Sloppiness: Apple’s inconsistent iPhone X design guides show attention to detail is no longer a priority

“Around the same time Apple rolls out each new major release of iOS, the Cupertino company also distributes its detailed Human Interface Guidelines to help appmakers design and build software in a more efficient and intuitive manner,” MIX writes for TNW. “The documentation essentially outlines the best design practices for its mobile operating system, accompanied by numerous tips on how to streamline the user experience for more meaningful engagement.”

“But it sure seems the Big A made a teeny-tiny mistake in the design guides for the new iPhone X,” MIX writes. “As you can see in the screenshot below, while the clock positioned left of the much-talked notch indicates the time is 9:41, the big clock in the first render shows a completely different time: 1:34.”

“As some Redditors have rightfully pointed out: There appear to be even more concerning discrepancies in the renders from the official guidelines,” MIX writes. “Showing two separate time indicators on the lock screen goes against anything Apple: It is counter-intuitive and thoroughly unnecessary.”

Apple iPhone X Human Interface Guidelines
Apple’s sloppiness on semi-full display

 
Apple has shown that left “ear” space occupied with the time, blank, and with a carrier name, MIX writes, “This adds up to three different ‘best design practices’ Apple has so far suggested for the upper-left notch area in one way or another. Say what you will, but this makes me think the Cupertino titan did not entirely think this through.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We don’t blast Apple for things like the ill-conceived, “inelegant kludge” that is iPhone X’s “awful notch” for kicks. It pains us to do it, but we do it because we follow Apple closely (after 60,000+ articles and Takes over 15+ years, you may have noticed; and, prior to the Internet, some of us here followed the company as closely since before the Macintosh, too). We do it because we know that APPLE’S KEY TO SUCCESS IS ATTENTION TO DETAIL, PRECISION, AND HIGH QUALITY THAT DELIGHTS CUSTOMERS WHO SUPPORT HIGH ASPs WHICH IN TURN SUPPORT HIGH PROFITS AND HIGH R&D, ENSURING AN UNENDING CYCLE.

Disrupt that cycle and you’ll lose everything for which Steve Jobs worked and stood. Apple will be right back to Apple of the mid 1990s with lackluster products, confusing out-of-control product lines, and decreased customer satisfaction. Once that snowball starts rolling, it’s all downhill from there.

We urge Tim Cook to appoint a perfectionist, fastidious czar to oversee Apple’s products and marketing. Someone who has real power, who’s a serious stickler for details, who has the taste to see things like the notch for what it is and who would nix things like inconsistent, amateurish UI and hardware design mistakes, and marketing that claims “It’s all screen” when it’s obviously not, before such embarrassments are made public.

Alrighty then.
Alrighty then.

 
Cook can focus on whatever it is he choses to focus on this week and this czar (who’s supposed to be Jony Ive, but look where we are today with inconsistencies and questionable design decisions creeping in) can focus on Apple’s products and how they’re marketed, like Steve Jobs used to do, thereby insuring consistency, killing bad design decisions on the drawing board, and keeping the quality level up to Apple’s high standard.

As with MIX above and a growing cadre who constructively criticize Apple, especially over quality and attention-to-detail concerns, we’re the canaries in the coal mine. Disregard us at your own peril.

One more time: APPLE’S KEY TO SUCCESS IS ATTENTION TO DETAIL, PRECISION, AND HIGH QUALITY THAT DELIGHTS CUSTOMERS WHO SUPPORT HIGH ASPs WHICH IN TURN SUPPORT HIGH PROFITS AND HIGH R&D, ENSURING AN UNENDING CYCLE.

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. — Steve Jobs

This is what customers pay us for – to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. — Steve Jobs

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations. — Steve Jobs

A far better, much more elegant, better looking and better functioning design solution than the one at which Apple’s Jony Ive & Co. and/or Craig Federighi inexplicably arrived, courtesy of Nodus and Gordon Kelly via Forbes from back in July shows how iPhone X’s notch should have been handled:

iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes' Gordon Kelly and Nodus
iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes’ Gordon Kelly and Nodus

 

iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes' Gordon Kelly and Nodus
iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes’ Gordon Kelly and Nodus

Even if the status bars simply stayed “sideways” when in landscape, this is a more elegant solution than Apple’s current kludge. The simple solution is oftentimes better.
Ive & Co.’s design choice is even more inexplicable when you realize they already have the answer staring them in the face all day: The Mac’s menu bar.
— MacDailyNews, September 15, 2017

SEE ALSO:
It’s not all screen: Apple’s stretching the truth with iPhone X marketing – October 3, 2017
Joshua Topolsky: Apple is really bad at design – October 1, 2017
Apple’s botched ‘notch’ atop iPhone X’s display is a design abomination – September 15, 2017
Apple is turning a design quirk into the iPhone X’s defining feature: Leaning into the notch – September 14, 2017
The lessons and questions of Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 – September 13, 2017
Apple embraces that ugly notched cutout in OLED ‘iPhone’s display – August 30, 2017
It’s time we embraced Apple’s notched/cutout OLED iPhone display – August 11, 2017
Apple patent reveals embedded Touch ID for fingerprint recognition anywhere on display – October 4, 2016
Apple granted key U.S patent for Touch ID fingerprint recognition integrated into Multi-Touch display – May 18, 2016
Apple supplier LG Innotek embeds fingerprint sensor into display – May 4, 2016
3D fingerprint sensors under Gorilla Glass may let Apple kill iPhone’s Home button – July 21, 2015
Apple working on eliminating the Home button on iPhone, iPad, sources say – June 22, 2015
Apple files for patent to move Touch ID fingerprint scanner from home button to display – February 9, 2015
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015

50 Comments

  1. I totally agree with mdn’s take on this. I was very disappointed when I saw the way Apple was going to handle the notch situation. Hopefully they will have a software update to fix their bad decision…and while their fixing their problems, maybe they can show Eddie Cue to the door too…

    1. Why do you think Apple have, in the design guidelines, told developers to essentially live with ( or ignore ) the notch. It’s for one of two reasons:

      1) To allow Apple an OUT if they get enough outcry to just change the software to make that area permanently black.

      2) Because Apple’s next gen 2019/2020 design will put the sensors under the screen.

      The bunny ears differentiates the iPhone in a sea of edge-to-edge phones, similar to what the Galaxy Edge did. They’re embracing the perceived weakness in the design to extract creativity from that limitation. The best work of an artist is usually when he’s bound by limitations.

    2. “ We urge Tim Cook to appoint a perfectionist, fastidious czar to oversee Apple’s products and marketing. Someone who has real power, who’s a serious stickler for details, who has the taste to see things like the notch for what it is and who would nix things like inconsistent, amateurish UI and hardware design mistakes, and marketing that claims “It’s all screen” when it’s obviously not, before such embarrassments are made public. “

      Way back when Tim first took over I said the thing that Apple is missing is the fear of Steve Jobs. They no longer have a laser focused “asshole” looking over everyone’s shoulder and criticizing their work. They no longer have the guy that people are afraid to ride the elevator with because they fear a conversation might reveal their unworthiness. Tim is busy being a social justice clown and diluting the ranks of the company with diversity hires.

    3. 1-how is that considered detail?
      Its in your face!

      2- lets wait untill the product is actually released with its latest ios version before we draw any conclusions.

  2. These are comments on a phone that hasn’t even been released yet. This is a brand new phone set up and I’m sure Apple will refine the look and feel with software updates.
    Making the ears of the notch black even with white main screen background may look better over all. Especially in landscape mode when watching video content.
    Remember this is Rev1 of a new set of hardware and software. There are bound to be areas of improvement and Apple typically respond quickly to glaring issues after the first release.

    1. Apple’s released the HIG with an interface not only showing the time in two places on the screen, but they didn’t even match!

      The problem is glaringly clear even if you choose not to see it.

    2. People hated the antenna lines as well. And sometimes ugly design becomes iconic design. The bunny ears are somewhat of a kludge, but I believe that it’s something that the design team at Apple feels they could make iconic.

      1. Well that is the bigger problem then. When a designer knows he has an ugly kludge on his hands but is too lazy to make it right, then making “iconic” claims is the easy excuse. I call it pathetic.

        MDN is absolutely right on this issue.

        We have already chosen the iPhone 8 over the X, and the notch definitely factored into the decision. We aren’t sold on the face ID at all either.

  3. With the notch you’ve actually got less space across the top for information. I just don’t see any positives of having it. Nobody would design a screen to be oddly shaped unless it was a massive compromise to allow something else, and in this instance that seem to be so that they can have the screen go right up to all four corners. Seems to me like they losing more than they’re gaining.

      1. Agreed. What I said was “up” is essential to know when you are *unlocking* the phone. It’s gotta be fast and intuitive. The double-black-bar situation everyone is salivating over would lead to constant second looks.

        Everyone, you’re not smarter when it comes to design than Apple’s pros. This is not a dropped ball. They tested the hell out of this and decided the notch was essential. Guaranteed it was the best choice for usability.

        1. I guess you missed the photos (two shots) that MDN posted presenting a SUPERIOR design alternative and certainly looks MORE full screen than the GLARING notch.

          The major thing Apple “tested” is totally unable to confront and correct Jony when he strays …

        2. I guess the issue then isn’t so much the notch itself, but the choice to place screen space on either side of it. In Apple’s defense, it’s easy to throw a rendering online and say how much better it looks, but it may just be impossible right now to fit the sophisticated Face ID tech into a thin black bar at the top of the phone.

        3. totally agree, all these arm chair pundits including MDN are whining but will still buy the X and you won’t hear anything further about the notch. Apple will include a blackout strip option in settings in future update, then pundits will say told you so, but image what pundits would have screamed out if cook said this at the rollout.

      2. You bring up an interesting idea. Does FaceID work if you don’t have it in ‘right-side up’ portrait orientation? e.g. unlocking phone while in landscape orientation.

  4. “APPLE’S KEY TO SUCCESS IS ATTENTION TO DETAIL, PRECISION, AND HIGH QUALITY THAT DELIGHTS CUSTOMERS WHO SUPPORT HIGH ASPs WHICH IN TURN SUPPORT HIGH PROFITS AND HIGH R&D, ENSURING AN UNENDING CYCLE.”

    Agreed.

    So why are things so ate up?
    It is mostly not a few big things, it is a thousand little things that whisper to you “design by committee” and nobody is in charge.

    Why after a SW update yesterday (beta of iOS) was I prompted to reinstall my Apple Pay on my iPhone when it was already set up? Why do pages not render correctly on Safari that do render correctly on Chrome with the exact same settings and extensions/plug-ins?

    Why are all versions of the Mac sucking hind tit regarding CPU and GPUs? Still have not seen the mythical Mac Pro but a Blacked Out Self Cooking iMac “Pro” (not) is supposed to be on sale shortly.

    1. “…it is a thousand little things that whisper…”

      Exaggerate much, Samsung/Google Troll?

      “Why…..was I prompted to reinstall my Apple Pay….”

      Ask the Banks, not Apple.

      “Why are all versions…..on sale shortly?

      Huh?

      1. Re: Paul

        I bought my first Apple product before the Macintosh- an Apple II back in the day, I learned to write BASIC on TRS-80s, Commodore PETS and Apple IIs.

        I bought my first Mac the day they became available through AFEES in Stuttgart, Germany at the old Robinson Barracks PX (now long gone and a German Apartment complex).

        My first iMac was a G3 Blue Model bought at a CompUSA because there were no Apple Stores- yet.

        I was in line opening day when Apple Store Saddle Creek opened in the Memphis Suburb of Germantown. It was one of the earliest ones to open.

        I was in line the day the OS X Public Beta was released and based upon that – bought my first Apple Stock despite the roughness of the OS.

        I did not switch to the Mac or Apple because I never switched away, unlike many who are blind fanbois who would proclaim an iTurd ( a WiFi enabled pile ) a genius stroke. I call them as I see them and I expect greatness from Apple as it is their calling card.

        So If you think I am a Samsung/ Google troll you must be mistaken. I do have a Samsung Refrigerator and I do use YouTube, but I am hardly a troll for either.

        Just as a coach does not hate player he chews on that is underperforming or a parent on a child that is not living up to their potential- I as a shareholder and customer expect more of Apple. The big question concerning Apple is will they continue to be special or are they just going to mail it in.

    2. MDN: As with MIX above and a growing cadre who constructively criticize Apple, especially over quality and attention-to-detail concerns, we’re the canaries in the coal mine. Disregard us at your own peril.

      Right!

      Fellow “canary” charter member DavGreg — spot on …

      1. I have been using the “constructive criticize” community for years as a contrarian indicator.

        NOT ONCE HAS YOUR “CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM” NEGATIVELY IMPACTED SALES.

  5. Calm down. Breathe.

    We are a step over the zealots here. Let the thing hit the market and see what time will do with it.

    Nowaday it is an Apple bash fest everytime they come out with new products. So easy and lame.

    Guys if you don’t like it, GTFO and stick with the real shiat like Google, Samsung and the like…

  6. Hahahaha sideways status bar in landscape! The hypocrisy is absolutely delicious. If they did that, the comments would be 10X worse.
    Design is about balancing compromises. Apple made a deeply thought out choice with the notch. Disagree with the decision, but don’t be so deft to think it was made haphazardously.

  7. No. Im sorry i can’t agree with your “take” here. The difference in rounded corners on your “better” design is something i cant even look at. Who says a screen has to be a rectangle?

    It’s a phone guys. It’s a company. Can we calm down with these real strong opinions here about a phone that hasn’t come out yet.

    Thanks.

    1. If the display is used only in one orientation I would agree but depending on the orientation you hold the iPhone X you’d get the notch ‘poking’ into the display area from any one of 4 sides possibly interfering with the ‘look’ of a webpage/game.

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