UI Horror: iOS X

Note: this is based on a (fairly late) preview of iOS X; the behavior outlined has changed slightly in one of the earlier betas and might change again before final release.  Hopefully this will change again before the final release, because the current behavior is literally worse than Stalin.

Apple has been struggling with widgets for ages.  As in Android has had them, and “everybody” (vis-a-vis a handful loud bloggers) has been clamoring on about how Apple needs widgets.

With the new iOS X, iOS finally gets widgets, and it’s just the UI horror you would expect.

iOS used to have the notification center, which would show notifications and notification center widgets.  This worked decently well.  You had a tab and could switch between today widgets and notifications:



Image credit: I found them on the internet.

Of course, this had to change in iOS X; we still have a notification view and a widget area (the widget area has a new name and the widgets look slightly different, but it’s obviously the same):



Now, instead of having tabs to select the page, we have to swipe left or right to select the screen.  Swiping is useful as a metaphor when you’re doing demos and nowhere in the real world.  It’s cumbersome and takes time.

But that’s not the worst.  Now, the page always shows me the notification area, so viewing my widgets, which was previously a matter of swiping down from the top, involves swiping from the top and then swiping left?  left maybe?  the side you start reading at.  Every fricking time!  Previously, I could just select the today tab and it would remember it.

But that’s not all.  iOS also had that shortcut thingy at the bottom, where you could switch cell coverage off and back on whenever the phone fucked up the connection, and skip over the fucking U2 album iTunes for whatever retarded reason manages to find whenever I click shuffle.  Super practical.


A lot of angry nerds online have been complaining about how their favorite feature wasn’t represented in the panel.  Back in the days of yore, when Steve Jobs hadn’t joined the ranks of zombie Jesus, Apple knew how to say “fuck you, but no.”  Now, instead, Apple seems to have listened.  And it’s worse than the hockey puck mouse.  Now, the shortcut panel is split into these three inconvenient monstrosities:




Again in swipetastic inconvenience: a page with essentially the shortcuts from before, then one which has a huge play/pause button and a bunch of shit nobdy wants ever, and finally a panel for control of Apples HomeKit, which still is in a sad, sad state of non-workiness.  So, now if I want to control my home, I have to swipe non-left twice everytime?  Ha!  no, fuck you!  That would be annoying but at least consistently so.  No, the bottom short-cut thing remembers which panel I was displaying last time and shows that when I swipe up.

We have two basically identical panels that operate basically identical, except one has memory of where I left off and the other doesn’t.  That means that for one (the widgets/notification thing) I can rely on muscle memory for picking whichever page I want, while for the other one, I have to remember where I was before and calculate where to swipe to go where I want.  Which means I swipe up, swipe left, then right, then left again until I take a look at what is happening as if I were some normal human being trying to insert a fricking USB plug.  Don’t let the device have memory of things I don’t!  Or at the very least make the two essentially user-interface thingums behave the same.

Not only do the two panels operate differently, they do so in the exact opposite order of what I would want them to if they have to be different.  I never use the notifications thing.  Ever.  Except to shut down notifications.  It’s as useful to me as an Xtina CD or an 8″ floppy drive with a RS-232 connector. When I swipe down, I always wants my widgets.  No exception; I swipe down then in the direction that brings me my widgets.  If my phone would only remember the last page I was viewing, I would save half my interaction with the phone, and spend my new-found doubled free time doing more productive things like saving the world.  iOS X, you’re literally the direct cause of AIDSificeret Zika!

I often use both the first shortcut screen and the play-button screen.  I never use the HomeKit screen because HomeKit rarely works, and I find it more convenient gambling on Siri not screwing up or using the home screen widgets provided directly by Philips for my lights.  Heck, there’s even times I use the light switches like a poor person instead of using that third screen nobody asked for.  For this screen, I always need to switch to another screen because there’s a roughly 97% chance that whatever I did last is not what I want to do this time.  If the thing would only always show either the play-button thing (because it’s in the middle, leaving both the useful one and the HomeKit ones each one swipe away) or the useful one (because it’s not one of barely useful one and the useless one), I could rely on muscle memory of navigate to whatever I wanted.

Of course, the real solution is to get rid of the crud.  Why are the two panels different?  There’s no difference between them.  Just make them behave the same and let me put what I want at the top and what I want at the bottom.  Don’t add multiple screens.  Hitler wanted multiple screens, and see where that left Poland!  If notifications are so important, make them a widget.  Mind blown like the twin towers, I just removed one screen and made the phone infinitely more useful; now it’s just one swipe down and I can put the notification panel there if I want or remove it entirely.  Make the shortcut thing at the bottom another widget area and turn all those things into widgets.  Now I can again add/remove what I want, and let me tell you a secret: I can easily boil down all the three pages to less than one page.

Everybody touted multiple home screens as a huge feature back in the 80s when it was introduced.  Yet, I somehow don’t use it.  See, I’m not a hoarder, so I get rid of (most) applications I don’t use and boil everything down to just one page of apps (plus one page with the Britney game so I can admire by background picture).  The third dot is another inconvenient way of getting to the widget area that I never use because it only works when I’m on the exact right screen without any folder open.  Which happens roughly never.



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