MacDailyNews Note: The MacDailyNews Takes in this post are written by SteveJack.

“The ‘notch’ on the new iPhone X is not just strange, interesting, or even odd — it is bad. It is bad design, and as a result, bad for the user experience,” Joshua Topolsky writes for The Outline. “The justification for the notch (the new Face ID tech, which lets you unlock the device just by looking at it) could have easily been accomplished with no visual break in the display. Yet here is this awkward blind spot cradled by two blobs of actual screenspace.”

“It is, put plainly, a visually disgusting element. One which undermines the core premise of the iPhone X’s design (‘all screen’), and offers a feature as an excuse which is really an answer in search of a question,” Topolsky writes. “Plenty has been written about the mind-numbing, face-palming, irritating stupidity of the notch. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about it. I would love to say that this awful design compromise is an anomaly for Apple. But it would be more accurate to describe it as the norm.”

Topolsky writes, “Once upon a time, Apple could do little wrong.”

MacDailyNews Take: Once upon a time, a guy who actually cared about and sweated over even the most minute details ran the company and forced his designers to keep going back to the drawing board until they fucking got it right or else got fucking fired. (Excuse my French.)

A perfectionist gatekeeper whom people feared would go a long, long way at today’s Apple.

Jony Ive or whichever underling is standing in for him while he dicks around for years with an office building: Your recent (post-Steve Jobs) work — from the iPhone Smart Battery Case to the Apple TV’s Siri Remote to the iPhone X’s notch — is embarrassing, amateurish, confused shit that is not worthy of the Apple logo.

In Apple’s iPhone X introduction video, Jony Ive (or the AI voice Craig Federighi whipped up to sound like Jony Ive) opens with, “For more than a decade, our intention had been to create an iPhone that is all display. A physical object that disappears into the experience. This is iPhone X.” Uh, Jony, if you haven’t noticed, I have: A black “notch” negates your “all display” goal. It also utterly fails to “disappear.” It does the exact opposite, in fact. God, I wish Steve Jobs could come back for just five minutes and provide a concise critique of your work. Without him here to tell you what to do, it is painfully obvious that you or your minions often don’t know what to do.

A team of people – talented people who actually get it and who are all on the same page – is an absolute necessity for Apple’s success, but it creates a problem: Jobs was a single filter. A unified mind. The founder. A group of people simply cannot replicate that. This is not to say that they cannot do great work (we believe Apple does, and will continue, to do great work) just that Apple is fundamentally affected by the loss of Steve Jobs and has to figure out a new way to work. — MacDailyNews, April 8, 2014

“The work was downright elegant; unheard of for an electronics company,” Topolsky writes. “Stretching perhaps from the introduction of the first iPod in 2001, through the release of the groundbreaking iPhone 4 (and subsequent refinement with the iPhone 5), Apple was regularly lauded as best-in-class when it came to hardware and software design and the synchronicity of those elements. Reviewers (yes, even me) fawned over designs that lovingly referenced ‘classic Leica[s]’ and boasted software that turned simple smartphone cameras into true photography tools. But things changed.”

MacDailyNews Take: Gee, wonder what happened?

“In 2013 I wrote about the confusing and visually abrasive turn Apple had made with the introduction of iOS 7, the operating system refresh that would set the stage for almost all of Apple’s recent design,” Topolsky writes. “The product, the first piece of software overseen by Jony Ive, was confusing, amateur, and relatively unfinished upon launch… Gone were the mock felt backgrounds and virtual dials of Steve Jobs’ iOS, but suddenly present was a set of gestures and layers purported to be part of a system that never quite clicked. Ive converted understandable buttons into confusing rubrics (the share arrow?), clustered controls into a context-free space (Control Center), and perhaps worst of all, made some really ugly icons that have never fully recovered… While this may seem like obsessive nit-picking, these are the kinds of details that Apple in its previous incarnation would never have gotten wrong.”

“Even John Gruber, the most evangelical of Apple bloggers, said this of the iPhone X’s notch: ‘It offends me. It’s ungainly and unnatural,'” Topolsky writes. “This is Apple’s biggest product of 2017?”

“And it’s not just the hardware, or the UI. The ecosystem is unwell. iTunes and Apple Music and the Podcasts app coexist on devices for reasons only Eddy Cue understands, your purchases and files floating somewhere in their digital ether, untethered to a clear system or logic,” Topolsky writes. “The ‘TV’ app maintains some awkward middle ground that attempts to lasso your subscription services, your purchased content, marketing suggestions, and the cable you probably still pay for. But none of these things seem to actually function fluidly. Example: you can buy movies and TV shows in the iTunes Store app but you have to watch them in the TV app? It’s fucking crazy.”

MacDailyNews Take: The absence of Steve Jobs grows ever more apparent with the introduction of each new Apple product, service, and app. At today’s Apple, the lack of an omnipotent arbiter of taste glares like a klieg light.

“This is not an argument about what Steve Jobs would have done; this is an argument for a central, cohesive vision that accounts for systems, not just nodes on a network. Jony Ive is clearly not providing that vision. Phil Schiller is not providing that vision,” Topolsky writes. “And Tim Cook, the all-time don of supply-chain management, cannot and will not provide that vision. So what happens now?”

MacDailyNews Take: Apple management, hopefully your eyes and ears are still open and you’ll listen to your most rabid fans/most avid product and service users, and realize that you have indeed slipped and you need to refocus not on your HQ’s 80-foot tall glass doors, but again on the most minute details of the products that you ship to customers.

For the dwindling number of you who were there when Steve was, ask yourselves WWSD: What Would Steve Do? Yes, do it! Further, ask yourselves WWSS: What Would Steve Say if I told him, for example, “For more than a decade, our intention had been to create an iPhone that is all display” and then handed him an iPhone mock up that wasn’t all-display?

“Pundits will respond to these arguments by detailing Apple’s meteoric and sustained market-value gains. Apple fans will shout justifications for a stylus that must be charged by sticking it into the bottom of an iPad, a ‘back’ button jammed weirdly into the status bar, a system of dongles for connecting oft-used devices, a notch that rudely juts into the display of a $1,000 phone,” Topolsky writes. “But the reality is that for all the phones Apple sells and for all the people who buy them, the company is stuck in idea-quicksand, like Microsoft in the early 2000s, or Apple in the 90s.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: By now, unless you’re Eddy Cue, you’ve likely gathered that I’m in near total agreement with Topolsky. In fact, we’ve been talking about the problem for years here at MacDailyNews:

Inelegant kludge.

As we wrote back in June:

“Again with that awful cutout… We doubt that Apple would execute the display in such a way as to draw attention to a black cutout containing the FaceTime camera, earpiece, etc. More likely, the thin top of the display on either side would remain off limits to anything but the deepest OLED black into which such a cutout would simply disappear. Also, why would Apple cram battery, carrier, Wi-Fi, signal strength into those areaa as it only works in portrait mode. What happens to those areas on either side of that cutout when the iPhone is in landscape mode?”

Unfortunately for those with taste and design sense, it looks like we doubted wrong. (Apple’s design “choices” as of late: Smart Battery Case, Apple TV Siri remote*, OLED iPhone notched cutout… can you tell that Jony’s either lost interest, is at Apple in name only, and/or has otherwise checked out?)MacDailyNews on iPhone X “notch,” August 30, 2017

With the Siri Remote, users can’t tell which end is up in a darkened room due to uniform rectangular shape. The remote is still too small, so it gets lost easily. All buttons are the same size and similarly smooth (the raised white ring around the menu button helps, but so barely it’s astounding that Apple even bothered; it’s a bandaid on a turd). The tactile difference between the bottom of the remote vs. the upper Glass Touch surface is too subtle as well; this also leads to not being able to tell which end is up. A larger remote, designed for hands larger than a 2-year-old’s with a simple wedge shape (slightly thicker in depth at the bottom vs. the top), as opposed to a uniform slab, would have instantly communicated the proper orientation to the user.

If Jony Ive “designed” the Siri Remote, he should forfeit his knighthood*.

*But we all know Jony has been obsessed with Apple Park for many years now and likely never even saw the piece of shit remote before they threw it in the box. — MacDailyNews, September 25, 2017

Some might say something about Apple brass being fat and happy after gorging on RSUs. Others might say that Apple has outgrown a management system from a time when they were much smaller with fewer product lines. Or that the company is distracted with moving into their spaceship or other issues that are, at best, exceedingly peripheral to where Apple’s focus should be: Delighting their customers and shipping high quality, dependable products.

Whatever the reason(s) for Apple’s seeming malaise, we’ve said it before, so we’ll say it again: From the outside, Apple, you look lazy and/or somewhat lost. Is that how you want to look to the world, Apple, much less to us “rabid fanboys?”MacDailyNews, December 9, 2016

Jony took one look at those reams of Mophie battery case patents and decided, “Yeah, I’ll delegate this one.” — MacDailyNews on Apple’s iPhone Smart Battery Case, December 8, 2015

“It just works.” That’s getting tougher and tougher for us OS X and iOS users to say with straight faces lately.

Apple, while certainly still the best when it comes to desktop and mobile operating systems, needs to do better. Our expectations, some of us as users of Apple products since the early 1980s, are not being met when it comes to the quality and reliability of operating systems, software, and services. Used to be, you could pretty confidently install brand new operating systems from Apple. Recently, we’re more inclined to wait for a few point releases than not. It’s downright Microsoftian. Lately, for the past couple of years, your software seems rushed. Is “rush job” really the impression you want to give your customers?

Some of those things lead us to wonder if perhaps you should rethink some aspects of the culture at Apple? Specifically, what really should constitute a badge of honor at Apple? Working all day, all weekend and all night in order to squat out iOS 8.0.1 and then have to turn around and do it all over again, in a panic, to get iOS 8.0.2 out the door in order to clean up the mess? Or taking the time necessary to do the job correctly the first time? — MacDailyNews, January 5, 2015

Apple has grown very quickly in recent years. There are now far more post-Jobs newbies than Apple employees who really understand the Apple mindset that made it insanely great. How well is Apple University working, really?MacDailyNews, November 7, 2015

As Apple CEO, Steve Jobs focused on two things – product design and marketing. He was a genius at both. His talents cannot be replaced with one person. In fact, his talents in either discipline cannot be replaced by one person. Jony Ive and Phil Schiller without Jobs cannot be expected to perform as if Jobs was still working with them.

A team of people – talented people who actually get it and who are all on the same page – is an absolute necessity for Apple’s success, but it creates a problem: Jobs was a single filter. A unified mind. The founder. A group of people simply cannot replicate that. This is not to say that they cannot do great work (we believe Apple does, and will continue, to do great work) just that Apple is fundamentally affected by the loss of Steve Jobs and has to figure out a new way to work. — MacDailyNews, April 8, 2014

It’s nice to say you strive to make “world-class products” for customers, Tim, it’s better to actually deliver them.MacDailyNews, September 28, 2012

SEE ALSO:
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015