The worst Apple designs by Jony Ive, according to the AppleInsider staff

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 1
While he's often lauded, not everything Apple has cranked out under Jony Ive's design lead has been spectacular. We've been on the Apple beat nearly as long as Ive has, and we have some thoughts on the flops from Ive's design studio.

Jony Ive

Malcolm Owen -- Magic Mouse 2

For the most part, the Magic Mouse 2 is a well-designed peripheral. Following on from the original, it retained the same physical appearance while also losing some weight and adding a rechargeable battery, changes that are on the face of it quite useful to end users.

A Magic Mouse 2 being recharged
A Magic Mouse 2 being recharged


My beef with the Magic Mouse 2 is the lapse of judgement in its design to place the charging point for it on the bottom edge. Rather than sully the outside of the mouse, Apple hid it at the very bottom of the device, where users won't see it unless they need to recharge the thing.

Granted, the idea of hiding it there isn't entirely that bad, but it does mean that the mouse isn't able to be used at times while it's being recharged, as there's a cable and connector in the way. It may only be for less than a minute to get a few hours worth of charge, but it still leaves the user sitting there, twiddling their thumbs waiting for the thing to get enough power to do the thing they actually want to do.

I'd also argue that there isn't anything wrong with placing the charging point at the front point of the Magic Mouse. Some other wireless mouse producers do so, effectively turning it into a "wired" mouse while charging, and it isn't unsightly.

Add in that the front of the mouse isn't usually on view to the person wielding it through normal use, and it makes the base-based port seem even more daft.

William Gallagher -- The original iMac

It's heresy to say it when the product is often beloved, and when it unquestionably saved Apple. Yet back in 1998 when it was new and on through today when it's an antique, I've really disliked the design. It looks bulbous and ugly to me, and I understand that this is because there's a whacking great CRT monitor in there -- but that doesn't change my mind.

The original 1998 Mac
The original 1998 Mac


And nor did any of the range of colors it came in.

I liked that the iMac came in many colors, and I have since become an absolute fan of the iMac range. Just not that original version.

Mike Wuerthele -- The "hockey puck" mouse

Apple has a long and storied history with pointing devices. The company may have ushered in the dawn of the mouse with the Lisa, and then for everybody else with the Mac, but there have been some missteps along the way.

The AppleDesign mouse that shipped after Apple's original ADB mouse wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. Its successor, the "hockey puck" mouse that shipped with the iMac, was fully terrible.

Original blue and white hockey puck mouse, without mouse button indent
Original blue and white hockey puck mouse, without mouse button indent


With it being circular, there was no clear "up" without looking at the protruding cable. It was a wreck ergonomically, too, so it was a good thing that there were USB mice from third parties when it shipped.

A bit later, Apple put a divot on the mouse button for a better orientation, similarly to how it has put a raised circle around the Menu button on Apple TV remote. But that didn't help that much.

It was replaced by Apple's optical mouse, which was better, but again, still not great.

Andrew O'Hara -- Smart Keyboard Folio

I was a pretty big fan of the original iPad Pro Smart Keyboard. I liked typing on it, liked being able to easily remove it, and liked using it to prop up my iPad when watching TV or movies. There was a fraction of users though who had issues with the presumed complexity of folding the cover around.

Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio
Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio


With the second-generation Smart Keyboard Folio, Apple seems to have tried to make up for this and overcorrected. The Smart Keyboard Folio forces back protection onto users instead of making it only an option, as with the first generation. It added cost and bulk to the otherwise extremely slim third-generation Pro. With the case attached, the 2018 Pro is actually thicker than its predecessor.

It also can't be used to prop up a Pro without the keyboard sticking out, taking up a huge footprint on your desk. When not using the keyboard and folding it around the back, there's an awkward experience when users are holding onto the keys -- it feels squishy and just odd.

Here's hoping that the Ive-less design team comes up with some improvements for the fourth generation of Apple's pro tablets.

Amber -- The third generation iPod shuffle

For the most part, the iPod shuffle wasn't really on my radar. In fact I didn't routinely own iPods or really any Apple products until the introduction of the sixth-generation iPod nano. I was aware of the Shuffle however. After all, nearly half of everyone I knew owned a second-gen model at some point.

Who wouldn't want a tiny, wearable MP3 player? It was certainly a lot more gym-friendly than most.

Third generation iPod Shuffle. It looks good from this side, but the other side is just blank metal.
Third generation iPod Shuffle. It looks good from this side, but the other side is just blank metal.


As before, the third generation was a thumb drive-sized stick that you plugged headphones into. It had one control on the device itself that dictated whether you listened to your music in order or shuffled -- leaving additional control to the earbuds' in-line remote.

The product was a confusing choice for Apple to make. From a design standpoint, it was a big step backward. The second generation was a small, squat rectangle with a clickwheel that clipped onto your pocket, and allowed you to easily change songs and volume without much thought.

Functionally, the third-gen Shuffle was a total miss. If a user had a favorite pair of existing headphones that didn't feature that inline, three-button remote, they wouldn't be able to control their music. If they did, they'd still have to learn a series of non-intuitive clicking patterns just to navigate a series of invisible menus.

The third-gen was clearly not the hit that Apple had been expecting, because the fourth-gen Shuffle was released a little over a year later and was a slightly stumpier version of the second-gen. Not only was the clickwheel back, it also included an expanded color range, making it the most iconic in the product line.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 90
    Yeah, that Mighty Mouse 2 is a real head scratcher.  We couldn’t just plug it in at the front tip to charge it, so we could use it like a wired mouse while it’s charging.  

    What about the non-modular Mac Pro?  
  • Reply 2 of 90
    henrybayhenrybay Posts: 106member
    Um.....I think you forgot the Butterfly Keyboard
    trashman69irelandanonconformistcgWerkswilliamlondonanantksundaramrazorpitbigpics
  • Reply 3 of 90
    Roger_FingasRoger_Fingas Posts: 148member, editor
    Yeah, that Mighty Mouse 2 is a real head scratcher.  We couldn’t just plug it in at the front tip to charge it, so we could use it like a wired mouse while it’s charging.  

    What about the non-modular Mac Pro?  
    There's one to mention. I liked it aesthetically, practicality was another matter.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 90
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 1,919member
    OK, hockey puck mouse. Here is my post in another thread.
    https://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/comment/3171746/#Comment_3171746

    To summarize:
    • It is circular because mice move in circular paths on the table.
    • Reacquiring orientation is actually easier than losing it.
    • Your wrist rests on the table and you drive the mouse with your fingers, not the palm of your hand.
    I used it with pleasure for ten years and during that period I have never seen an iMac used with another mouse while I provided tech services to several companies. Meaning, it was easier to use than any other mouse. Previously I’d used Mac mice since the original Macintosh. Now I am using a Miniso wireless/BT mouse to play games occasionally on MBP.

    What I don’t understand with the Magic Mouse 2 is why it is rechargeable? This is a big guy that can accomodate well disposable batteries. Batteries off you’re stuck. OK but you forgot the cable and you’re stuck again. Why would I carry a charging cable to use a mouse? I wouldn’t put the blame on Ive for this, since he made the old Apple TV 3 remote with an ordinary battery. That recharging “techno-burlesque” on a simple mouse might be the bright idea of someone else.
    edited June 30 pscooter63randominternetperson
  • Reply 5 of 90
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 766member
    I'd say that Apple, and Ive just had a problem with mice. Couldn't design a good one if their life depended on it. Other things, fine, trackpads, fine, keyboards fine. But for some reason mice have just eluded them. From the first one with one button when everyone else had two, and then two with a wheel. Then through the puck mouse, which was an ergonomic disaster, and most disappointing for me, still only had one button. I really thought the two coloured sections on the sides were buttons, until I got one. Then on to the Mighty Mouse which is just mediocre, and as you mentioned a ham sandwich could have told you that putting the plug on the bottom was a bad idea. Not only have I replaced the one that came with my iMac with a wired mouse from MacAlly, I just noticed my wife quietly replaced hers with a Microsoft mouse she got somewhere. Here's to hoping that Apple stops getting arty with their mice and designs one that just does what we need.
    1STnTENDERBITSpscooter63bonobobirelandmiricbigpics
  • Reply 6 of 90
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,875member
    Original iMac was a fantastic and beautiful design. Hockey puck mouse not so much. 

    Bad Jon designs:
    1- The Magic Mouse charging port
    2- Touch Bar 
    3- Trashcan MacPro
    4- Lack of ports on MacBook
    5- Butterfly keyboard 
    6- Not making a large screen iPhone till 2014!!
    trashman69edac2bigpics
  • Reply 7 of 90
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,754member
    Hockey Puck has my vote
    lolliver
  • Reply 8 of 90
    William Gallagher on the original iMac. Talk about provoking a discussion. :D
    macpluspluspscooter63crapday
  • Reply 9 of 90
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,516member
    Original iMac was great! Compact, all USB, and a handle built-in. The hockey puck mouse absolutely sucked though.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 90
    My beef with the Magic Mouse 2 is the lapse of judgement in its design to place the charging point for it on the bottom edge. Rather than sully the outside of the mouse, Apple hid it at the very bottom of the device, where users won't see it unless they need to recharge the thing. 

    The lightning cable was not designed for movement. If they put the charging port on the outside of the mouse, lightning cable will fray. Magic Mouse 2 is still better than the Magic Mouse 1 in terms of time saved from dealing with battery.

    edited June 30 lollivertmaystompyrazorpitdjames4242roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 90

    Yeah, that Mighty Mouse 2 is a real head scratcher.  We couldn’t just plug it in at the front tip to charge it, so we could use it like a wired mouse while it’s charging.  

    What about the non-modular Mac Pro?  
    Lightning wasn't designed for movement. If you put in the front, people would use it while plugged in and the lightning cable would fray. They've thought this through.
    edited June 30 lolliverAppleZulurandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 90


    What I don’t understand with the Mighty Mouse is why it is rechargeable? This is a big guy that can accomodate well disposable batteries. Batteries off you’re stuck. OK but you forgot the cable and you’re stuck again. Why would I carry a charging cable to use a mouse? I wouldn’t put the blame on Ive for this, since he made the old Apple TV 3 remote with an ordinary battery. That recharging “techno-burlesque” on a simple mouse might be the bright idea of someone else.
    Lightning cables are more ubiquitous than double AA batteries. These cables are likely at your desk already vs AA batteries in a different room. If you're traveling with the mouse, you already have the lightning cable with you. AA batteries require 2 minutes every month to swap. Rechargable magic mouse requires only 10 seconds every month dealing with plugging it in before you sleep. If you happen to forget to charge the mouse, it'll only require 2 minutes of plug in "free time" (meaning you can go to the bathroom/grab coffee) vs 2 minutes of "swap time" of AA batteries.

    Essentially you save 12-24 minutes every year using Magic Mouse 2 over the Magic Mouse 1, as well as pack less on travel and save money from buying AA batteries.
    edited June 30 elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 90
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 1,919member


    What I don’t understand with the Mighty Mouse is why it is rechargeable? This is a big guy that can accomodate well disposable batteries. Batteries off you’re stuck. OK but you forgot the cable and you’re stuck again. Why would I carry a charging cable to use a mouse? I wouldn’t put the blame on Ive for this, since he made the old Apple TV 3 remote with an ordinary battery. That recharging “techno-burlesque” on a simple mouse might be the bright idea of someone else.
    Lightning cables are more ubiquitous than double AA batteries. It's likely at your desk vs AA batteries in a different room. If you're traveling with the mouse, you already have the lightning cable with you. AA batteries require 2 minutes every month to swap. Rechargable magic mouse requires only 10 seconds every month dealing with plugging it in before you sleep. If you happen to forget to charge the mouse, it'll only require 2 minutes of plug in "free time" (meaning you can go to the bathroom/grab coffee) vs 2 minutes of "swap time" of AA batteries.

    Essentially you save 12-24 minutes every year using Magic Mouse 2 over the Magic Mouse 1, as well as pack less on travel and save money from buying AA batteries.
    I don’t have much experience and knowledge with Apple mice since I’ve always been a iBook and MBP user after the original iMac. I and many people I know or don’t know never carry a Lightning cable daily. One cannot expect from a Mac user to be such “conformist” or disciplined as to carry a charging cable for the mouse. Your statistics are funny and you may be right but I will stick with the disposable batteries.
    edited June 30
  • Reply 14 of 90
    I and many people I know or don’t know never carry a Lightning cable daily.
    I didn't say daily, but it's much more likely the general population is carrying lightning cables compared to batteries in their bags. The idea is that you're much more likely to encounter a lightning cable easier and faster than AA batteries
    edited June 30 elijahgrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 90
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 280member
    Any generation Apple TV remote. No Apple product brings as much hate at home on a regular basis as the Apple remote.
    The worst of form over function.
    edited June 30 irelanddempsonYvLymacxpressanantksundaramrazorpit
  • Reply 16 of 90
    danR2222danR2222 Posts: 7unconfirmed, member
    Face it, the original, 128K Mac was ugly. The Lisa was (necessarily) bulky, but what came after... Jobs wanted a one-piece unit--the toaster paradigm.

    A white, minimalist, box + petite monitor would have been better. Later models looked a bit better, without the someone-has-been-smoking-in-this-room-for-20 years tone.
    edited June 30
  • Reply 17 of 90
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 1,919member

    Andrew O'Hara -- Smart Keyboard Folio

    I was a pretty big fan of the original iPad Pro Smart Keyboard. I liked typing on it, liked being able to easily remove it, and liked using it to prop up my iPad when watching TV or movies. There was a fraction of users though who had issues with the presumed complexity of folding the cover around.

    Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio

    With the second-generation Smart Keyboard Folio, Apple seems to have tried to make up for this and overcorrected. The Smart Keyboard Folio forces back protection onto users instead of making it only an option, as with the first generation. It added cost and bulk to the otherwise extremely slim third-generation Pro. With the case attached, the 2018 Pro is actually thicker than its predecessor.

    It also can't be used to prop up a Pro without the keyboard sticking out, taking up a huge footprint on your desk. When not using the keyboard and folding it around the back, there's an awkward experience when users are holding onto the keys -- it feels squishy and just odd.

    Here's hoping that the Ive-less design team comes up with some improvements for the fourth generation of Apple's pro tablets.
    That Smart Keyboard Folio idea is totally wrong. But it is equally wrong to put the blame on Ive for that. That requirement must have come from the Marketing, that still presents the iPad like a Surface clone on Apple product pages, attaching that Folio to every iPad image. Officially it is an “accessory”, but apparently the Marketing doesn’t think so and presents it as an obligatory part of the iPad like in a desktop or laptop computer. If I have to buy something that looks like a laptop and requires a desk to be used then I would buy a laptop !..
    edited June 30 bb-15
  • Reply 18 of 90
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 551member
    I’ve never understood the angst about the Magic Mouse 2 charging port. The critique above explains clearly why the port doesn’t need to be on the edge or top of the mouse. Less than a minute’s charge yields hours of use. 

    As as noted in another post above, a charging cable isn’t structurally designed to handle the motions and bending involved with being a mouse cord.  Yet, you can rest assured that lots of people would just leave it plugged in all the time, damaging the cable and the charging port on the mouse as well. Then there would be lots of complaints and inevitable class-action lawsuits over the poorly designed charging cables and charging ports. And for what? Because users can’t wait a minute or two to charge up the mouse for a day’s use. 

    Or or they could put the charging port on the bottom of the mouse, so the user can’t misuse the charging cable, torquing, twisting and damaging it and the mouse. 

    No, Ive and Apple knew exactly what they were doing here, and they made the right choice. 
    edited June 30 movingincirclesdanR2222stompytrydrandominternetpersonrazorpitdjames4242roundaboutnowivauawatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 90
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    Lightning cable: looks over function. Not robust and cost too much, considering not robust. The only way to get a few years out of one is to treat it like a piece of scientific lab equipment, proving their unfit-for-purpose fragility and sub-par design.

    iMac port design: a pain the ass anytime you want to plug something in. Like a puzzle game. Perhaps worse than USB-A design, itself, and that’s saying something.

    Might Mouse: scroll ball designed by an idiot—Ive or one of his team. Apple’s consistent inability to design a decent mouse always puzzled me. But then, when you examine some of the designs on this list, it quickly becomes apparent Apple are anything but the perfect designers.

    EarPods: where do you grip to jack and un-jack them; same applies to UK iPhone plugs. As ergonomic as a bar of soap.
    edited June 30 elijahg
  • Reply 20 of 90
    danR2222danR2222 Posts: 7unconfirmed, member
    AppleZulu said:
    I’ve never understood the angst about the Magic Mouse 2 charging port. The critique above explains clearly why the port doesn’t need to be on the edge or top of the mouse. Less than a minute’s charge yields hours of use. 

    As as noted in another post above, a charging cable isn’t structurally designed to handle the motions and bending involved with being a mouse cord. 
    No, Ive and Apple knew exactly what they were doing here, and they made the right choice. 
    Yes, I can imagine the back and forth at Apple, and it's possible Ive himself objected (for about 30 seconds) until the real-world problems were detailed. So somebody said: let's make this sucker as unusable , plugged in, as humanly possible.
    edited June 30 watto_cobraAlex1N
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