Thoughts on Joshua Topolsky’s “Apple is really bad at design” essay

I find it remarkable when people write with judgment, with venom. Joshua Topolsky’s “Apple is really bad at design” post is full of both.

The tone is over the top, the headline clickbait, and there’s a constant sense of “Apple is doomed” and “Steve would never have allowed this” that there seems no shortage of in the press.

I do agree with some of the points in the post. Every one of them was a complaint about design in the service of compromise.

There’s the Apple Pencil having no home, being eminently losable, and charging by sticking straight out of the iPad. But as a product? It’s outstanding, beautifully balanced, a marvel of low latency. The Apple Pencil is an incredible achievement.

There’s the removal of the headphone jack and the ungainly dongle use it forces. This image makes the point.

The idea was to promote bluetooth headphones, the design a compromise to serve a future that arrived with the AirPods.

But the tipping point for this article is the iPhone X notch.

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.

I am not at all a fan of the notch design. But I do see the notch and the iPhone X as the first steps on a brand new path for Apple.

The early versions of Mac OS X (the macOS predecessor that coincided with Steve’s return to Apple, the one based on Unix) were full of compromise. The original design was a bridge between the long established look and feel of the original Mac and this newfangled NeXT OS. At the time, there were many complaints, and most were valid.

To me, the notch represents a compromise. I won’t pretend any insight into Apple’s thinking, but I can sense the design pressure forced by the addition of Face ID and the need to ship product.

But the notch is the bridge to the future. I think of the iPhone X as the first of a new product type, a phone spec’ed with different hardware requirements, built from the ground up to serve future technologies like augmented reality.

Over time, I expect that hardware/camera/AI advances will allow the notch to get much smaller and, perhaps, disappear altogether.

  • Glaurung-Quena

    “The idea was to promote bluetooth headphones, the design a compromise to serve a future that arrived with the AirPods.”

    And to make room for a bigger camera in a phone that was already crammed to the gills, without shrinking the battery.

    • wince

      Yes. This was much more the driving force than the AirPods. If they hadn’t needed the space, the jack would still be there, AirPods or no AirPods.

      • Kip Beatty

        I disagree. Once Apple decided the future was wireless, the headphone jack was gone. That’s how they roll and that’s the only way to push the industry forward. You see this on the Mac all the time, where space wasn’t a limiting issue, yet ports disappear once Apple decides the future of the tech.

        • Jurassic

          Exactly! Apple has always led the way in removing obsolete technologies in order to embrace newer, better technologies.

          I remember when Apple came out with the first iMac, and to everyone’s “horror” it didn’t have a floppy disk drive! Windows PCs took years later to finally give up on the floppy disk.

          The iMac was (probably) the first computer to come standard with a CD-ROM drive. And it got rid of all of the legacy connectors (ADB, SCSI, etc.) and replaced them with a new connector called USB.

          We are living in a wireless world now. Our phones are wireless, our laptops are wireless, and the majority of headphones being sold for mobile in the past two years are wireless too.

          And with the current Bluetooth 5 we have data transfer rates of 2Mbps, and a range of up to 600 feet. For mobile audio purposes, high-end (Sennheiser, Bose, etc.) Bluetooth wireless headphones delivers the same audio quality with AAC or aptX whether they are being used wirelessly or wired.

  • Kip Beatty

    This dovetails nicely with his hit piece on the iPad about a month ago. Josh is trying to get the same readership at his new gig he used to enjoy at his prior stops. Nothing like a few “clickbait” style Apple slams to drive clicks.

    • Janak Parekh

      You mean, very wimpy Twitter feud? The one where he rants about the iPad not being a laptop, then when faced with criticism, retreats back into the “Apple fanboys attacking me” trope?

      There’s a reason Josh has faded into the limelight.

      (I love my iPad Pro 12.9″, BTW, and basically don’t use a computer at home anymore.)

    • Sigivald

      I’ve always found Topolsky interesting and thoughtful … on software, which is his bread and butter.

      This sort of thing is a lot less interesting than his thoughts on software development and architecture.

    • SuperMatt

      Seems like he can’t hold down a job. I wonder why?

  • Mo

    Looks like the Chris Wallace of tech gossip needed more clicks.

  • wince

    This issue, to me, isn’t the existence of the notch. It’s Apple forcing it to be used, especially in landscape. There’s no excuse for that, and that makes it bad design. Inexcusably bad, hockey puck mouse level bad, design.

    • Kip Beatty

      How are they forcing it to be used? Where? This is why it’s a non issue to me. Don’t want it in your video? Give it a quick double tap. Don’t want your app content to wrap around it, develop your app so it doesn’t.

      Vertically, it’s used almost exclusively for status bar function. Would people really have preferred that the entire area of the camera system be unusable screen space and the status bar moved below killing all that useable space?

      • you don’t even need to tap a video to avoid the notch, since by default videos are pillarboxed and don’t expose the notch.

        apps will show it, but app content is in the Safe Box or whatever and thus don’t scroll under the notch.

    • Herding_sheep

      So you hide it with a black bar on the top and bottom. Explain to me how that changes usability or UI in any way? Its simply aesthetic, period. The application content and controls are all contained within the display “safe area” which means no actual content or controls extend into the notch in either portrait or landscape. The only thing Apple is doing is extending BACKGROUNDS into the corners.

      Why? Well, because it probably looks a whole lot more impressive in person. Seeing a screen with such smooth curves and radii following the geometry of the enclosure. Apple put all that work into developing this display that follows the housing geometry, what would be the point of hiding it? Your focal point is going to be concentrated on the center of the screen, where the content and controls live, the bleeding of the background into the corners will be in your peripheral view which I imagine is simply to give this sensation of immersion in an all-screen edge to edge device.

      I strongly suspect this effect will be more striking in person. And if you hide the notch with a black bar, you lose the effect entirely, and then it just looks like a thin forehead. Which would make all of the work they put into the shape of the display with smooth curves completely wasted.

      • bingo. using a thing is much different than seeing images on a screen.

  • komocode

    Too bad his site The Outline is terribly designed itself. I can’t even read the headlines on the homepage.

    Also the most ridiculous statement is: “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.”

    Does Josh REALLY want a bloated iTunes app? Is it that hard to buy a movie from the store, go “home”, and “turn on the “TV”?

    • Sigivald

      Yeah, that’s dumb.

      “You can’t use content in the store app?!?”

      One tool for one job, Josh.

  • JohnDoey

    This essay clearly goes out of its way to be uncontroversial. The points that are made are really indisputable. If you can’t get your mind around this essay, you are drunk on Kool-Aid. We used to complain much more than this right to Steve Jobs personally through his email and he would write back in agreement and say they will fix it. That is how you support the platform that you use: by complaining when the direction is wrong so that the people at Apple who have been charged with maintaining the platform know that it is wrong and can go in a new direction. The alternative approach results in Windows.

    The thing that is clear is that Jony Ives has a very academic view of design, where he is designing to please Design Professors and win Design Awards. The problem is that Steve Jobs got us all addicted to a more practical kind of design where he always knew he was making tools for real people. Jony Ives is making another item for his design portfolio. Steve Jobs famously encouraged the designers of the original Mac to shave the bootup time down to the smallest possible number so that across the user base, whole human lifetimes would be saved. Jony Ives didn’t balk at just wiping out the user interface for 1 billion users as an experiment.

    • the right time to remove the iPhone headphone port was in iPhone X

    • the right way to introduce USB-C was to add 4 USB-C ports on the other side of the MacBook and leave the existing ports where they are and then 3–4 years later, remove the legacy ports

    • they should have added a new hardware button in iPhone 5 that is a camera shutter that takes a photo no matter what context

    • the right way to get from iOS 6 to 11 was in 5 equal steps that did not sabotage 1 billion users

    • the right way to do icons on a platform with 1 billion users in hundreds of languages and with a million apps is to make them like music albums (iOS 1–6) not road signs (iOS 6–11) because there is not enough variation in a road sign design language to scale to millions of apps in every possible field of human endeavor, so we have icon after icon now that is basically just a random Unicode glyph on a screen filled with random Unicode glyphs

    • getting rid of onscreen buttons on a device where the screen is made up of a million buttons and the entire UI is based on buttons was so harmful to the user that it still feels mendacious to me

    • the iPhone X notch draws too much attention to itself, same as the iOS 7–11 status bar draws too much attention to itself

    • the current Apple TV remote is so bad that I stopped buying Apple TV

    • 9 out of 10 times, just making the devices thinner is the right thing to do, but every once in a while it is not the right thing — when the average hours that a user uses their iPhone daily went from 1 to 4 in a single year, the device and battery should have gotten bigger — when the MacBook Pro got down to 1 inch thick, they should have stayed at 1 inch and ramped up the power

    • the way Apple transitioned from hard drives to SSD was managed very badly — they profiteered, they sold MacBook Pros with 128 GB storage for years, and after selling 160 GB iPods in 2005 they were selling iPhone 6S with 16GB to people who did not know what “16GB” even means and either iOS 9 or 10 failed to update for almost 50% of users because they did not have the free storage to download the update

    • all i see is opinion dressed as facts.

    • Sigivald

      the right way to introduce USB-C was to add 4 USB-C ports on the other side of the MacBook and leave the existing ports where they are and then 3–4 years later, remove the legacy ports

      Because it needs that many goddamn ports?

      Maybe add one and keep the legacy ports, possibly – though I’m not sure there might not be PCI lane or controller issues with doing that.

      But “add four”? What’s the purpose of that, in 2015 or 2017?

      • Sigivald

        (I mean, I agree that touch should have moved to Mac by now, but I think laptops, not the all-in-ones.

        I wanted to touch the screen on my MBA all the time; I do so on my Surface Pro.

        I never, ever want to do touch on a vertical screen, nor does anyone else, outside of a point-of-sale environment or the like.

        Monkey arms. It’s a thing. Just, no.)

        • Mayson

          After long sessions of iPad use, I often find myself reaching out to touch my iMac screen, wanting to click a link or a button. I also occasionally use duet display for a touchable Mac screen, and if it was a little bit less clumsy I would use it all the time.

      • Kip Beatty

        …and anyone following Steve’s history at Apple knows the way it was done is EXACTLY how it would have done it. See any legacy floppy drives or ADB and serial ports on the original iMac?

        Oh, and people like Josh bitched to high heaven then just as they do now. Only, they didn’t have the Steve Jobs straw man to pull out then. Then it was simply “this is why Jobs failed the first time at Apple and why he’ll fail again.”

        • Herding_sheep

          Bingo. It amazes me how people like Josh are able to manipulate their memories. Before they had the Steve Jobs straw man, they were calling him a clueless washed-up hack who didn’t know what he was doing. Now that he’s not there, he was the single thread keeping the fabric of Apple together.

          People just can’t stand change or unique takes on things. They want Apple to be just like every other commodity PC/Phone maker. Just deliver us what WE want. Don’t deliver the unexpected, and don’t dare to do anything controversial.

          This to me is the single greatest indicator to me that Apple is still Apple. The cojones they still have to make very controversial design decisions means to me that they’re still being bold and taking risks. Which is what Steve Jobs stood for.

  • Meaux

    How is the notch a forced design pressure? You can easily make that case for the camera bump. If they needed the room up top for the camera, the notch could have been a straight line. The notch strikes me as a way to claim the screen goes edge to edge, usability be damned. That strikes me as more of a Samsung move than an Apple one, TBH.

  • CuJo YYC

    No one seems to consider the notch as marketing and branding. In a world of round-cornered rectangular smart phones, with cases concealing the manufacturer’s logo, the notch is an instantly recognizable design choice marking the user as an iPhone X user.

    Give it a thought.

    • steve_webb

      The people of Apple have really learned how to play the anti-Apple pundits. Look at the amount of press coverage given to FaceID; then imagine how much coverage it would have gotten if Craig had not “accidentally” flubbed the demo. If the demo had gone flawlessly, and Craig had spent even one-tenth the time explaining FaceID security during the demo as he did afterward, the demo would have been dismissed as “boring”.

      And then there is the “notch”! Not only is it instantly recognizable, it is recognizable due to the notoriety manufactured by those same pundits.

      Apple PR can’t innovate, my ass!

      • Jurassic

        “Apple PR can’t innovate, my ass!”

        I think (hope) you are being facetious. Neither of those things were ingenious marketing schemes.

        Was the non-flubbed demo (the first iPhone X defaulted to passcode because it had registered other faces before Craig got to it) of Face ID planned? Hardly! Even if the first phone hadn’t been scanning other faces beforehand, and worked right away (as the second one did), I’m sure that Apple would have gotten the same amount of publicity because of the innovative nature of Face ID… Without any of the negativity.

        Is the “notch” on the iPhone X a design that a marketing genius came up with? Of course not! It is the area that contains the various cameras, projector, and other components for Face ID, that can’t be hidden under the display.

        Yes, Apple marketing has had excellent examples of top-notch campaigns and methods to get PR attention… But these two ain’t it. 🙄

        • steve_webb

          I’m watching this movie called “Gifted” the other night. When the grandmother wants to display her superior ability to provide, she gifts the star a MacBook. That’s product placement, “Ho Hum”. The uncle learns of his mother’s deceit via a picture on his iPhone, more product placement.

          When the star is flipping through an album of pictures of the mom she never knew, the photo she stops and lingers on is one taken using “Portrait mode”. The movie’s scheduled release date was exactly five months before September 12th. That is beyond PR, that is Apple PR.

    • Kip Beatty

      Not sure I agree, but I’ll consider it. It’s a worthwhile thought.

  • lkalliance

    I don’t feel like reeling off examples, and I don’t have the chops to tell you why THIS is wrong and THAT could be better, I do have a sensation of the desirability of Apple products waning, slowly, over the years.

    I think I years ago passed out of the “lusting after technology” phase, that’s just aging. The last Apple product I lusted for was the iPhone 4S. But there is an element of things looking pleasing that makes buying them and (to an extent) using them more enjoyable.

    The last iPhone I found really pleasing in a way that made me want to buy it was the 5c. The 5/5S/SE are OK (I currently use an SE).

    The last desktop Mac I loved the look of was the iMac when it was squared off, before they tapered the edges (I currently have one of the tapered-edge ones).

    The last Mac laptop I really enjoyed was the Macbook Air.

    I’ve also found iOS and macOS to get less intuitive as it has involved. That may just be because it does so much more than it used to do, much of which I’m not really interested in. As the tasks we ask the tech to do get more complex, necessarily the interaction must become more complex, I guess. But I preferred when the iPhone did less and did it completely elegantly and intuitively. I get the same feeling about macOS, but much less so (because I am doing less and less on my Mac and more and more on my iPad, I think).

  • JimCracky

    Thoughts on Topolshy:

    1 Why can’t he hold a job? 2Why is everywhere he lands a bad fit for all parties? 3Why did he get fired from the site he created? 4 Who cares what he think? He doesn’t have the credentials to make any pronouncements.

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  • freediverx

    Topolsky is a hack. He sucked at The Verge, at Bloomberg, and now at whatever he’s currently working. A man with no business writing about tech.

    It’s fine to criticize Apple—and there’s plenty worthy of criticism. But writers like Topolsky have no clue about what they’re writing about. He either doesn’t get Apple and what has made them successful, or he is intentionally engaging in unwarranted attacks in a shameless grab for clicks. Either way, I have no respect for him.

    • Janak Parekh

      To be clear: there are many legitimate gripes to be made about Apple. A number of them may touch these immediate issues, but the issue here is that Josh just sums it all up to “Apple sucks” and then defends that. That’s hack reporting.

      The Apple Pencil’s charging is often cited as an example. The problem is, if you really think through the details it’s not easy. How do you design a stylus that is weighted and has the style of a real pencil, as opposed to the tiny crappy styli of Windows tablets (here’s looking at you, Surface Pen!)?

      You make it large and long, like a pencil that a drafter or illustrator might use. You add some weight. If you’re clever (and Apple is), you arrange its weight it in a way the Pencil doesn’t roll off the table. But then if you want to make a slot for charging or storage, it has to be huge. That’s not going to work. If you add a magnet to the side with the Smart Connector, that’ll get in the way of covers/cases, like the keyboard. And you don’t want to require an accessory to charge it on the go. So… your options are pretty limited here.

      I have an iPad Pro and really wish there was a good attachment mechanism. But the cases with loops suck, too, they make holding and using the iPad clumsy in other ways. So, I just put it in a pencil slot in my backpack. And when I need to plug it in, I do it for a minute, then I go on with my work.

      If your answer is “I personally don’t like Apple’s design tradeoffs,” that’s a much fairer rant, but it’s not going to get clicks or eyeballs.

  • 1) there is no need to charge the Pencil sticking out of the ipad. it comes with a lighting adapter to use any old cable. do you own one?

    2) the iphone 7 image is bogus because the dongle isn’t needed and does nothing in that image. you can plug legacy headphones directly into the 7 via the adapter alone.

    • tbone7

      Yes, but with the iPhone 7, there’s no way to plug wired headphones AND charge at the same time.

      • freediverx

        With the convenience of AirPods, there is now a far lesser need for wired headphones on an iPhone. The use case you described is real, but doesn’t affect most iPhone owners most of the time.

        • tbone7

          “Doesn’t affect most iPhone owners” is up for debate. Not all iPhone owners are ponying up $129 for wireless earbuds.

      • it doesn’t matter, that isn’t what the image in the picture is doing. there is an adapter for that should be required, but in over a year i’ve had no need to buy one and i’m certainly in the majority. if you’re an outlier use case get yourself whatever adapters you need.

        • tbone7

          The image in the picture (a link to this tweet below) is showing how if you want to use wired headphones, and still have access to the lightning port for charing or other wired devices, you need all of the adapters shown. Furthermore, saying that a user who simply wants to use wired headphones is in the minority, is up for debate. I know many people who still prefer the rock-solid connection and simplicity of wired headphones. And they don’t want to spend the $$ on AirPods.

          • Billy Razzle

            It comes with wired headphones that don’t require an adapter.

          • tbone7

            You’re missing the point. If you want to use said wired headphones AND charge your phone at the same time, you need that adapter. (a common need for people who take road trips)

    • Ben

      Exactly. Plugging the pencil directly into the iPad is intended for a quick charge. 15 seconds of charging for 30 minutes of usage. You probably wouldn’t even take your hand off the pencil in that time. As such I reckon it’s a design win.

  • Sigivald

    Over time, I expect that hardware/camera/AI advances will allow the notch to get much smaller and, perhaps, disappear altogether.

    There’s no strictly technological reason for a notch, is there?

    It’s purely aesthetic – “to make the screen fit the whole front, but have room for stuff”.

    That aesthetic is the compromise, between a weird/ugly notch, and a normal marquee bar holding the sensors and such.

  • tbone7

    The biggest thing I agree with in this piece is how much of a mistake the iOS 7 design away from Skeuomorphism was. Suddenly, we had a bunch of words that were actually buttons, but the average user had no clue until they tapped away on random words, wondering if they were buttons. I’m a pretty technical person, and even today, this is irritating. Finally, we have these extremely high resolution screens that are capable of displaying things like buttons and dials with lifelike detail…but no….let’s throw all of that in the trash.

    • pre 7 the glassy buttons on screen were bitmap images (“resources”). differently sized resources were needed for different resolutions or screen sizes. post 7 buttons are now vector and require nothing when being dynamically resized or scales. that’s why they made the shift.

      i agree the non-bordered blue text buttons were annoying, but they’ve frequently been replaced by outlined buttons. ex: in the iOS 11 when the alarm clock goes off, the “Stop” button on the lock screen is now an outlined button.

      • Yes, I do miss borders. Not everywhere, but there were some places they were quite nice. One drawback to them is they skew where you think you can hit. With them, I’ve noticed people tend to just aim for somewhere in the border. The finger isn’t that precise, and sometimes you miss. With just words or images, people tend to aim for the word and there’s enough padding before the (invisible) border that people always hit.

        You can see how badly Apple cheats to cover this sloppiness on old iOS 5 devices. Try hitting a button right under a navigation bar, for instance; it’s almost impossible in some cases.

    • I strongly disagree with this one. It’s just so much easier to read now, especially at low brightness levels or in the sun.

  • Caleb Hightower

    Joshua Topolsky, this fucking wannabe. Everybody’s a “design critic” these days. Let’s stack up Topolsky’s design against Ive’s and see who’s more brilliant.

    Then again, why even give this charlatan your precious time.

  • Jurassic

    People like Topolsky whose lives are shattered by having to look at, or even think about, the so-called “notch” on the iPhone X, really need professional help to survive their OCD, and should concern themselves with more serious and pressing social issues.

    Until Apple can “magically” find a way to put all of the cameras and projectors on the front of the iPhone X underneath the OLED display, and still have them function without being seen, these whiners will need to “suffer” in silence.

    Of course, no one is forcing them to buy the iPhone X, or even to look at it in TV commercials (that’s what the TV remote is for 😉). So it is quite possible for them to live a normal and healthy life like most other people… If they choose to do so.

  • Herding_sheep

    Topolsky has turned more and more into a pretentious d-bag. TheOutline is quite possibly one of the snobbiest sites I’ve ever read. The tone and atmosphere of the entire site is just filled with snobbery and pretentiousness.

    So this doesn’t surprise me. He has turned into the epitome of a snob. Thinking he understands design better than a design studio regarded as the worlds best (by the worlds best industrial designers), and knighted by the British empire.

  • “A critic is someone who enters the battlefield after the war is over and shoots the wounded.”

    ― Murray Kempton

  • Kelly Johnson

    I don’t know about the Apple is doomed part; but I agree with Topolsky on many points, notably that Apple 3.0 has lost its way. Most people new to Apple would probably disagree. This is the Apple they are most familiar with. But long time Apple users, those who truly loved everything Apple, hold it to the very highest standards. And, for the most part, Apple has given them that. Without its undying attention to detail down to the most infinitesimal aspect, Apple would never have held on to the many who stood their ground as the rest of the world denigrated us. Under Sculley and others, however, Apple devolved from this path. Only when Jobs returned did Apple 2.0 refuel the passion for everything Apple. This passion is ebbing again with Cook at the helm. For many, myself included, I see Apple today moving down a path of relative mediocrity. Not that it does not make world class products, but the drive for making the very best of the best of the best is lacking. Apple today is more reminiscent of Microsoft or Sony as neither company invokes passion for its products. Can Apple turn around? Sure it can. But the question is, will it? It won’t happen under Cook and gang simply because they are happy with what Apple is doing. But maybe the next round of leadership will bring back the passion. I hope so. I miss it very much.

    • Jurassic

      “Only when Jobs returned did Apple 2.0 refuel the passion for everything Apple. This passion is ebbing again with Cook at the helm.”

      I am also a long-time user of Apple products, going back more than 25 years… But I think that you have selective memory when it comes to Apple under Steve Jobs in the past .

      No, things were NOT as perfect as you imagine they were. Steve Jobs oversaw his share of poorly conceived or designed products.

      Do you remember the Power Mac G4 Cube? It looked pretty, but it was over-priced, under-powered, and the clear plexiglass shell had a tendency to crack on the corner. It was discontinued after only 1 year of production.

      Do you remember the hockey-puck mouse? It was hated by Apple users. Eventually Apple replaced it with a better designed mouse.

      And there were other less than perfect products and services that came out under Steve Jobs’ tenure.

      In fact, both the quality of Apple’s products and the success of the company have improved GREATLY under “Cook at the helm”. It’s easy to be unappreciative of all Cook and the company has accomplished in the past several years… Especially if you have a false impression of the “glory days” when Steve Jobs was around. 🤔

      • Kelly Johnson

        I never said Apple 2.0 did everything right under Jobs; and I’m sorry if this omission caused you to think I was an Apple fanboi. Quite the contrary, I’ve always been hard on Apple and expected much from it. There are many instances I could cite where Apple could have done better during his tenure.

        Regarding the Cube, of course I recall it; and, I did not like it. Why? Because I don’t care for any computer that cannot be readily expanded, upgraded, and repaired. Apple has taken its products so far down the path of planned obsolesence that it no longer makes a Mac that interests me at all. Hopefully the modular Mac Pro will restore my faith, and macOS development will return to the strong time-tested UI concepts that made me and many others passionate for the Mac platform. I’ve stuck by Apple since its inception and have no plans on giving up on them, but I expect much more from Apple than what we get today.

        My main concern is for the Mac platform. My dislike for iOS and the mobile experience is so strong that I give the iOS platform little consideration. Apple has never met my expectations for that platform, much less made me passionate for it. But I’m okay with that. I’ll be quite happy driving a truck the rest of my life; and quite happy for those who prefer to ride a bicycle. Just don’t take my truck away.

        Tim Cook is a brilliant logistician, and performs better as CEO in some respects than Jobs. Without question, he has taken Apple to new heights. But so did Sculley; and we know how that turned out. And Jony Ive, as much as I respect his attention to detail, his balance of form and function was stronger under Jobs than with Cook. Apple 3.0 is an awesome corporate tour de force. But it has lost a bit of soul, perhaps the bit of Wozniak that makes computing and tinkering fun; and the bit of Jobs that demands unparalleled elegance.

        • please provide some actual evidence. and no, “Sculley!” is not evidence of anything.

          Jobs hated tinkering and Woz lost that battle decades ago. Literally decades ago.

    • rubbish opinion. apple does indeed make world class products, and IMO the best in almost every product category. my apple gear today are the best version of these devices and no way would i want the older versions. get real.

  • NB

    I think he has some points I agree with. Some stuff I’ve seen in angry comment threads such as this one that are now being rebelled against with shock and horror that Professional Troll and Fake News Hack Joshua Topolsky would dare say. You can’t let criticism hurt you that much, guys. It isn’t 1999 anymore.

    • it’s doesnt hurt me to identify bullshit whenever i see it. how strange that you feel this way.

  • cbarrick

    The article is 100% correct. Hyperbole aside, Apple design is a far cry from what it used to be.

  • Steve Chavez

    I think this dude just lost his flashlight or something…

  • Costa k

    You know, you don’t have to plug the Pencil into the lightning port. You can use the adapter that it came with to charge it from a lighting cable.

    And why does it have to have a home? Wacom pencils don’t have a home. Surface pens don’t have a home. Heck, back in the day my biro didn’t have a home. It just sat there on my desk. Only Galaxy Note pens have a home. And that’s because they’re cheap, skinny, plastic slivers that are designed for quick notes and not digital design.

    Some people write before they think.

  • DaveChapin77

    He was definitely right about the incredibly stupid LI-ion powered mouse. A device you literally CANNOT USE IF YOU ARE CHARGING IT. Huge fail. All they had to do was have the charging cable join the mouse at the top parallel to the table surface, and it would have been just like a wire mouse during charing. I just am speechless by how bad that mouse design is.

  • I’d read it, but Topolsky has proven to me over the years he’s not worth reading.

  • fk Bobby Turkalino

    In the increasingly distant past, I always appreciated it when Apple changed things a bit. This was so because I trusted that if I gave a new gesture on my phone, a new tweak to the Finder, or maybe a change to the menu in an Apple app, a chance I would very likely come to like it.

    I even carry my iPhone 6 barenekkid because I like the slim feel and the aluminum has just the right amount of “tooth” for a secure feel. But with glass, well, we now know that Apple now EXPECTS that we will use cases or pay through the nose for glass replacement. Smooth glass is a lousy idea for a handheld device.

    Under Steve Jobs, Apple was a company that opened worlds for us. Maybe it’s his death or just that the worlds are now open to everyone. I don’t know. But in my mind, Apple is now just another company that makes some nice products and some that are duds. It’s a company that seems to be headed down the same path as Sony.