Fortune

APPLE

HAS APPLE LOST ITS DESIGN MOJO? A GENERATION OF PEERLESS PRODUCTS MADE IT THE WORLD’S MOST VALUABLE COMPANY. NOW SOME IN THE I-UNIVERSE ARE QUESTIONING IF THE MAGIC—IN THE POST–STEVE JOBS ERA—IS STILL THERE. DON’T BELIEVE THE NAYSAYERS.
The new iMac Pro, which retails for $4,999.

THE TOUCH ID on Victoria’s iPhone 6 doesn’t work well in the winter cold. John is tired of kneeling or sitting on airport floors to plug in his 6s, whose battery seems incapable of lasting through the day. A few months ago, Henry noticed that when he’d type an “I” into his iPhone, “A?” would sometimes show up on his screen. Nancy, who’s older, hates that Apple never provides instructions after upgrading her iPad to “new formatting.” Adam, who’s younger, has ditched Apple for Google’s Pixel 2 XL, because he prefers the design and uses Google apps. Tony, who thinks iTunes has gone from being a well-organized music library to a disorganized marketing vehicle for Apple Music, has subscribed to Spotify and Pandora.

The five people in my home use two dozen cables to power and connect 18 Apple devices. Six are frayed and wrapped in duct tape—their thin, rubberized, and attractive-till-it-breaks covering doesn’t seem designed for the heavy use these cables obviously get. Worse yet, hunting one down takes ages, because the USB, Lightning, Thunderbolt, and USB-C cables are incompatible in a variety of ways, and the little adapters I purchased after each “upgrade” have been lost long ago, probably behind some couch cushion that’s also hiding Anya’s too-tiny iPod Shuffle and the earbuds that came with the iPhone 6 that Tal shattered.

If your friends and family are anything like my friends and family, you’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about Apple design recently. In fact, enumerating the ways Apple design fails consumers seems to have become an international pastime. Google “Apple design sucks,” and you’ll find a never-ending litany of the seemingly infinite ways that this ostensible paragon of design excellence misses the mark: The Watch isn’t out-of-the-box intuitive; the latest keyboards are annoying and fragile; Apple Pencils are easy to lose; the iPhone has been flawed ever since Apple introduced that camera lens that juts out on the back, and things have gotten worse with the “notch” on the screen of the iPhone X. Belittling headlines abound: “The Myth of Apple’s Great Design” (The Atlantic), “What Happened to Apple’s Faultless Design?” (The Verge), and “Apple Is Really Bad at Design” (The Outline), a recent screed that generated a lot of online chatter.

Highly respected developers and designers have weighed in with damning criticism. Tumblr cofounder Marco Arment admires most Apple design, but says, “Apple designs in the post-Steve era have been a little off-balance. The balance seems too much on the aesthetic, and too little on the functional.” Don Norman, a former member of the Apple design team (1993–1996) who now heads the Design Lab at the University

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