, we’re walking through the worst Apple design decisions that have been made so far.

    Without further ado, buckle in and lets get to it as we count down our top 5 worst Apple design decisions!

    worst apple design decisions

    The iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case

    We’ll say it plainly; we’ve no idea where Apple was going with this one.

    First of all, there’s a certain conundrum in producing a battery case in the first place; not only does it signify your product (the iPhone 6s) might not have the battery life your consumer will need, it means they’ll have to spend a further $200 USD to buy it.

    What could – in actual fact – have been an elegant revision on the sterling work done by Mophie turned out instead to be a broad-sided dud; Apple’s Smart Battery Case took the worst possible route through integrating a battery that was shorter than need be, and far taller than what would have been desirable. While the Apple’s attention to detail might be evident in the sculpted port openings and volume rocker coverings, as well as the Lightning integration, Apple’s smart battery case will likely stand in time as one of the company’s biggest design failures.

    Just look at it.

    Read: Apple releases the $99 USD Smart Battery Case

    worst apple design decisions

    The Magic Mouse 2

    The original Magic Mouse turned heads decisively, with some consumers loving the unit’s low profile, with others preferring the sculpted feel of traditional mouse. We frankly enjoy the touch concept on Apple’s Mac computers, but the revised Magic Mouse 2 somewhat dampened our enthusiasm.

    For the most part, the Magic Mouse 2 is nearly the same as its predecessor. The low profile and touch capabilities remain, with the largest difference being that the updated mouse brings with it a re-charging capability through a Lightning cable.

    On paper, we admit, that sounds great.

    But let’s hold on one moment, and actually take a look at how Apple chose to integrate a Lightning port. Instead of a sleek opening at the front or back of the unit, Apple instead slapped it underneath where the battery panel previously was and hoped for the best. What this amounts to is a mouse that is completely unusable while re-charging, and one at that which will undoubtedly snap a fragile Lightning cable if left precariously. Perhaps with the reveal of a Fusion Keyboard in future, we’ll be better off.

    Read: Apple patents a multitouch “œFusion Keyboard“

    worst apple design decisions

    The Apple Pencil

    We have our misgivings about the Apple Pencil – particularly, the fact that CEO Tim Cook adamantly states that its ‘not a stylus’ – but overall the Apple Pencil concept isn’t an offensive one. Sure, its design might lack a small amount of imagination – sterile white, anyone? – but in use, its a good – if expensive – companion unit to the behemoth iPad Pro.

    Using the Apple Pencil is all well and good, until it comes time to charge the unit. Ironically, the use of a Lightning cable such as the Magic Mouse 2 employs would be a more equitable decision here; instead, Apple decided that removing the Pencil’s cap and plugging it straight into an iPad somehow looked attractive.

    The chief concern we have about this is that were the offending iPad Pro moved in just the right (or wrong) way, the Lightning connector atop the Pencil will all too easily snap, giving its owner a one way ticket back to the Apple Store. As far as the worst Apple design decisions go, this could go on the list as the most nonsensical.

    Is the Pencil mightier than the sword? This time, we don’t think so.

    Read: Why Tim Cook was wrong about the Apple Pencil

    worst apple design decisions

    The iPhone 5c cover

    We could dedicate an entire article to the iPhone 5c’s questionable use of plastic as a back cover, but that’d mean we’d have less time to talk about exactly how ugly its intended cover was.

    With a design that makes the above Smart Battery Case look somewhat appealing, the iPhone 5c cover was, as Jony Ive would say, ‘unapologetically plastic’ – and how unfortunately so.

    Arriving in gaudy covers with counter-intuitive holes, the iPhone 5c cover was designed to disrespect your chosen iPhone 5c cover through any means necessary. Careful colour co-ordination went out the window with this cover, and mercifully, Apple hasn’t tried the same stunt again. As far as counting the worst Apple design decisions goes, this was a stinker.

    Read: Apple leaks updated iPhone 5c

    worst apple design decisions

    The Apple iMac USB mouse

    For our final entry, let’s hark back to the heady days of ’98, where times were good and computer mice where shaped like hockey pucks.

    Well, only one company dared to act out on the latter. Apple’s hockey puck mouse lasted for two years; its small size and round form factor made this pointer an absolute hassle to grapple with, and considering Apple’s ergonomic design focus, it would seem this product was made more for ducks than humans.

    While the world has largely forgotten about Apple’s hockey puck mouse, the joke remains that the only people who liked it where third party mouse manufacturers.

    Read: Apple sets March 21st for “œLet‘s loop you in“ spring event

    Those are our top 5 worst Apple design decisions. Which are yours? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

    Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA




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    • Shitesh Arihunta

      Not trying to be too much of a hater (or too obvious), but the *entirety* of the iTunes user interface perhaps deserves an honourable mention :P. Especially when you throw Apple Music into the mix, and you have it duplicating and mislabeling songs between your ripped CDs, songs bought on iTunes, and songs streamed the cloud 0_o.

      • I wanted to focus on hardware in this post, but excellent point! I’ve been using iTunes for years and have stuck with it, but it degenerates yearly into an even greater mess. As far as honourable mentions go, iTunes would be my first pick! 🙂

    • M? ?S? ?i? ?N? ?L?u?n?d?

      How about when you install iTunes on your PC, and it uninstalls any quicktime you already have, and then installs its own QT that no longer works with your browsers.

      And then if you uninstall that QT and installs one that works with your browser, iTunes stops working complaining that you “need to reinstall”.

      GOTO 10

      True story.
      Those were the days….