Apple’s Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Apple has at all times emphasised the depth of thought that goes into the design of its merchandise. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photograph guide launched by the corporate in 2016, Jony Ive explains how the corporate strives “to define objects that appear effortless” and “so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative.”

Questionable Design Decisions
But each as soon as in some time even Apple will get it flawed, and a tech firm’s coherent rationale for the best way a product ought to be designed can translate into end-user irritation, or perhaps a buyer’s private hell. Here we have a look again at a handful of Apple’s most questionable design selections in latest reminiscence. See in case you agree, and tell us in the feedback of every other Apple merchandise that you simply suppose did not stay as much as their billing.

1. Magic Mouse 2

Magicmouse2 1

Announced means again in 2015, the Magic Mouse 2 was heralded at its launch as one more Apple innovation, attributable to its touch-sensitive floor that may acknowledge swipes and gestures in addition to clicks. On the face of it, the smooth curves and shiny, seamless prime floor of Apple’s mouse makes it come throughout as a paragon of Apple design, till you come to cost it.

In an oft-queried resolution, Apple opted to place the charging port on the underside of the Magic Mouse 2, suggesting to many who it had sacrificed usability for design. Arguably, Apple might have positioned the port on the entrance fringe of the mouse, like most different wired and wi-fi mice, which might have allowed customers to cost it whereas utilizing it on the similar time. But no.

In April 2021, six years later, Apple introduced the most recent iMac, which boasts varied neat purposeful design tweaks over its predecessors, just like the Ethernet port in the charging brick, for example. The Magic Mouse 2 comes included with the brand new iMacs and even sports activities a number of colours to match the all-in-one machines, however Apple nonetheless expects customers to flip over their mouse and plug in a Lightning cable, which makes it not solely unusable but additionally barely pathetic-looking.

Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 initially went on sale in the United States for $79 and that is the identical worth you will pay for it in the present day.

2. Apple/Siri Remote (2015-2021)

Siri Remote

It’s exhausting to downplay the quantity of venom that is been aimed on the authentic Siri Remote since Apple first included it with the Apple TV in 2015, and in case you by no means acquired to make use of the factor, which may appear a bit harsh.

After all, it had a clickable touchpad on the prime that responded to swipes and gestures for navigating tvOS, and two uncomplicated columns of buttons clearly positioned under for controlling media playback. It even had an accelerometer and doubled as a recreation controller.

All good, you would possibly suppose. But in observe, most customers agreed it was an absolute clanger and an ergonomic catastrophe. The consensus was that Apple’s Remote design was too small and too skinny, which meant when it wasn’t making your arms look worryingly big it had acquired misplaced down the again of the couch or between the cushions.

Then there was its non-intuitive button structure, which might be gauged finest by the extent of frustration that attended mistakenly urgent the ‌Siri‌ button to get again to the menu. Even now, few can have forgotten the very excessive sensitivity of the glass touchpad that typically made onscreen navigation a bit like watching Olympic curling.

All of this in fact assumed you hadn’t been holding it backwards, which just about each person did on a minimum of a weekly foundation. Thanks to its uncompromising symmetry, one finish of the distant was virtually indistinguishable from the opposite in low mild. Not solely that, the Remote solely got here in black and had no backlighting to talk of, as if Apple had deliberately got down to make finding it in the darkish some type of twilight problem.

In a transfer that seemingly saddened no-one, Apple banished the ‌Siri‌ Remote to the annals of tech historical past in 2021 when it unveiled the most recent ‌Apple TV‌ 4K and a much-improved, all-new Siri Remote with a brand new clickpad interface providing five-way navigation.

3. Apple Pencil (1st Gen)


Another machine that falls into the goofy-looking-when-charging class is the first-generation Apple Pencil, which was launched in 2015, the identical yr because the Magic Mouse 2. Apple constructed a male Lightning connector below the cap that permits it to be plugged into an iPad for energy, which form of is smart if you concentrate on it.

In most conditions when the ‌Apple Pencil‌ runs out of energy, there’s an ‌iPad‌ proper there to plug it into, and to be truthful, it fees fairly quick, providing round half-hour of utilization after being plugged in for less than 15 seconds. In that sense, it simply works. But there is not any getting round the truth that additionally simply appears to be like bizarre.

This might arguably be a case of Apple selecting operate over type, but it surely would not seem to have taken into consideration the potential injury that might be inflicted on each units in case you by accident wack the pencil on one thing when it is plugged in. How many ‌iPad‌ Lightning ports have been killed consequently stays unknown.

When the ‌Apple Pencil‌ is plugged in and charging, you clearly cannot cost your ‌iPad‌ (except you plug the pencil into an iPhone, say) and except you are utilizing the ‌iPad‌ in panorama orientation, it makes utilizing your pill awkward. In different phrases, you’ll be able to’t cost the pencil and the pill on the similar time.

Apple nonetheless sells the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ for $99, however fortunately it adopted magnetic charging for the second-generation model, thus restoring a partial sense of concord to the ‌iPad‌ lineup.

4. AirPods Max Smart Case

Airpods Max Smart Case Hands On

When Apple unveiled its $599 high-end AirPods Max over-ear headphones in 2021, there was as a lot on-line chatter about Apple’s included Smart Case because the headphones themselves.

Apple says the case is designed to place the ‌AirPods Max‌ into an “ultra-low power state that helps to preserve battery charge when not in use.” Granted, that is helpful when your headphones do not include a correct off change, but it surely’s the odd look of the case that appears to set off uncommon associations in the thoughts.

The Smart Case rapidly birthed an avalanche of memes, which have irreverently in contrast it to all kinds of issues, from purses to undies, and even physique components. Bra comparisons apart although, most would agree that Apple appears to have de-prioritised the practicalities of journey in its pursuit of iconic vogue. Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

I don’t know what is going on on with the AirPods Max case, which is a goofy one-piece contraption that is folded and glued over on itself to type a case. It appears to be like very very similar to a handbag when wrapped across the headphones, which is directly enjoyable and intelligent and in addition not the purpose of a headphones case that should survive in a backpack. It doesn’t seem very protecting, appears like it would get soiled quick, and customarily doesn’t maintain a candle to the great exhausting circumstances that include nearly each different set of premium headphones.

You’d suppose {that a} case that comes with a pair of premium headphones supplies them with safety when tossed right into a backpack, however with regards to Apple’s Smart Case, many customers would urge you to suppose once more. The lack of protection supplied by the case materials leaves the headphone’s metallic so susceptible to scratches that you simply’d be forgiven for erring on the aspect of warning and carrying them in your hand as a substitute for everybody to see. And possibly that is the purpose.

5. Butterfly Keyboard (2015-2019)

Macbook Pro Butterfly Keyboard

Apple in 2015 and 2016 launched up to date keyboards for its pared-down MacGuide and MacGuide Pro machines, debuting new butterfly keys with dwelling switches beneath every key that minimized thickness with out shedding that satisfying press below the fingers. Sadly, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than Apple’s butterfly keyboard was known as out as one of many firm’s worst design selections due to their rage-inducing penchant for failure.

All butterfly keyboards in MacGuide Pro, MacGuide, and MacBook Air fashions launched between 2016 and 2019 (and 2015 in the case of the MacGuide) had butterfly keys that merely could not stand the check of time. The mechanism was so delicate and fragile that the tiniest piece of grit might break a key. What made issues worse was Apple’s laptop computer development, which meant changing that single borked key required taking your MacGuide to an Apple restore heart the place your complete machine needed to be fully disassembled.

In 2016, as a substitute of changing the keyboard wholesale, Apple launched a second-generation model, suggesting the problems had been fastened. However, damaged keys continued to be reported, a lot to Apple’s chagrin. Rather than admitting defeat, nevertheless, Apple continued to beat its favourite lifeless horse by tweaking the butterfly mechanism in successive machines launched in 2018 and 2019. But the complaints did not go away.

In May 2018, a spate of sophistication motion lawsuits had been introduced in opposition to Apple on behalf of customers who had been affected by damaged butterfly keys and had been offended that Apple had refused to honor its guarantee obligations and repair the keyboards totally free.

A month later, Apple implicitly acknowledged the problems when it launched an “extended keyboard service program,” for MacBooks outfitted with butterfly keys, and in May 2019, this system was expanded to embody all MacGuide fashions outfitted with a butterfly keyboard, though an outright admission that it had put its religion in a foul design was by no means forthcoming.

In a notable swipe at Apple for its refusal to just accept its design was intrinsically flawed, the Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern printed an editorial typed up on one of many faulty keyboards, however with out corrections. The article went mainstream, publicly embarrassing Apple.

We’ll seemingly by no means know the way widespread the keyboard issues had been, however we do know Mac customers breathed a collective sigh of reduction when Apple unveiled the 2019 16-inch MacGuide Pro with a redesigned “Magic” keyboard with a scissor change mechanism that includes 1mm of journey, an inverted “T” association for the arrow keys, and a bodily Escape key subsequent to the Touch Bar.

6. Mac Pro (2013-2019)

2013 Mac Pro

“Can’t innovate, my ass,” remarked Apple’s Phil Schiller throughout the announcement of the redesigned Mac Pro in 2013. It was a second of on-stage hubris that will go down in Apple lore, on par with Steve Jobs’ “You’re holding it wrong” in the face of ‌iPhone‌ 4 antenna points. Schiller’s snipe was directed not on the viewers in attendance, however at armchair critics who pointed on the current ‌Mac Pro‌’s lack of upgrades and claimed Apple had largely deserted its professional person base and was out of concepts.

Apple believed its radical imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the professional desktop proved the naysayers flawed. Indeed, regardless of its comparatively area of interest market in comparison with the attraction of its different smash-hit merchandise, Apple was exhibiting it had gone to nice engineering lengths to innovate. And innovate it had. Apple mentioned its new ‌Mac Pro‌ supplied twice the general efficiency of the earlier technology whereas taking on lower than one-eighth of the amount, due to its unified thermal core. Everything inside was cooled by one massive fan on the prime, which might spin extra slowly than smaller followers and maintain the Mac quiet below heavy load.

Schiller Mac Pro

‌Phil Schiller‌ unveiling the redesigned ‌Mac Pro‌ in 2013

Intel Xeon processors had been twinned with twin AMD HearthPro workstation GPUs, enabling the machine to ship seven teraflops of computing energy. But whereas the highly effective {hardware} and the black aluminum cylinder that housed all of it was unmistakably Apple-esque in its ambitions, there have been notable considerations. Everything was cleverly designed to enhance thermal dissipation, however that meant enlargement needed to be served externally by Thunderbolt 2 ports.

Most inventive execs could not overlook its lack of inside slots to improve graphics playing cards and add extra reminiscence. Even Apple appeared uncertain how one can replace its internals – as lately as 2019, it was attainable to purchase a garbage can ‌Mac Pro‌ from Apple with out hardly an replace in the six years since its launch.

Apple was all too conscious of the criticism its ‌Mac Pro‌ redesign had attracted, and ended up doing one thing out of character. The famously secretive firm rarely reveals its plans for brand spanking new merchandise, however felt it needed to assuage rising considerations from the Mac’s professional base that the corporate had misplaced its means.

At a meeting with reporters in 2017, Apple executives apologized and admitted the 2013 ‌Mac Pro‌ mannequin had been a mistake, having been designed right into a thermal nook. To rectify the scenario, Apple promised a brand new modular ‌Mac Pro‌ system extra akin to its conventional “cheese grater” tower design, a brand new exterior show, and a brand new ‌iMac‌ Pro mannequin for skilled customers. This time Apple did ship on its guarantees, and the “trashcan” ‌Mac Pro‌ was laid to relaxation in 2019.