fawny.org: Apple design faux pas

Apple design faux pas

“OS X, the great polarizer”

Note: When I first wrote this back in November 2000, I hoped it would form the kernel of a Weblog on coverage of Mac OS X. But the article ended up deploying OS X as an example of Apple’s unsung history of design mistakes. OS X now officially exists, so I’ve turned this oddball appendix of a page into a gripe session on Apple’s design faux pas. Feel free to write in with your own nominations.

  1. QuickTime 4
  2. Unusable but gorgeously symmetrical and translucent puck mouse, attractive to executives who are not stuck using the damn thing
  3. Quasi-fascistic centred design æsthetic
    1. Centred Apple logos on monitors, clashing significantly with left-justified menus in OS ≤9, leading to...
    2. Decoy, ornamental centred Apple logo in X, falsely resembling functioning Apple menu of yore
    3. Centred Dock (definitive ArsTechnica coverage), growing from centreline with each addition, defeating the muscle memory (proprioception) you build up with the spatially-oriented OS ≤9 (definitive ArsTechnica coverage; definitive AskTog coverage)
    4. Centred CD eject button, connected by flimsy strut to left-mounted OEM eject button
  4. Substandard keyboards
    1. Keyboards with no power keys
    2. Keyboards too small to type on
    3. Complete obsolescence and incompatibility of former bulletproof, built-like-a-tank ADB keyboards, even with ADBUSB adapters
      • Rest in peace, Extended Keyboard II, Alps GlidePoint, and even Apple Adjustable Keyboard
      • Steve Jobs has been hostile to typing for decades; it took years to get arrow keys and a Forward Delete key, itself vying with the Power key as most vulnerable and expendable key; see keyboard articles
  5. Severe usability defects with the G4 Cube, a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh manqué
    1. Reset switch and all ports on bottom (and remember, you can no longer use the Control-Command-Power reset key sequence because there is no power key on the board)
    2. No external handle to turn Cube over
    3. Cube power switch on top, where you will rest the Cube to manipulate cables
    4. Top of Cube cannot be covered without putting it to sleep
      • Find me one designer on this planet whose computer isn’t piled high with papers, boxes, remote controls, dildos, model ships, replica Citroëns, and the like; mine’s got an entire monitor on it
  6. Monitor incompatibilities due to new digital interface
  7. Colour of front speakers on iMac
  8. Gigantic icons, first in AppleWorks 6, now in OS X, that defeat the purpose
  9. Aqua colour scheme (which, when defeated by switching to grey, goes entirely unmissed; as editors like to say, “kill your darlings”)
  10. Throbbing default buttons that don’t look or act like buttons
  11. A kind of ethnic cleansing in localization (op. cit.)

Got your own suggestions?

Updated 2002.05.05

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See also: X OS X, the Straightedge Operating System