Friday, September 27, 2013

Another Way Apple has Forgotten about "The Rest of Us"

At the end of last year, I wrote one of my frustration-with-Apple pieces based on what I called "my long-held conviction that 'computing for the rest of us' has now totally devolved from one of Apple's core values to a myth remembered only by older generations (such as my own)." That post was called "Apple's Loss of Significant Values: An Affirmation." These days, between the fallibility of the Weather widget and a map tool that directs you onto the middle of an airstrip in Fairbanks, Alaska, that proposition hardly requires reaffirmation. Nevertheless, there always seemed to remain the principle that, if the appearance of the toy is attractive, reliable content is a secondary matter.

Now we have a situation in which the dynamics of appearance may have gotten out of hand. Charlie Osborne's latest contribution to ZDNet sports the title "Apple's iOS 7 makes users sick." The implication is that the latest generation of animations in the user interface seems to be inducing motion sickness in at least some of the users. Osborne supports her case with excerpts from user comments. Strictly speaking, these may not be sound warrants; but they should at least point to a need for further investigation (rather like some of those fancy digital billboards that turned out to induce epileptic fits in a small segment of the population).

When I argued about that "loss of significant values," the point I wanted to make was that Apple had metamorphosed from a provider of easy-to-use utilities to an inventor of cool toys. My guess is that toys sell better than useful tools and have done so for some time. Unfortunately, we now seem to be stuck in a situation where making toys is so profitable that no one wants to make tools any more.

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