iOS design is falling apart

In recent years (really, the post-Steve Jobs era), the designers on iOS have become lax. In an effort to add new features or "improve" design, they have crippled usability and crammed buttons into places that shouldn't even be places. And without someone like Steve Jobs to send them back to the drawing board, these train wrecks now make it into production. A few examples:

"Back to App" button

When clicking a link that takes you to another app, iOS now crams a "Back to ____" link in the status bar. There are several problem with this:

  • Can't check my reception - If something isn't loading, I don't have an easy way of troubleshooting the problem.
  • Can't see if I'm on wifi or cell network - If I'm clicking on a video link, I might want to double-check to make sure I'm not going to eat through data from my cell plan.
  • Way too small of a tap area - If you read even Apple's design best practices (under Hit Targets), they'll point out that you should allow a good amount of padding for finger tapping.

And now they're a "Forward to ____" button?! Great, now I can't check my battery or diagnose why my sound isn't playing. ("Am I connected to a bluetooth device somewhere?")

Google solved this adequately within their own suite of apps, like in Chrome, by overriding the app's Back button with a button that would return you to the Google app where you came from - a very elegant solution.

Cramming in way too much, and for no good reason

Seriously? 6 apps across? And that tiny little search box? What's even the point? (I'm secretly hoping this is a bug.)

Butchering usability in Podcasts app

Try scrubbing to a specific time using your finger. Oh yeah, YOU CAN'T. The latest Apple Podcasts app makes it impossible to actually drag the time nub when it's near the edge of your screen. And if you have a case on your phone, forget it. (This is another example of Apple completely ignoring their best practices for tappable regions.)

For comparison's sake, here's a screenshot from the old Podcasts app:

It's almost like the people designing iOS these days don't even use this stuff themselves. If they actually used iOS like normal people, they'd realize that these "improvements" in design are huge steps backwards in usability.

Even more than that - with every little design inconvenience, I love iOS less and less, and while this isn't quantifiable in a focus group or user testing session, over time, I guarantee you this will begin to wear on people.