“There’s a war on buttons. No, not the clothing kind; bulging American waistlines are the biggest threat they face. This war is against buttons of the electronic variety, those tireless servants that dot elevators, cell phones, car dashboards and control panels the world around. They’re the perfect antidote to baffling binary of a switch. One button, one function, press here to power/submit/self-destruct. Simple? Yes. Elegant? Apparently not,” Dan Fletcher writes for TIME Magazine.
“Or at least that’s the thinking at Apple, who released an update to their iPod Nano [sic. It’s “shuffle.”] line on March 11 that’s completely devoid of buttons. It shouldn’t be surprising — if the offensive against buttons has a four-star general, it’s Steve Jobs. He and his Apple army have stripped buttons from iPhones, iPods and MacBooks all in the name of their clean, sleek aesthetic. Apple’s — trendsetter extraordinaire — has put the button on notice. If this trend continues, the button stands to go the way of the crank or dial: uncouth, uncool, unloved, unremembered,” Fletcher writes.
“The button wouldn’t be in serious trouble today without the pernicious crusade of Steve Jobs. The new iPod Shuffle [sic. Almost, it’s “shuffle” with a lowercase “s.”] is just the latest salvo in an ongoing battle, dating back to Apple’s early days. For nearly a decade, Apple’s mouse famously included just a single button (right-clicking be damned!). After years of complaints from users, Apple released a new “Mighty Mouse” in 2005 that still featured just a single button, although the design incorporated technology that allowed the mouse to detect clicks in different directions. This was deemed more acceptable — or at least less blasphemous — than just adding a second button,” Fletcher writes.
“And that’s just a simple mouse: Apple has waged similar battles with each of its product lines,” Fletcher writes. “The latest MacBook laptops remove buttons from the trackpad entirely; users click either with a tap of the finger or by pressing the entire trackpad down. The first iPod had five buttons; the current iPod Touch [sic.] and iPhone have just two. Apple’s even expanding the battlefield to its stores — the elevator in the Tokyo Apple Store has no buttons; it simply stops on every floor.”
Fletcher writes, “The new iPod Nano [sic. Sheesh, back to “Nano.” He means “shuffle.”] design certainly hasn’t won universal praise, with some calling the design changes ‘needless.'”
MacDailyNews Take: Not as needless as this poorly-researched article. Tell millions of runners, cyclists, etc. that the new iPod shuffle design is “needless.” As MacDailynews Reader and marathoner “Peter” told us via email: “The new iPod shuffle might confound fat-assed couch potatoes, but for those of us who plan to live past age 70 while not overburdening the U.S. health care system beyond its breaking point, the new iPod shuffle is a godsend.”
Fletcher continues, “But astute observers notice that the Nano [sic] isn’t entirely buttonless. They’ve simply been moved to a new set of Apple proprietary headphones, required to use the device. (Notice how well Apple’s PR photo hides that fact?) Users wanting to use their own existing headphones will have to purchase a special adapter cable.”
MacDailyNews Take: You mean users who want the world’s smallest iPod might have to buy a $9.99-$19.99 control cable? Quelle tragédie! How, oh, how will they ever survive. (Read that last line as if spoken by Steve Wright.) Yes, even though we’re on record as saying that Apple should have included a control cable in the box along with their earbuds as a two-piece unit so users could use their own headphones, we still don’t think it’s a big deal (provided that Apple or third-parties get inexpensive control cables out soon).
Fletcher continues, “If Apple didn’t have such a vindictive history against buttons, it would be easy to write off the new ‘buttonless’ Nano [sic] as a marketing ploy… Still, new Nano aside, the button’s days may be numbered. Touchscreen and tablet PCs are becoming more popular, and the latest generation of cellphones like the iPhone incorporate gestures and on-screen keyboards. Microsoft is touting its next-generation Surface technology, bringing the day of the massive Bond-esque touchscreen ever closer. The button may be on its last legs, but may I offer one humble request: Please, leave them in elevators. Making 23 separate stops on the way up to work isn’t my idea of a gleaming future, Mr. Jobs.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Idiotic, error-filled, inconsistent, biased tripe. Par for TIME’s course. Possibly even a birdie. No wonder print is dying. What are you guys shooting for exactly, going from 4.2 million in 1997 to under 2 million in paid circulation this year?
[UPDATE: 11:22am EDT: TIME has updated their article to replace all “Nano” references with “Shuffle.” They still don’t grasp that the “s” in “shuffle” is supposed to be lowercase, neither have they corrected their mobile version of the article here. We’d tell them about the merits of using a single content database, but they obviously have enough problems on their hands.]