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Perfectly Cropped (tyler.io)
1232 points by keehun 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 553 comments



"But I see them impact my aging parents all the time."

I've realized lately that I'm actually entering this zone. For the last 20 years I've been talking about how stuff like this is a nightmare for the "aging" community.

20 years is a long time, and now I'm falling into it.

The big one for me in this new version of iOS was that:

1) I couldn't figure out how to move my cursor around. It used to be perfect. I held my finger down, it let me move the cursor around in a word. Now you have to swipe the cursor to "grab" it and move it around under your finger. It feels like change for the sake of change when it worked perfectly before.

2) And I can't do a "select all" anymore. I don't even know where that option is and I used it all the time. Something tells me I have to swipe somewhere now.

We all become the "aging" population no matter how much we think we know tech, design, etc.

I think my biggest problem with all of this is that things worked. I liked that things worked, and I liked that I knew how to use things. I cannot figure out why things have to change. Or at least, put an option in settings to change back/forth from previous functionality. When I wake up one morning with nothing to worry about except work, and find out I now have to relearn how to use the same phone that has been in my pocket for 2 years.... this is irritating.


To summarize this thread (HN is still the best place to get IOS tips and tricks):

Three ways to move the cursor, from most reliable to least:

1. Hold down space bar and you'll enter a mode where moving your finger moves the cursor.

2. Drag it from its current location to a new location. This gets finicky, especially if you move your finger out of the text area; the cursor will move to the end of the text, but the highlighted bar that represents where you want to place the cursor will move around on the last line of the text. If there are non-text elements (images, etc.) in the block, then this will be unpredictable in where the cursor ends up. Also your finger blocks the text and there's no more magnifying glass.

3. Single tap in the text to place the cursor -- but if you tap on a misspelled word, it will go into "suggest replacements" mode. Double tap selects a word, and triple tap selects a paragraph.

To select all, you have to have a free cursor (nothing selected) and tap on the cursor itself. To avoid accidentally double-tapping (and thus selecting a word instead of bringing up the context menu) you have to make sure that you wait a beat before tapping again.

To paste (most to least reliable):

1. Do a three finger unpinch gesture, and it will paste at the cursor.

2. Enter the select all menu above and tap on the cursor (same caveats) and one of the options will be paste. But very often the second tap will either activate a double-tap (and thus select a word) or move the cursor a little bit, making a precise paste difficult.


Was this announced anywhere in any fashion? Or did they just change things and assume it was all "discoverable"? (Triple WTF's at the "three finger un-pinch".)


It was in the WWDC keynote speech. The rest of the world else can "discover" it the next time a bug crawls on their screen.


Herein lies the problem: it doesn't matter how much 'better' or 'smoother' or 'consistent' the change is - or is not, in this case. It's a gross oversight to never inform end users of the change in any way.

How many iPhone users attentively watch WWDC or read each update's (often incomplete) release notes? 1%? 3%? 5% tops? Why roll out a feature when 95% of your users will need to discover it through trial and error? A relatively juvenile UX mistake for such a mature company, but seems to be their MO these days...


I'm guessing a large proportion of the feedback to the design and development teams comes from the people who obsess over everything Apple. It would explain why the engineers never thought to inform the larger population -- everyone giving feedback already knew it was there.


> How many iPhone users attentively watch WWDC or read each update's (often incomplete) release notes? 1%? 3%? 5% tops? Why roll out a feature when 95% of your users will need to discover it through trial and error?

I totally agree, but just want to point out that it may be 5% of developers who follow these. Of the general use base in total? I'd assume it's rather about 1/100 of one percent, or one in ten thousand people.


Dang! One in ten thousand?! That's crazy, thanks for the perspective. They should be easy to spot though - just look for the one dude zipping around using iOS 13.3's new hoverboard function ;)


It's not like I have any numbers, but we have to remember that everyone uses a smartphone these days and a large portion wouldn't be able to even say if they're using iOS or Android.


OTOH, we also have the problem where many a new feature launches a parade in its own honor, with notifcations and badges and and modal popups when the user is trying to do something else. Google/Android is much worse about this than iOS, though.


Yes indeed, if only they would "inform end users of the change".

Unfortunately that would require that end users a) read such information (given the truism that "users don't read"), I would ouputr this at a vanishingly small likelihood, and b) summoned such information to mind when using their device.

The only people who would read this sort of information are techies it closer techies. It's certainly not my aged mother.

The real solution is to stick with some time proven UI techniques. As the author says, like scroll bars.

Instead, we have form over functionality writ large.


While we're on the topic, those screen-masking "tutorials" you randomly get when apps push out an updated UI are annoying. I always skip past them. When I open an app, it's for a reason, and I want to start using it.


Then they try to cram the entire UI into that “tutorial”; as if you’re going to hold that all in your head after reading it once while trying to do something else. Then there’s no clear way to get back to it (if it’s even possible). And often if you accidentally click through one part you can’t even go back to that part.

Video games do this a lot, too. I’d play more games but it’s always a one-hour commitment to get started between opening videos and tutorials.


Some games manage to teach you most of what you need without an overt tutorial. See eg Hollow Knight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWiDS8SUvds&t=55s or the classic first level of Super Mario Bros.


When they work new skill discovery into the natural evolution of gameplay it's genius.


In Hollow Knight, letting the player figure out how to 'pogo jump' is an interesting example. They don't hold your hand, but you need to learn eventually to progress.


And the one that kicks in after an iOS update? That installed overnight on your phone? That appears first thing in the morning, right when you're actually trying to check your mail, calendar, catch up on overnight notifications, in between getting ready for work and kicking kids out of the house... that tutorial is getting dismissed and will never be revisited.


Yeah, an overview of how things are laid out is great to have but let me go there after I've already looked around a bit, and don't make it an obstacle.


I'm one of the ones who watched the keynote, knew about the feature - and I still couldn't do it. Specifically the three finger "unpinch." However, this thread prompted me to retry, during which I realized it was a lot easier if I used two hands. We'll see if I can manage to use it regularly.


It's also in the Tips app, which prompts via notifications to learn about new features in iOS after an upgrade. You can ignore it, or you can let it walk you through the changes to your device.


yeah, but who has time? Tips will spend 5 mins walking you through how to change the preferred colour scheme for the Weather app, when what I want to do right now is answer the phone.

Then, 2 months later, I want to change the colour scheme in the Weather app. Can I remember how? Or even remember where I saw to do that? Or even find the right tip? Obviously not...


The grandparent asked if this was supposed to be discoverable and the answer is no, Apple does not expect you to discover it. If you want to learn about it, it’s in the Tips app (that they prompt you to use). Not wanting to use the Tips app seems like a personal issue.


How about they just don’t mess with functionality that has been working that way since literally the first version of iOS?


If it is a personal issue, it's because it's a bad solution to the problem. It doesn't provide the information I need when I need it, and provides irrelevant information most of the time.

I'm the customer. If your customer has a personal issue with your product, that's your problem, not theirs.

I'm not holding the phone wrong!


Wow, yeah. I've been an iOS user since version 3, and consider myself a power user. But the parent comment explains a lot why I couldn't select words like before. WTF is Apple doing these days?!


The tips app is one attempt at feature discovery like this.

The problem is that modern UI's can do so much that some has to be hidden so the common use cases can be easier, but users never go into the tips app or online help books to find out what was hidden. Pushing notifications spams users who don't want to look there, so we instead have our current situation /shrug ️

Source: used to work on the iOS tips app and help.apple.com/$productname help books at apple.


>The problem is that modern UI's can do so much that some has to be hidden so the common use cases can be easier

Bollocks. The "modern UI" can't do anything that much more that Windows 95 wasn't doing already. Too bad the touchscreen became standard long after anyone cared about good UX, and so the UI paradigms are still struggling with this new kind of hardware.

There is no reason ever to hide the scrollbar, which is not only a control, but also an indicator.

The UI designers don't hide it for the sake of good UX, it's for the sake of being "brave" - leading to articles like this.


I was just thinking about this the other day. OS X, in its earlier days, as a marvel of usability. Every last thing was seemingly crafted with utmost attention to ergonomics (e.g. the omnipresent menu bar is on the edge of the screen so it's easier to hit with the cursor), consistency, and intuitive discoverability. Again, the menu bar is a good example of this: it's always there, actions are laid out in a way that you can browse them to look for functions, and each item has the associated keyboard shortcut shown. The old HIG document was pretty well thought out.

iOS, on the other hand, is a byzantine mess of nondiscoverable gestures, meaningless hieroglyphic buttons that you have to blindly press to see what they're supposed to do, and general UI antipatterns. This isn't the only post on HN today about modern UIs, prompted by phonisms, regressing functionality. There's one about scrollbars too, which is another area that Apple has lead the charge on messing up.


I mean, I'm personally strongly against showing scrollbars almost everywhere on mobile because any kind of visual noise makes the UI harder for me to parse, the scroll position is not relevant to me usually, and there is not enough screen real estate to make it an actual usable control. I understand this is a personal preference, but I assure you I am not alone and these ideas _were_ tested and debated because there aren't obvious solutions here. You have a much much bigger pointer closer to your face than on Windows 95 (which I remember as a usability nightmare personally to me as a child, I don't know if people have rose colored glasses or it is a generational thing). On desktop I don't have any good arguments, but at least it is an option to re-enable there.


This is the first and only time I've heard someone argue against scrollbars.

Even the very thin and translucent ones that just function as an indicator?


I find the ones that are translucent and appear on touch to be very useful. This is mainly seen in the MacOS world I think, I know for sure I see it in VSCode.


Was it ever announced? How are new users supposed to figure anything out?

My C=64 came with a thick reference manual, with circuit schematics in the back. Every computer I've bought since then has had a smaller manual. I think my smartphone came with a small pamphlet with a couple screenshots.

It seems you're supposed to learn how to use electronics these days by having people say "oh, don't you know?"


I mean, ideally electronics are designed so that it’s impossible not to understand them if you’ve been raised in a more or less progressive civilization.

It’s just that often they are not, and both good and bad design comes without a decent manual.


It feels like we zoomed on straight past the highest point on that curve and we're regressing. As the other post mentioned, computers used to come with big thick manuals to tell you everything you needed to know, but over time, as software UIs improved, these got thinner and thinner. Until there was no physical manual to get any thinner - then the UIs started getting worse.

It feels to me like it happened around the time of the first iPad. That was such a usable device (and OS X was just about at its peak of perfection at the time) - I remember just opening the box, turning it on, and everything being intuitive. I’m 99% certain scroll bars were still present then, for example.

I don’t think we ever really made the transition from paper manuals to online help very well. Some apps need additional help, and some even make it available, but I rarely see people-in-need actually making use of it. Heck, they rarely even consider googling for help (the issue in the article can be worked around, at least, with a google search). At least with a physical manual, you knew how much help was available/necessary for a given app - that’s just not the case with 'software help' or help online.


Speaking of discoverability, as I was playing around with this I just discovered that there's another way to paste besides these two: if you just tap with three fingers, it brings up an undo menu that also has a paste option (different from the select menu).


"three finger un-pinch" is a shortcut for advanced users. It's not the standard, discoverable way to paste.


> 1. Do a three finger unpinch gesture, and it will paste at the cursor.

Crazy! Apparently there's a whole set of commands accessible this way, most notably three finger swipe left = undo!!! This is a significant improvement. They could've told me while I was painstakingly shake - confirm undo - shake - confirm undo - shake - confirm undo ...... ing!


I'm gonna be publicly ridiculed for this one and I'm good with that.

I've been trying to get the show desktop gesture on my mac right for years. You know, the one that "windows-D" was doing so loyaly for ages.

My habit is to arbitrarily swipe as many fingers as I can find available from center of trackpad outwards. It used to take me ~10 trials to get it right.

And now, enlightened by this random thread, I suddenly figured out I actually need to swipe 3 fingers upwards and one downwards simultaneously. This is the greatest Epiphany HN had given me since https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13651148


I had no idea what you meant with "swipe 3 fingers upwards and one downward", but the image and description at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204895 made it much more clear.


OTOH, more than one mouse button would be "confusing".


I have a 90% success rate with my totally different approach-

put four fingers in the center of the trackpad- not touching each other, but very close. then naturally spread them apart.


F11 does it


I know but though I have pretty big hands I can't do fn + F11 with one hand, so it's a no-go.


> Crazy! Apparently there's a whole set of commands accessible this way, most notably three finger swipe left = undo!!! This is a significant improvement.

How is that an improvement? I get that the shaking gesture is horrible, but this one is not better: a three finger swipe is unusual, impossible to discover, hard to do. I don’t get why swiping left, usually associated with going to the right (= forward in Western cultures), is here used to undo (= going backward).


yeah, I absolutely loath these gestures with a passion. Impossible to get right when you need them, and impossible to avoid doing by accident when you don't


All the non-discoverability of vim, without the power!


Don't forget that three finger swipe right does... "redo"!


People have the patience of learning the new tricks ONCE when they get a new phone. After that nothing major like this should change. I am sure this change would have created more than a few hundred WTF moments while someone was driving/cooking/whatever and texting (yes, I know it is bad, but everyone does it) and I wouldn't be surprised there are a few accidents.


> Double tap selects a word, and triple tap selects a paragraph.

FYI: Triple-tap is for sentences. Quadruple-tap is for paragraphs.

Text selection is the one area that the lack of 3D Touch affects me the most, and I am truly upset about it.

With last year's phone/iOS, you could 3D Touch anywhere on the keyboard and enter a cursor-move mode. This was replaced with the spacebar thing, which is fine.

But then while moving your cursor around in the old version, you could 3D Touch again to select a word, again for a sentence, and again for the paragraph. I could select text so easily! This made deleting sections or copy/pasting bits of edited text sooooo much easier.

Now it's significantly worse. I can move the cursor fine, but then to select text I have to use my fingers to tap on the text directly and it's much more difficult to be precise. (Why? Because I can't see through my fingers, surprisingly. You can see through a cursor just fine.)

Sigh. I'm really disappointed in this change specifically.


It’s not as good as the 3D Touch version, but you can tap a second finger on the keyboard while moving the cursor to enter select mode


As an android user who left iOS some years ago, this sounds absolutely awful.


Same here. I thought IOS was cool in 2007 when most people first got it, but then the constant forced-upgrades and forced-updates of the phone where it would randomly reboot the phone while sitting idle on your desk and where you would randomly lose functionality -- this was happening in 2007 -- made me really want to switch to something different. I always felt like Steve Jobs was in my pocket and I couldnt control the phone, it was controlling me.


So you went to a platform that on 99% of devices barely offers any OS updates?


It seems like the OS updates are part of the problem. In particular, updates are still delivered as a bundle of 'good stuff' whether its security patches, bug fixes, feature updates, or fundamental UI reimaginings. I know most 'normal' users don’t want to concern themselves with these details, but most 'normal' users just want to use their device to get something done, not have to relearn how to use it every six months. Even if that means it’s 'better'.

Classic car comparison: imagine every time you took your car in for a service, the mechanics not only fix any problems, fine-tune the workings, and give it a clean, but they also 'improve' the controls. Your automatic becomes a manual, you gain acceleration but lose top speed, and your indicators switch with your wipers. It would be an absolute nightmare, up with which no one would put!


i use devices that do frequent device updates, but the point is they dont force them on you and reboot your phone without human intervention...


1. Do a three finger unpinch gesture, and it will paste at the cursor.

I sneered at the pinch/unpinch copy/paste gestures when I first read about them. But Apple's implementation, at least on the iPad, is stellar. I'm still not used to it, but when I remember to use it, it works flawlessly every time.

And there's even a little feedback bubble that pops up at the top of the screen letting you know you did something. That kind of feedback in invaluable, and desperately lacking in this era where programmers look down on feedback animation as superfluous.


"Three finger unpinch" sounds like that move from Kill Bill 2.


I hate selecting text on my work iPhone. Android does this far better and you don’t need to learn tricks like pressing down spacebar.


How does Android do it better? I don’t remember there being any way other than the fiddly little handles, which you can also use on iOS


There's a handle on the cursor, it has a pretty big area where you can grab it. Once you've grabbed it you get a magnified view of where the cursor is as you're dragging. I think it also scales down your dragging motion to make placing the cursor in the right spot less fiddly too, but I haven't got any real evidence of that other than feel.


Excellent summary! More in depth for those interested:

https://www.macrumors.com/how-to/use-text-editing-gestures-i...

FWIW, I recall being shown some of these new gestures (cut and paste, undo) in post-update iOS 13 splash screen of some kind.

By contrast, when I hardware swapped from XS to 11, nothing prepared me for the loss of formerly oh-so-intuitive 3D Touch. I’d read about it, didn’t realize how second nature it had become. I often saw others struggle with or unaware of 3D Touch, so my guess is Apple metrics showed it wasn’t as widely used as they’d hoped. The other positive is consistency, as I occasionally attempted 3D Touch on iPad or old phones and felt stymied.


With older iPhones with 3D touch, there used to be a fourth way:

4. Deep press anywhere on the keyboard to switch to cursor moving mode.

On my iPhone X, I used this all the time. With the iPhone 11, there is no substitute: you cannot long press on anything but the space bar to move the cursor. Also, a deep press was quicker to activate, a long press takes a fraction of a second longer. It's a bit annoying.


The three finger unpinch on a phone is miserable


> 1. Hold down space bar and you'll enter a mode where moving your finger moves the cursor.

Specifically, either long-touch the space bar or force-touch any letter. Just don't force-touch the left side of the screen, which will invoke the app switcher.


You can hold down any key not just the space bar. Just press down anywhere (besides caps/options/emoji etc)


Changed in iOS 13.


Ahh, yep, thx

In fairness, iOS these days is wildly unintuitive, and I'm not yet thirty. It's positively littered with hidden gestures and features that you'd never discover during normal usage. Many of them are really slick once you learn about them! But discoverability is worse not only compared to previous Apple software, but even to other systems like Android. And from what I've read, iPadOS is even worse.


I switched from iOS to Android in the iPhone 4 days, and switched back last month.

The new iOS UI/UX is horrible and it's extremely difficult to understand how the hell to navigate anything. Part of this is the obsession over gestures in place of buttons, the size of the screens and distance of the swipes also makes it difficult to use with one hand (I can't use my thumb to unlock the device), apps are completely unintuitive, and there seems to be an obsession with presenting new data at you rather than keeping the same pathways to find previous data giving me a sense of always being lost in every app.

The Podcasts app might be the best example of a horribly designed product. I can't believe anyone at Apple is actually using that app.

I'm going to stick with Apple due to privacy concerns for the time being, but I'm really upset with my purchase.


> The Podcasts app might be the best example of a horribly designed product. I can't believe anyone at Apple is actually using that app.

Every time I start an episode I immediately just to the nice "jump 15sec" button that's in the lower right so that I can skip the lead-in ads. But I've found that button to be terribly unreliable. As I find myself jamming it over and over trying to skip the ads that I'm hearing.

What I discovered is the contact patch for the button is actually quite small, so you have to just delicately tap it with the tip of your finger so that it doesn't register touch outside of it boundary. Super frustrating when the clear boundaries of buttons disappears back in the dawn of "all things flat".

Note this may have improved in iOS 13 but I have yet to upgrade.


I've gotten to where I really enjoy using it (for the most part: the notifications list stands out as feeling terrible compared to Android), but only after, like, reading guides on the internet. Which is the kind of thing Apple products have traditionally prided themselves on not requiring.


re: notifications

Is there a way to dismiss them with a single gesture like on Android? I haven't figured that part out, it's weird since swiping it right opens it, but so does tapping it, and swiping left opens a Manage | View | Clear All (x) menu.

It's so hard to use this thing with one hand...


If you keep swiping left past the Manage | View | Clear menu, Clear expands to fill the width of the notification. If you release your finger then, it’ll trigger Clear. It’s pretty hard to do reliably, though.

There’s a similar behavior with the swipe gestures throughout iOS. In the Phone app, swipe left on a voicemail to show a Delete option. Keep swiping, and Delete fills the whole cell. Release when it’s expanded to trigger Delete without an extra tap.


Just tried it and it looks like you can long-press then swipe down to dismiss.


how intuitive and appropriate for that action.

edit: it takes me about 2.5 seconds to dismiss a notification with that action. I don't know about y'all but I dismiss notifications way more often than open them. Seems like it should be just as quick to dismiss it as open it.


swipe left 2x, or hold down the X and "clear all notifications". still not as fast as Android, but can't say I've ever been bothered by it.


ahh thank you.


See I've had an iPhone for a year now and I didn't know that


If you tap the X on a stack there's a "Clear All" button


I would recommend to try Overcast instead of the default podcasts app: https://overcast.fm/


is there a list of features somewhere and are the two listed possible to be disabled? DSP-by-default is an anti-pattern for audio products and I don't want to install an app without seeing what it does...

Pretty much all I care about in an app is discovery (does it list related podcasts?), organization (does it keep my listening history), and playback ordering (does it support chronological | reverse chronological | custom playback ordering for episodes of the same podcast?).


> The new iOS UI/UX is horrible and it's extremely difficult to understand how the hell to navigate anything

Meta comment. It's interesting to see the debate on HN between optimizing for power users versus lay users. For the latter, we cryptic settings and/or hidden functionality. For the latter, we get a limited set of communicated functions.


What's weird is that Apple products used to be for lay users (and still pretty much market themselves that way), but their UX design is now much more power-user-friendly. Personally I'm mostly fine with it, it's just a weird source of dissonance.


Podcasts, Music, and News were designed by Satan's minions in a brilliant effort to confuse and depress the public.


The podcast app has always been bad - since iOS 4/5. Just use Overcast.


They end of the skeuomorphic interface was the end of usability. UI design went from functional for a wide audience to "looks good in a demo". This coincided with the rise of web apps because unlike desktop apps using native widget sets web apps are a "blank slate" as far as UI design goes.


I've been using computers religiously since I got my Vic20 at 9 or 10, after working for it for a year.

Almost every time I need to change something on son's aging iPad (2012 issue, updated to latest iOS but is before cut off point for iPad OS) it seriously risks defenestration.

Parental setup including App store restrictions is the absolute worst, followed closely by the scattered application settings.

If only there was an Android tablet that was as well physical engineered. Unfortunately they don't really come close.

So his iPad is for educational apps only, and I got him the newly issued Switch for gaming. The quality of the A grade titles is astounding, well worth paying; none of the ad ridden crap that's par of the course on the iPad. And even though I'm missing some granularity, their parental controls are a textbook case of fantastic UX work by comparison.

The companion Android app lets me easily define and monitor daily limits; it just works.


This is how it always was. They always have secret keyboard shortcuts that don't have a menu option. Still, to this day, it's hard to even find your hard drive folder by default in Finder. Apple's UX is incredible if all you need to do is look at photos.


"It feels like change for the sake of change when it worked perfectly before."

To my mind this is becoming a BIG problem in tech and I'm really saddened to see Apple falling for it. I guess too many people in a position to change things that feel like they need to justify their positions. Either way, it needs to stop. Sometimes good enough is good enough.


The JS ecosystem is plagued by this too.

The other day I opened a Vue project from 2-3 years ago and after installing deps with NPM it reported something like 50 critical vulnerabilities. Fine, I'll update dependencies. After doing that nothing worked anymore. The Webpack config didn't work, the Webpack loaders for Vue didn't work, etc. I had configured this project with an "old" version of Vue CLI and now everyone had moved on from that and changed their APIs.

I had a similar problem with an in-house Electron app from 3-4 years ago. A user reported a problem running the app on high Sierra. So I updated Electron to the latest version and compiled but then I got some new errors because Electron changed something and it broke Gulp. So I updated Gulp and turns out they changed their API too and I had to change the logic... I lost a day with this.

You can open an old jQuery project from 10 years ago change some stuff and everything just works, even after updating jQuery to the latest version.


Sadly, this is what happens when whoever is calling the shots doesn't care about stability and backward compatibility any more.

Combined with the current culture of "evergreen" software that is always connecting to online sources (even if it's installed locally), applies automatic updates, and doesn't support old versions in parallel with newer ones for extended periods, it's like we've regressed at least a decade in the quality of the software we use. Although next week it could be 13 years. And if you refuse to play, you don't get security or compatibility updates either.

The likes of Google, Apple and Mozilla bear great responsibility for actively promoting the evergreen and ratchet models: browsers, mobile operating systems and web and mobile apps have probably been the main drivers, and Apple has gone even further by weaponising its control of the app ecosystem via its App Store monopoly. However, it's not just web and mobile that are broken; more recently, it's been creeping into desktop applications and even desktop operating systems (Windows 10) as well.

Just as it's been the case with user-facing software, so it has also been the case with development tools. We seem to have trained an entire generation of young developers now who have no concept of maintaining stable APIs, using open standards for data formats and communications protocols, designing for compatibility and portability, and so on. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is also much worse in the worlds of web and mobile development.

It's a plague, and we need to kill it with fire.


I don't disagree with your sentiment re: Js, it's a problem for sure. But a jQuery project from 10 years ago is completely different from a pseudo-native app (aka electron). I guarantee the jQuery project doesn't provide an iota of the functionality that the electron app does (and if this isn't the case, why use electron in the first place?!)


People were already building substantial web apps long before the current generation of popular libraries and frameworks were around. Some of those applications are in use to this day, jQuery and all, and still in active development. They can include a huge amount of functionality after that much work has gone into them.

Would a team choose the same tools if they were starting those apps with a blank canvas today? Probably not. Is anyone going to throw away a decade of working code to rewrite the apps that already exist? Also probably not.


True, but my point is that backwards compatibility is almost totally neglected in the JS world and jQuery did that very well.


I think it's partially due to stack ranking. You have to justify your position to your peers (most of whom don't even use the application) and show everyone metrics of people using your crap. If you don't make any "improvements" to the app, you can't get any promotions. If an app is already perfect, then these "improvements" can only ruin the application.

It should come as no surprise that if you ruin your UI, "engagement" goes up, because people are dicking around trying to figure out how the hell it works now. Unfortunately, statistics are hard, and nobody really knows what they're doing, so I don't think the organization is always aware of this kind of stuff.


Sure, that's the incentive. But then why aren't their managers laying off or reassigning the staff who have nothing to do but fiddle with things that were already fine? The problem goes right to the top of product development leadership.


> why aren't their managers laying off or reassigning the staff who have nothing to do but fiddle with things that were already fine?

A manager who loses all his staff isn't a manager.


Yup, it's just another redundancy.


> I'm really saddened to see Apple falling for it

Apple was one of the pioneers of it with it's always changing skeuomorphisms followed by its plane design trend. Their marketing has been mocking the stability of their competitors since forever, and only stopped when that stability went away.

That said, I'm peaceful with he fact that I can't access most of the features of my phones (I use Android, that while not being a pioneer has followed quite passionately). That also helps restricting my dependency on it so I have the option of not being spied on and avoid problems once the functionality goes away.


Apple design often prioritizes "slick, stylish and minimal" over straightforward, obvious and pragmatic utility. It's definitely gotten worse as demonstrated with the iPhone X, but they've always had things like hidden gestures and timed presses for basic functionality.

Android designers aren't doing much better though.


Agreed, on both accounts. I'd like to interject that 15-10 years ago, Apple was stellar at this, I only noticed their general UX/UI out-of-this-world-excellence slipping down (slightly, still among the best-in-class, just not the unrivaled best) as of 2014 or so for the very first "little things", and by 2016-17 it had become a true UX issue for me.

I frequently support my mother for all digital things, and everytime I need to fix something on her iPad (or formerly her iMac, since then I put her on Windows), I too often spend several frustrating hours with a 50/50 chance of success. Android for my SO is the same, my god, it's a misery of UX, the absence of thought into human cognitive flow reminds me of old Windows sometimes.

To be fair I think we're seeing one downside of an agile ecosystem where things are much less holistic, much more disjointed than with previous waterfall, major version box paradigm. It'll take time before we collectively learn how to address these issues under the (relatively) new DevOps model. Things are moving fast, faster than ever; UX requires time. There's a fundamental tension here, it's not an easy problem.


Jonny Ive took control of software design about 7-8 years ago which I think caused a fall in usability even as things got prettier.

Sometimes look back at MacOS 9, even with its numerous issues and marvel at how good a lot of the UI/UX was.


> Jonny Ive

Ah, this would explain that. I seem to remember that he did not want to deal with software design, but pretty much had to to fill the gap after Jobs passed away. something along those lines. I'll cut him some slack for the monumental achievements in his career, but Apple as a company should re-think their UX strategy for the 2020's imho.

And thank you for a nice trip via MacOS 9 memory lane!


I think what really changed was the departure of Scott Forstall after the death of Jobs & the decision to put Tim Cook in charge.

Remove that someone who didn't just look at software as an accoutrement to hardware -- but as a necessary, functional part of that hardware (skeuomorphism was the natural outcome of this worldview), then replace them with someone who reveres form over function and we end up where we are.

Still missing Scott Forstall.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Forstall


I too revere this man as far as design goes. It is my understanding that he's not the best at managing whole products the likes of what Apple sells; my intuition is that he should have joined Google —a true engineering temple of software-first, imho.

But apparently he's taking a (probably much-deserved) time off from tech, so more power to him.


Jony was only doing iOS design for a year or so, around the release of iOS 7.


As Apple's first human-interface designer puts it, Apple optmizes for looks good in a demo.

Apple targets computer shoppers, not computer users.

https://asktog.com/atc/the-third-user/


That's tough. I think it's becoming more and more true these days; but I very much disagree if we look at a long story of best-in-class UX that truly set the tone for the entire industry and beyond.

Apple used to be much, much more than marketing; in fact the very smugness of their image and marketing comes from their unprecedented domination over computer-user satisfaction, superior design language that contributed as much to art as it did to tech, and so on and so forth. Even typography, one of Job's first huge intuitions and success, is a true user's benefit well beyond the looks.

I'm particularly harsh with Apple these days when I criticize their choices (UX, UI, manufacturing quality, product design, pricing, whatever), but that's because I hold one of the world's biggest company to much higher standards than what they're currently outputting; and I did not set those standards — they did for themselves over their own history. That has been their true gift to the world.


I remember "right clicking" with a long press back on Windows CE and Windows XP Tablets. If you had experienced this era of mobile devices, it is natural.

How to delete an app? Right click on the icon, delete. Kind of the same action on iOS as on Windows 95.


I just tried this on iPadOS. It’s not quite as simple as you suggest; the steps are:

1. Hold down (long press? 3D Touch? I’ve never quite understood the difference) on the icon until a context menu appears. This is analogous to right-click.

2. Select “Rearrange Apps” from the menu - you need to know/guess that deleting is a sub-action of rearranging.

3. Click the familiar close icon that now appears.

Step 2. is the new one, and it introduces quite a lot of friction.

On the other side of the analogy, I think there was an easier (more discoverable) alternative to the right-click in win95 - certainly OSX - which was to drag the application to the recycle bin / trashcan.


On Android:

"Options/other"-icon before: 3 dots ( https://cdn1.iconfinder.com/data/icons/android-user-interfac... )

"Options/other"-icon now: 3 horizontal lines ( https://cdn1.iconfinder.com/data/icons/android-user-interfac... )

I liked the 3 dots because it was natural for me to associate it with "etc...". I don't know what the 3 horizontal lines are meant to represent, but I know that it's really difficult to explain to my parents and that they keep forgetting its meaning because they cannot associate the symbol with anything :(

Similar thing with the "back button"-icon ( https://icon-library.net/images/android-back-icon/android-ba... ): it's an equilateral triangle, maybe pointing to the left, or maybe to the top/bottom right corners, or maybe just a "triangle" (associate "triangle" with "back"?) depending on how you think. I'd prefer a less stylish but classical arrow ("<") than that.

Etc... .


The three horizontal lines ("hamburger") is meant to represent entries in a vertical menu. In situations where pressing the button doesn't reveal a vertical menu, it makes no sense whatsoever.


I'm not sold on the new volume and silent mode controls on iOS 13. I can see where the designers are coming from, but it's harder to see and use. The bigger issue is that there's no setting to go back - the new way is just supposed to be better, for everybody.


Have the controls changed? I've only noticed changes in how it gets displayed -- what is harder to see and use? I mostly use the switch and the volume buttons.

The only thing that I've noticed is that when I use Sonos, it hijacks the volume button (so that the volume on my phone controls the volume of the Sonos speaker), but when I stop using Sonos (like leaving the network or doing something else that uses sound), the Sonos setting is sticky. I usually have my volume muted, but after selecting a song on Sonos my local device volume is adjusted to match whatever the Sonos volume was.


Skype suffers the same problem. It's almost like Microsoft is paying these engineers to create new widgets and gimmicks that make the program clunkier, slower, and less secure. And then pays those engineers to "patch" those issues. I hate Skype so much, but I don't really have an alternative app to make prank phone calls to tattoo parlors and pastry shops in Ukraine.


This is what all people who are set in their ways say about all change.

It is very unlikely that people are changing things just for fun.


I think change for the sake of a "fresh look" which is often advocated for by middle management and marketing yahoos with too much power over design would count as "just for fun".


>It is very unlikely that people are changing things just for fun.

Why is that very unlikely? Many of these changes are not objectively better: they're just different and sometimes arguably worse. If you and your team decide you don't have anything to do for the next release, guess what happens next.


Here's how I think about it. Let's take the example of changing how to move the cursor from having the magnifier to dragging the cursor directly & using the spacebar long press trackpad.

Scenario 1 is that Apple has enough money, time, and manpower that they are constantly doing user studies, in-person and via survey, to see how people currently use and learn to adopt the product.

They find out that moving the cursor is something that people want to do often, but that the current method has some problems. It is hard for new users to discover, and the tap and hold takes a long time if you're doing it frequently, like in a text revising workflow. The magnifier was useful for the old low-res screens, but less helpful now that everything is retina.

They implement a few different approaches, and measure them against the old method. In their previous tests, they've seen that one thing new users try is dragging the cursor directly, so they try making that work, which is more discoverable. It's faster because you don't have to wait for the long press. They add some feedbacks so you can see both where it's tracking your finger, and where the cursor will drop in the text. And if those feedbacks aren't precise enough, you can use the spacebar trackpad method. In their benchmarks, the combination of the methods is easier to discover, and a big speed improvement.

They know that some users will hate being forced to change, because nobody likes being forced to change, but they honestly think it's worth the improvements. They take their findings to management, who personally try out the new methods and approve the change.

Scenario 2 is that Apple is such a large company that nobody really knows what other people or teams are doing, even management. There's nothing pressing for the UX teams to work on - I mean, aside from the AR HMD and the car. So, they decide to change up one of the core interactions of the company's most important product. They don't need to justify the change to upper management (all of whom use the product heavily), so it just sort of slips under the radar.

If you've got a more plausible scenario 2 I'd be interested to hear it, but yes, I think scenario 1 is more likely.


This particular iOS thing has also been annoying me since I upgraded to iOS 13 (which for the record, has otherwise been very positive for me). I really wish they had done some kind of "Here's what is new" tutorial.

Rearranging icons in folders is still a clusterf--k though - am I the only one that ends up fighting sometimes just to a) get the icon into the folder I want and b) actually keep it there without accidentally scrolling the screen, accidentally dragging it out of the edge of the folder because I'm trying to page it to a particular place?

What I'm noticing with iOS in particular is that lots of 'hidden' functionality is creeping in. This is something I remember Microsoft getting criticism for with Windows 8 -- non-obvious gestures like swiping from the edge of the screen to bring something up. Apple seems to have wandered down that same road.


god yes I fucking hate trying to rearrange my icons

oh look I accidentally moved this icon between two others and it reflowed everything and the last icon in THIS screen is the first on on the NEXT screen and this cascaded to the next few as well, now I get to move them all back, joy!

It's especially fun when you are trying to put an icon into a folder in the last slot in a screen and it slips to the next page instead. JOY. UNMTIGATED JOY AND DELIGHT.

And I still hate how you can't have any organization for your icons beyond "all of them crammed up towards the top left of the screen". I still miss that from Android and I still miss that from the days when there was a usable jailbreak.


I think the cascading thing has been fixed in iOs13 as long as you don’t drop the icon


Yeah, rearranging icons has always been inexplicably fiddly, but they somehow managed to actually make it worse in iOS 13.

It used to be possible to explain most of the mechanisms and concepts in iOS with about a ten minute tutorial. Now it feels like every time I see my parents I have to explain some new concept or procedure to them.


It is easier if you use two fingers--one to "pick up" the icon or icon you want to move (you can grab a whole stack of them) and the other to navigate to where you want to be.


I've gone the opposite direction (or just skipped ahead into second childhood?) - if I can't see the option I want I spend a minute or so monkey-slapping the screen in random directions with random numbers of fingers, because apparently this is what qualifies these days as "discoverable".

(A simple example I discovered before I devolved to this level - when looking at messages on an iphone, swipe and hold left to see the sent times. Did you know that? If so HOW DID YOU KNOW?)


I knew because it was in the tips app, that shows how to do new stuff with new releases. I got a notification from the tips app after I upgraded, offering to show me what’s new.

Somehow this doesn’t seem to work for everyone. Not sure if people just ignore the tips app notifications or if they don’t get them for some reason.

It’s a normal app you can run any time. I just looked and the cursor movement as well as peeking at the times of messages are both in there and demonstrated.


I ignore them because I'm typically trying to do something like right now and those get in my way. How about something more discoverable to begin with? When you hide all of the damn controls behind silly gestures this is what happens.


They give you an intro to everything you asked them to show you, it takes 20 seconds, it’s featured front and center after every upgrade. And if you ignored it because you are trying to do something like right now, you can even go back and look at it again. It’s really pretty handy and nicely produced.


Yet if it's needed only because they continue to change things around and make basic functions more obscure... why is that a good thing?

And I still don't want to spend 20s. You can call that silly, and you're not completely wrong, but watching some stupid iMessage tutorial in my prescious free time isn't exactly something I want to do.


Power users prefer increased functionality over discoverability. Similar to how the command line is foreign to most computer users. For iOS, you're on the "prefer discoverability" side of the spectrum; Apple seems to build more for "prefer advanced/invest time to learn".


Yes, but it doesn't answer why these things had to change and why it is better now.


For me I was always struggled to get the phone to do what I wanted. Either selecting or moving the cursor. It works better for me now. You drag to select, tap to place a cursor, or “pick up” the cursor for more precise placement. i still use the long touch on the spacebar though out of habit. And it’s where my fingers are naturally most of the time when I’m doing stuff with text.

The gestures became more single purpose.

I get it that we like the way things work and when they get changed it’s annoying.

But unless you think the phone has reached the perfect interface with no room for improvement, you should continue to expect things to change.

If you do think it’s perfect, well, good for you. Stop upgrading, and you will at least have a few years of stability.


A steering wheel is not the optimal steering device since we have cars with power steering, but changing that would make necessary for everyone to adapt to their vehicles again and would result in many accidents and many deaths.

Evolution is good, but the right pace is not always the fastest one. It can of course be faster for phone UIs than car UIs, but every change is still a potential hassle for all your users and should be carefully considered even if it is, objectively speaking, an improvement.


I have been looking for that for so long!


It feels like change for the sake of change when it worked perfectly before.

I fired up my old launch day iPhone a few weeks ago. The phone works great, though some of the apps no longer have services to connect to (Weather, for example).

What struck me is how intuitive iOS 3 was to use. Everything seemed more (to use the parlance of our times) "discoverable."

Maybe part of it was just remembering how things work, but it seemed like a much better experience than iOS 13.

Also, as much as people on HN enjoy bashing skeuomorphism, the fact is that it works, it's intuitive, and is 9,385% more user-friendly than a bunch of identical Playskool-colored squares with no demonstrable function.


Even little things -- the slider to unlock on the main screen. Incredibly obvious even after a minute of playing with it (my toddler at the time had no difficulty with the concept, despite not being able to read).

And the single button model was incredible as well -- "stuck somewhere? Press the button. Want to switch apps? Press the button." It was guaranteed that the button was not controlled by whatever app you were in; now all the gestures and sliding stuff means that half the time I'm stuck doing some in-app operation when I really want to do a "phone" operation. And I'm on an iPhone that still has the button! I dread the moment that I'm going to have to give it up.


Skeuomorphism and pixel perfect design where the interface was tightly tied to the screen resolution doesn’t work when you have multiple screen sizes. Back then developers only had to worry about the 320x480 iPhone screen and the 1024x768 iPad resolution.


Holy Christ, thank you so much for this:

> I couldn't figure out how to move my cursor around. It used to be perfect. I held my finger down, it let me move the cursor around in a word. Now you have to swipe the cursor to "grab" it and move it around under your finger. It feels like change for the sake of change when it worked perfectly before.

I had no idea you could move the cursor this way! Until I read your comment!


My wife had the same problem. I knew how to do it because the tips app showed me after I upgraded. Not sure if it didn’t show the same thing to everyone.

I think it works fine although I still generally prefer the haptic/long touch spacebar method.

I always had trouble with selection vs placing the cursor, and it irritated me to no end. The long touch spacebar works great though and I still prefer it.

If you aren’t familiar with the long touch spacebar, give it a try. It temporarily changes the keyboard to a touchpad for moving the cursor. It’s great.


There used to be a little magnifier, too, when I was moving the cursor around. I don't see it anymore, just the "caret" moves. I don't know if it's because I switched to the bigger size, or did they just drop that feature when moving the cursor.

At age 56, it's hard for me to see where the cursor/insertion point is, especially because it's blocked by my finger when I try to move it.


They dropped the magnifier between iOS 12 and 13. That's been bugging me quite a bit too as I was very used to using that to make cursor movement easier.

You can compensate a bit by grabbing the cursor from a lower spot in the I-bar, to the point where you can basically grab the cursor from entirely underneath (ie, touch the cursor as if it was a line below where it actually is), but discovering that was a lot of trial and effort on my part, and it's still not quite so useful as the magnifier was.


One of the hazards of working in this space is that as you develop sympathy for others, trying to “think like a normal user” you eventually succeed. Your own thinking starts to shift and pretty soon you suffer from the same class of problems.

I overheard several people talking about this when I first started thinking about UX and sure enough within a couple years I was making some of the same sorts of “mistakes”.


Having fallen into that thinking, at some point a few years back I realized that I was selling myself short by thinking that I should behave "like a normal user". And now I combat it with a secondary mindset of training some actions into muscle memory, as if I were learning martial arts techniques.

With a lot of hardware-only workflows, muscle memory training happens by default, which also means that they "get away with" really poor UX ideas at times. With software you can have some mixture of defaults/presets and technique. It's not worthwhile to try to customize all of it(good defaults are precious, early-binding forms are valuable) and technique usually suffices for covering the remainder. But technique is less discoverable than a settings menu, as well, and swipe-and-tap techniques are extremely so since they operate on many dimensions. Compare the new iOS gestures to chorded keystrokes - once you know that chording exists, you can learn any new one given some time.


For #1 - I feel the same way. I now use this technique instead -> https://mashable.com/article/ios-12-precise-text-selection-k...

Interestingly I did not know about it and only found out whilst complaining to a friend. Friend pointed me to this selection alternative, but it was not obvious.


That's a perfect example of UI discoverability fails. The feature is super useful and perfectly hidden. Will use this all the time now, thanks!


Prior to iOS 13 I used this all the time to great success but now it seems like whenever I use it, it tries to select all the text beneath wherever I move the cursor instead of simply moving the cursor to where I want it.


Rofl, just yesterday I was teasing a ex apple employee about how I can do that very same trick in Android but apple can't do it unless you install the Google keyboard.... Even HE didn't know this trick was in the default some keyboard!

Can't wait to show him on Monday... Lol


Wait, how do you do that on Android? Do you mean with Gboard?


Yeah, it actually does work. Didn't know about it either til now. The trick is to swipe from space button in GBoard, then selection cursor moves. If I just hold my finger on spacebar it triggers language selection, so it's a bit tricky


Ah, I don't use Gboard, it's a shame SwiftKey doesn't have that...


Can't get that working in my android


It's in the Gboard settings under "Glide typing": "Enable gesture cursor control". There's also "Enable gesture delete".


It's all enabled.is it not working because I have multiple language keyboards available and it changes the behaviour of the space bar?


Designers gotta design, I guess. How to justify that $300,000 annual compensation when there's no work left to do?


As a designer who makes nowhere near $300k, please tell me where these jobs are that pay that much and let you break things.


Apple, it would seem.


As evidenced by all the posters here who didn't know about features, there's plenty of work left to do.


Indeed there is, but not in the area of adding more cryptic, convention-breaking features offering little improvement in the user's experience, even when they do not actually degrade it.


I miss the cursor magnifying glass widget and will miss using 3D touch to open the cursor when my iphone 8 eventually dies. Disappointing. That used to be one of the major things separating iOS from Android. Holding the spacebar feels nowhere as smooth.


I found the 3D touch on the keyboard to be flakey compared to the spacebar -- if you moved your finger before 3D touch activated, then it lost context and wouldn't activate 3D touch, and then you'd have to delete the stupid 'j' that just got dropped in your email.


My suggestion: get a used 10S when your 8 dies.


I was just trying to select all before giving up and manually moving the edges of the selection bar. Eventually I found out you can only select all when you have nothing selected and hold the cursor and release. And I'm 20...


My cynical view is that this is just more promotion-driven development for all those UX designers. The optimistic view is that this is necessary to integrate new features. The reality is probably somewhere in between.


> I couldn't figure out how to move my cursor around. It used to be perfect. I held my finger down, it let me move the cursor around in a word. Now you have to swipe the cursor to "grab" it and move it around under your finger. It feels like change for the sake of change when it worked perfectly before.

This 1000%. Working with text on iOS is such a pain now.


Hold on the space bar. They removed force touch on the whole keyboard, but this is an okay alternative. I find not having to hold my finger over what I'm selecting much easier to use.


They should let us re-enable holding anywhere on the keyboard. I used to always hold the middle of the keyboard, giving me lots of room to move in any direction. Now that we have to hold the spacebar, we have very limited room to move down. English doesn't use any special characters that requires me to hold down any letter on the keyboard, so I should be able to re-enable long touch on the whole keyboard for moving the cursor.

Or make it like iPad, where two fingers will move the cursor from anywhere on the keyboard and without any hold.


I don’t think the changes to selection and sharing in this update had any point.

Previously when I got an update I would think ‘oh, that tiny annoyance is finally gone!’, but now I just thought ‘why in fucks name did they find it necessary to change this’.


Yep - the biggest difference between older and younger people in a usability study is that older people remember things and younger people discover things. As much as I like iOS - it favors discovering over seeing and remembering.


Hold finger over the "space" button - you'll switch whole keyboard into the mode where you can move cursor by moving your finger.

"Select all" disappears for 36 y.o. too, and I have no idea why and how to fix it.


I also can't find Select all for the text shown in the browser, when the cursor is anyway not visible before.

Btw (not iOS 13 specific) when I select the word in browser the hovering menu has more options behind a minuscule right arrow that I almost always manage to touch outside, making the menu disappear. And I need the "second part" often. Sad.


The best I can find is while holding the space button, use another finger to "click" then drag the space to select.


> It feels like change for the sake of change when it worked perfectly before.

Companies hire too many designers, developers, project manager and product managers which means they must do something to occupy their time. Bug fixing is boring. Writing something new is sexy. Sexy > boring so you get a "new and improved" version.


I'm not really following the complaint here. I've been on iOS 13 for a few weeks, but honestly I don't recall that much of a change.

Now you can tap anywhere to more the cursor there. Before you had to do some sort of cursor grab I think.

You say "under your finger" but obviously you'd move your finger down or up so you can see where the cursor is going? There's no swiping gesture needed anywhere, not sure what's that about?

I do remember it being very annoying to move the cursor before. Now it seems much easier. I'm happy, that's one data point I guess. And yeah, I'm getting older. My father, now 70-something, says he likes it, too.


>I cannot figure out why things have to change

How many promotions in your life did you get by not changing things? Or by doing the exact same thing as the guys before you did?


ITT: “The A/B test and creepy stalker analytics told us that everyone was doing other things more often so lets not show these less often tapped features”


Re: 1), you also have to place the cursor before you can grab it and move it. You used to be able to place it precisely in one step using a long press to get the the magnifying glass, but now that selects the word under your finger instead.

If there’s no cursor yet, you have to 1) tap somewhere to get a cursor to appear, 2) drag it where you want it.

Super annoying to change such a basic, useful functionality.


i still can't figure out how to do screen splits on iPad, since it was introduced in OS 11? i watched videos on it, etc, and still couldn't get it to work. the only way i got it to work is to split screens for an app that's on my dock, which itself is very limited.

i ended up giving the ipad to my 5 year old as his toy and the other day it died completely.

i guess i will never know.


I blame the flat design trend, it is not intuitive.


For me and the whole family, sharing via WhatsApp has gone from being the first option to being hidden under a sub-menu. Naturally my mom has stopped sharing photos on WhatsApp since the iOS upgrade. Certainly there is local historical telemetry data so removing one of the most-used options during an upgrade seems careless.


Deep at the bottom of that submenu is a place where she can change the order of what's shown in the share menus, but the likelyhood of her ever finding this is of course nil.


one of the more challenging experiences in my adult life was my dad screaming about how upset he was that windows had forced some upgrade, and as a result (?) he'd lost genealogy work he'd been doing for years (eventually he found it).

he was furious, and crying, and shouting... "i don't want any f* upgrades! just leave my f* computer alone!! i never asked for any of this, i just want to do my work"

i dont' spend a lot of time at the house any more ... and i didn't know what to tell him, so i hugged him. later i brought up linux (again) and i think we'll get to that place soon, so that he has a chance to learn before age sets in too much further.


Be sure to check out the tips app. It has stuff like this in it.

The long touch spacebar method still works great for cursor movement and it’s my preferred way.

Also, that’s weird about the select all. Still works for me, but I can’t be sure the behavior didn’t change.


One reason I like to force touch the keyboard rather than using spacebar is that, when you force touch, you can force touch again with the cursor active, and it will select an entire word. Dragging on keyboard now expands the selection a word at a time. Force touch again (while keeping your thumb on the screen) and it selects a whole paragraph. One more force touch and it switches back to a plain cursor.

It doesn’t seem possible to do this using the long-touch spacebar approach.


I agree it was better before. One nice tip, though, is that you can press and hold the spacebar to turn the keyboard area into a trackpad of sorts to move the cursor. That’s totally undiscoverable but works well.


Im running iOS 13 and those features are all still here. Are you sure you haven’t changed some kind of accessibility setting?


I disabled the swipe keyboard and now selecting text works like I expect it to again.


Cursor thing has also made me sad. It's confusing and hard now.


It's charming how he goes out of his way not to step on any designer toes. "I’m a developer with an eye for design, but I’m certainly not a designer. So I don’t know what the solution is to these types of accidental UI bugs."

No, yeah you do, you just said it in the previous paragraph: "And since iOS (and in some places now macOS, too) doesn’t offer visual affordances like scroll indicators, she had no idea there was any content further below."

I don't feel bad being critical of their UI choices, precisely because Apple was the company that made a big deal about UI and how far ahead of the poor hopeless gray conforming IBM Microsoft masses they were. And I mean, yeah I would've bought it, back then. Their stuff at its best was always a holy union of simple, functional and beautiful. But function came first, then simple, and beautiful arose from that, kind of in the Zen sense. Kind of like how a well-crafted hammer can be beautiful even though it's just a hammer. But at some point they went whole-hog into putting "beautiful" first, probably because that's where the money is. If you're not careful with that, you wind up being beautiful and stupid like the popular kids in high school. A beautiful hammer with no handle is just a crappy piece of shit. Even though it might be a great hammer(head), it's crippled by its lack of a proper UI.


Leave poor “beautiful” out of it! It’s innocent! Apple’s shit is beautiful because it is simple and functional, not the other way round.

I think the issue is now that their products become weirdly tacky looking from being functionally weird. The notch, the Touch Bar, the overladen gesture menus... it’s all kinda aimless and floaty. Let’s not even go into how they turned a MacBook workspace into dongle central.


I'm with you on everything else (I'll be the first to admit that I love trashing Apple at every opportunity I get these days), but I find it weird that people criticize the dongle thing so heavily. Surely standardizing everything to USB-C would be an example of the exact thing you're talking about? (keeping it simple and functional). Somebody has to make the switch first, and if Apple didn't, wouldn't we all be using dongles anyway, just the other way round?

I'm happy to cop a bit of temporary pain in the pursuit of standardization. It's the one thing that actually isn't shitting me about my work Macbook.


Where is the USB C on my iphone? Why do I need a dongle to connect my brand new I phone to my brand new MacBook? Why do the headphones that came with my iPhone not work in my MacBook?

Why does my magic mouse not charge via USB C? My keyboard? It has been years now, why hasn't this happened within the company? Shouldn't Tim Cook be banging a pot and pan outside every team's door asking why they haven't gotten with the program?


I have a brand new iPhone and the cable that is included with the phone connects directly to my 2019 MacBook Pro.


I made a decision. I’m gonna upgrade my iPhone when Apple makes usb-c iPhone rather than lightning socket.

It’s really double spreak on their end. I don’t give a shit about the new fancy features. I just want Apple to simplify the gajillion cables and converters I need to carry around.


I cannot for the love of my life understand why apple put a touchbar there. If someone regularly uses them, please share your experience.

My next personal laptop will definitely not be a MacBook at this rate.


I'm curious if Apple has some data that people secretly like the touchbar (I've never come across someone who uses it for anything). Beyond just being fancy-looking when you're in the Apple store comparing laptops... which I think is the whole point and makes you question the priorities of Apple's recent leader.

I wouldn't even care about the Touchbar if they left the rest of the keyboard alone, but apparently the escape key was seen as an unimportant key.


I miss the escape key.

I also like that volume and brightness are both sliders—I find the gesture of tapping the volume on the Touch Bar and dragging my finger up or down in the direction I want better than pressing a button a bunch of times until I’m at my desired volume. There are other things I like about it (and others I don’t).

I think it’s ok to like aspects of the Touch Bar and dislike others—it is possible to iterate to something better by being specific in one’s critique about what is good and what isn’t rather than just tossing the whole thing out (which is personally what I’d like to see...and maybe I’m in the vocal minority here).


I like the touchbar. I don't love it, but I like it and use it. For a Mac at least, if I were choosing between two otherwise-identical laptops, and one had the touchbar, and one didn't: I would choose the touchbar version.

I'm a longtime user of vi keys. I use them in Emacs Viper, vim in a pinch, and everything I can that uses readline. As such, I use the ESC constantly and I truly don't understand why people find it such a problem for ESC to be on the touchbar. It's just a slightly different feel but since it's a reach anyway, having a low-effort key there works for me. I don't know if I'd call it better but it's definitely fine. I've been using a touchbar Mac for all work for at least two years (I'm on my third--I don't remember when I got my first but it was around then) and it just isn't an issue for me.

On the other hand, since I use an alternate keyboard layout (Dvorak), it's quite nice to be able to put an input method switcher on the upper right of the touchbar that displays the current layout and allows me to toggle it. It was critical for years to be able to do this just to be able to practically use Yubikey hardware tokens, for example.

I also like having a screenshot button with an actual icon where I want it and to discard some of the control locations of the hardware function keys. Similarly having a lock screen button next to the fingerprint sensor is useful.

This makes the touchbar a bit better than function key buttons for me. Of course I could remap or reassign function key buttons; but for me function keys are infrequently used, so the icons and being able to create my familiar and preferred layout is a help. I use a different platform with function key buttons for a personal laptop, and while I have a button for ESC the rest of the function keys are comparatively less useful to me.


I found a way to learn to like it by using BetterTouchTool, which makes it more like a static customizable screen instead of the modal aware screen they marketed it as.

It gives me (always in the same place), currently playing song in Spotify with << || >> controls, weather tappable to see forecast for current location, a scrollable emoji keyboard, battery display, and standard brightness volume controls. Ctrl and Alt give me other modal contexts. All of those are nice for interacting with my host OS even if I'm, for example, working inside a VM at the moment.

Edit: it also prompted me to map escape to capslock, and now I wish that were default everywhere.

Edit2: having a scrollable emoji keyboard handy is honestly awesome, since I do most of my SMS messages through my computer.


I'm curious too. Anecdotally, I've never seen anyone use it for anything (I work in an office where Macbooks are standard issue). I think when I first got it I dicked around with it for 5 minutes, changing the colour of my terminal using the hue slider, and it was cool, but I haven't used it since. It just feels like a sales gimmick that serves no real purpose except to look fancy in an ad.


As a heavy vim user, I can’t live without escape key. One Of the fast way to alienate an entire userbase. I know people sometimes map cap lock but my brain is not conditioned to bimodal action and I don’t want to be tied to a certain specific keyboard layout, not to mention the pain to overwrite muscle memory.


So the escape key is there on the Touchbar.

It is always the same size. It never moves. It is always there.

And because the keyboard is already pretty thin the difference in feedback isn't that significant.


If it's always there, why not just shorten the touchbar slightly and put a physical key instead to get that sweet haptic feedback?


I'm considering coasting back to a Thinkpad for a while and check if they manage to un-fuck the MBP next year.

I'm fine if they just re-print the old sacred & holy Unibody with recent hardware, X62 style.

Perfection cannot be improved.


I quite literally only used the function keys for volume and brightness. The touchbar has sliders for them so it makes it quite a bit nicer to use in my opinion.

The ESC key isn't that big of a deal to me, it can still be used while touch typing. I have maybe one miss per month or so.


I love the touchbar.

You just need to customise it using something like BetterTouchTool which allow you to execute sequences of actions or invoke menu items.


Yep, I had an iMac stolen recently.

Guess what I bought with the insurance money:

A PC laptop.


Your first paragraph was precisely my point! But I guess now you're saying they've strayed from the beauty part recently too. I admit I don't know much about it, as I haven't used Apple stuff lately. (No particular reason on my part, just that the industry I'm in tends to keep pulling me toward Windows.)


It's more simple than functional.


I kind of hate the entire iOS 13 share sheet. Having the option to instantly send anything I happen to be looking at to my mom with an errant tap wasn't a feature I'd been missing.


On the flip side, the quick-send list is one of my favorite features of iOS 13. Instead of the arduous process to share something to my SO before (it was something like, share > Messages > type the first couple letters of her name and choose her contact from a list of names > send), it's much easier to just (share > tap her photo > send).


It lists your mom first too?

Honestly I rarely ever use any button in the "share sheet" except for Copy or Copy Link. Every time I open it I'm just searching for those Copy buttons. I'll "share" it myself with Paste. Idk how "sharing" ended up like this.


You have to hit send after tapping a contact to actually share. It isn’t instant.


I need to use a MacBook Pro for work. Discovering that there is an option to make scrollbars always visible when there is scrolling to be done was, by a significant margin, the best QOL improvement I have discovered.

This happens to me so often it's ridiculous. Maybe because I'm just used to seeing a scrollbar if there is a Y-overflow, and people that grew up with this system know to -- I guess just like try scrolling every interface and see if it scrolls or something? I dunno.

For anyone else in my boat:

System Preferences -> General -> Show Scroll-bars -> Always


> people that grew up with this system know to -- I guess just like try scrolling every interface and see if it scrolls or something? I dunno.

Yes, it seems like the younger generation is conditioned to a different form of UI "discoverability" than those of us who learned computing in the desktop era. I look for visual indicators, even on touch user interfaces, so I am always missing functionality that is hidden behind a non-visual interaction. "Pull down to refresh" is something I would have probably never found in many applications if it had not been pointed out to me. iOS is especially notorious for hiding features behind odd/innovative UI behaviors such as press-extra-hard or shake.

I almost feel as if "just show me visual indicators of all functionality because I am old-fashioned" needs to be a new accessibility concept or setting.


I am 30 and I find this hidden scrollbar fad (aka try-to-swipe-every-screen) really frustrating, am I already so old that UX designers should build special accessibility settings for me?

Sure, when I see younger people trying some new GUI they basically touch and swipe everything to discover hidden options and functionalities, because someone decided that a flat rectangle looked "cooler" than a button, or that a greyed out textbox looked more "modern" than a standard white one... but isn't this just bad design? what happened with make things as simple as possible, but not simpler and don't make me think?


Or the "shake to undo" in Notes on iOS that is totally undiscoverable. Also, three fingers gestures, 4 key keyboard shortcuts and ton of UI that changes when alt is pressed, Apple OS are actually harder to use than Windows in some respect.


windows generally had better default keyboard shortcuts than macOS, because many multi-key shortcuts could still be done one-handed (e.g., mash 2 keys with thumb), and shortcuts were better grouped somehow. the specifics escape me now, but i still miss the higher efficiency of windows shortcuts (which i haven't used regularly in over 10 years).


Shake to undo applies to all text boxes on iOS. But I don't blame you if you didn't know that, I only knew about it from the iPhone OS 3(?) keynote that introduced it!


Can you turn this off? I am asking because using an iPhone unlocked while cycling is activating this great feature regularly.


Go to Settings, scroll to the very top (beyond what shows as the top when you first open it). There's a search field (this is in a lot of other "list" styled interfaces like contacts as well). Type "undo" into the field. It'll bring up the location in settings to disable "shake to undo".

It's under the Accessibility settings if you want to just browse around for it.


Awesome, thank you very much


I'm gonna be the jerk who says you really shouldn't be using your phone while cycling.


navigation/gps? workout app? whats the difference between a workout app on my iphone compared to a dedicated device (e.g. garmin edge) in terms of safety?


You shouldn't be actively using, interacting with, and providing manual input to your device (be it a phone, garmin edge, or anything else) while cycling. An occasional glance at a navigation app (on a screen that is held by something other than your hand - a clip, stand, etc.) is probably fine - but taking your hand off a handlebar long enough to hold a device, and taking your concentration off your path long enough to interact with it, is asking for trouble.


quite a few assumptions here.

a) the shaking feature turns on even if i don't type anything just by the virtue of the phone being active (shaking can mean 'undo', not just 'undo typing')

b) i have it mounted on a quadlock on my handle bar, no holding whatsoever.

c) i take the risk of asking for trouble while cycling on a cycling path with no other cyclists near me (within, say, 300m). I am not cycling between 2 double decker buses while texting...


I'll grant you a) and b), but not the last one:

take the risk of asking for trouble while cycling on a cycling path with no other cyclists near me (within, say, 300m).

You don't know. If you start looking at your screen and you are moving, you are a danger to others. I don't care what happens to you, but I care that you don't hurt others. And you may.


If there is such a great risk doing that, do you not think that sharing the road with a car would be even riskier?

I.e. if there is no trust i can glance at a screen when i am on a cycling path with nobody around without injuring someone else, how can I be trusted while sharing the road with cars/buses/trams?


Well, I actually learnt about it years ago then forgot it. So, not only its impossible to find, it’s also easy to forget because no visual clues remind it.


I've been thinking about adding this to the app I'm working on, as a sort of UI hint. Just something real subtle at each edge that is scrollable, to signal the user that they can scroll in that direction (maybe a transparent animated chevron or something).

It definitely does feel like something the browser should handle though. Having to work on stuff like that instead of actual functionality is painful, especially for startups that are trying to iterate fast.


It seems like much of the design rules that evolved by experience is being thrown away by designers because they don't think it's looks nice or is clean enough. Interfaces like Windows 95 that are neither too early nor too modern seem to be really excellent at conveying meaningful information to the user.


The Windows 95/98 scroll bars were vastly superior to those in Win10. No matter the size of the window or the scrollable content, you can tell what is the scroll bar and what isn't. On Win 10 it's sometimes ambiguous. Removing the scroll bar when you're not scrolling is the worst design decision.


Apple removed the scrollbar first, because they wanted the screen to look more beautiful and simpler. Instead you may not be able to tell that a page is scrollable, or maybe where you are on a page.

It's the definition of false simplicity.

Everyone followed suit because Apple Keynote events just made everything look so magical, and Mac/iPhone snobs were taken seriously by the dumbed-down press, and now Windows laptops and keyboards are like their previously-less-functional MacBook counterparts.


Hmm, idk, perhaps a midway between removal and hiding would be to collapse it to ~1px so you gain real estate but still see the position in the document?


Windows 95 users often had 640x480 screens. Somehow they managed to get work done while still displaying scrollbars at all times. I think we can manage on our modern, high-resolution displays.


I'm a KDE user, I'd let you set the scrollbar to autohide (complete or partial) and the width of the deployed scrollbar and partially-hidden one too.


I use that from time to time. Some applications and some desktop environments on Linux do that. It's horrible, might as well not have a visible scroll bar at all. I'm fine if they're a little more narrow than the traditional Windows 95 ones, and the color can certainly be improved (maybe translucent Windows task bar / color-adapting Android notification bar), but expanding or hidden scroll bars are both super annoying on desktops.

On mobile I'm fine with hidden ones. Since attempting to scroll down never has an unintended action (I'm sure someone on the Internet can name an exception, but I can't name a single one so it's not the common case) I always just try to scroll and notice when it doesn't go further.

Maybe for desktop, it might be solved by having a free spinning scroll wheel. Then you can flick like on mobile and nearly never need to actually drag the scroll bar. In the rare case that you do, you can still grab the one that appears on demand (like in many mobile apps), and by appearing on demand you have a visual indicator of how much more there is. (The home/end buttons also go a long way, but one doesn't always want to scroll to the end or use the keyboard.) But until we universally have such mice...


There's definitely a few exceptions, though they're mostly minor annoyances or caused by apps that expect you to be permanently online with a good connection.

The most frequent one I've seen on Android is swiping down while (almost) at the top, and the entire view refreshes. This is mostly in the browser, which simply reloads the page after a few seconds (resetting any text fields you may have modified) and in this case the gesture can be cancelled by reversing it. Unfortunately, if the browser or app has been open for a long time (say, I've left a news app open for three days), the view can be quite different once it finishes reloading, and can be impossible to get back to where I was previously.

Lazy-loading content can also cause issues when offline if the placeholders don't update (Materialistic, the app I'm using now, has both these issues).

Occasionally I'll find an app that likes to do annoying bouncy things with the view when overscrolling the bottom of a list, but that's fortunately rare.


Um, we have an alpha channel now on every single computing device display.

You can make a scrollbar that "ghosts" over/under the content.


To make them always visible, search Settings for "Automatically hide scroll bars in Windows" and untick the checkbox.


Peak OSX / MacOS was Snow Leopard. From next version they hid scrollbars, swapped default scroll direction and started a steady move to make it seem everything should be hidden like iOS.


The success of phones and tablets appears to have made the desktop world afraid they were obsolete, so the trend since Snow Leopard and Windows 7 has been to make the desktop more like a phone or tablet. Windows 8 clearly went too far and provoked a revolt, so Microsoft improved things with Windows 10, but I think the Windows 7 UI is still better than Windows 10 in many ways.


I think that captures the why. Perhaps with a hope that a single UI between the two devices might be cheaper...

Windows 8 was a culture shock, but at least was clear in what it wanted to be. Personally I found it (and to a lesser extent the "mostly like a phone" UI of Win 10 and current MacOS) to be a mistake - I want a distinct and appropriate metaphor for a desktop rather than using it like a 27" tablet. People have dozens of apps and windows open, not one or two at a time.

Win 10, for me, is a mess. The whole flat thing went much, much too far, there's dozens of remnants of the Win 7 way of doing it in dialogues, settings, workflow etc. Win 7 is probably the nicest, and most coherent look Windows managed, but for workflow Win 2000 often had the edge! e.g. every version of Windows since 2000 has reduced the power of search, but made it increasingly obvious that it's there.


I am convinced if MS hadn't removed the start button but kept everything else as it was that Windows 8 would have been a success.

It was in the betas which I enjoyed using. But when it was removed it made the entire OS feel unusable to me. Whoever decided Windows Server 2012 should follow suit deserves just as much scorn.


Snow Leopard was also the last version that included Rosetta; after that many old apps became unusable.


My favorite was an issue which plagued Chrome for a while. When you need a scrollbar to jump down a very long page: 1) wiggle the page with two fingers to make the scrollbar appear, 2) switch from two fingers to one finger and grab the scrollbar handle, 3) just kidding, they automatically hid the scrollbar before you had time to grab the handle.

edit: the issue is still there :(


Yep, I've run into this. A helpful shortcut (in no way discoverable) is function+right arrow to instantly scroll to the bottom of a webpage.


I pretty much always use an external mouse on my Mac at work and at home. Plugging in a mouse automatically makes scrollbars always visible on a Mac and I didn't even realize that for a long while


Clearly, those of us who prefer a real mouse are too addled to use anything more sophisticated, so I suppose this, at least, is a +1 in the usability area.


I have usb mouse plugged into this mac and there was no scrollbar.

edit: I have a magic trackpad 2 also. It took when I turned that off and reloaded the page. Well that's annoying that I lose the scollbars with the trackpad.


I just yesterday found that you can scroll a whole iOS scroll area by scrolling a little then holding your finger over the now-visible scroll indicator bar to "grab it" and drag it around.

I've been using iOS since 4.


I thought this was added in iOS 13.


It was: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-13/features/ (under the "Text Editing" section)


In some interfaces (i forget where, maybe linux or the browsers) they try to annoy you by making the scroll bar so skinny it’s hard to select it.


Thanks for posting this, I never thought to check if scrollbars could always be on. This is a big improvement.


On Windows 10 this setting is in

Settings > Ease of Access > Automatically hide scroll bars in Windows > Off


Thanks! Still not always (in Chrome, still need to scroll or hover over the scrollbar to appear).


Does a setting like this exist for iOS?


Checking to see if something scrolls is way easier than looking at a design, calculating in your head if the margins look equidistant from one another thus deducing that it must be the bottom of the screen.

I always thought 'below the fold' was so overused or at least only for people who never use a computer, but I guess that's definitely wrong.


> Checking to see if something scrolls is way easier than looking at a design, calculating in your head if the margins look equidistant from one another thus deducing that it must be the bottom of the screen.

I disagree, because you're not calculating anything. You just see the existence of a scrollbar and know immediately that the content exceeds the viewport and you can scroll. That's it. It's at least an order of magnitude faster than the alternative of "checking" because it happens instinctively without the slightest motor movement.

"Checking to see if something scrolls" means some form of finger or hand movement.

I know what you're saying though, because I do see people do it all the time. There is an awkward, to me, pattern of "I just started reading, so let's shake the content up and down to get oriented." It's just as foreign to me as people who highlight text as they're reading. Not my thing, but whatever. (On the highlighting behavior, I always figured it's both a visual cue and at least partially a matter of highlighted text becoming light-on-blue, which is easier to read than most web pages' black-on-white.)

> I always thought 'below the fold' was so overused or at least only for people who never use a computer, but I guess that's definitely wrong.

That advice was commonly head in web design and it wasn't really about people not knowing whether they can scroll or not. But rather, that visitors might just decide not to scroll before they leave your content because the first page is so uninteresting to them. It's because scrolling requires interaction that you're motivated to make the "above the fold" content grab their attention.

A behavior of "let's see if this scrolls by actually scrolling" is, in my opinion, an anti-pattern of bad UX.


I don't know if this is still done in grade schools or not, but long ago when I was in grade school, teachers would pass out strips of paper for reading - and as a bookmark. The idea that the student would hold it under the sentence in the paragraph they were reading so that they didn't get lost or lose their place.

I had been reading since before I started school; it was something I picked up early and that my parents encouraged in me greatly. So by the time I was in school and we were doing these reading exercises (which were mostly utterly boring to me at the time, because my favorite thing to read at home were my various science encyclopedia sets), I had no need for such a placeholder. Reading was natural to me, and I knew where I was in a paragraph, etc.

Of course, this upset the teachers, until they finally figured out that yes, I could read, and not only that, I could read well above my grade level (that said, my comprehension wasn't as great, unless it was geared toward topics of science).

I always figured that people who highlight text as they read on a screen do so for similar reasons; not that it's a stupid thing or anything - sometimes with long lines, small fonts, bad color/contrast choices, etc in text on a screen, you do need some kind of a marker to help you along...


Now you are supposed to put the strip of paper above the line you are reading. It reduce re-reading, gives you context of what’s coming up next.


I frequently highlight text while reading because the lines are too long and I end up loosing where I am when looking for the next line. This is usually only a problem on desktop.


You might check out Beeline Reader. It's awesome for this exact use case.


Are you actually checking every paragraph, section, list, etc? There may be additional content with overflow-y…

(This is a real-world issue: In a write-up, you may want to present detailed data, but don't want to have every user, interested in the details or not, to scroll over several pages of extensive data. So the logical choice is to present a small, illustrative sample and have more in the overflow. The same technique may be used – and has been historically extensively used by the Engelbart community – for outlined text content.)


> Checking to see if something scrolls is way easier than looking at a design, calculating in your head if the margins look equidistant from one another thus deducing that it must be the bottom of the screen.

This is the typical narrow minded view that these app designers (not you) have. There are other uses for the scroll bar. For instance, I used to be able to tell how long it would take to read an article by looking at the scroll bar. Now they are gone and to compensate every other article now as an indication of reading time. Which is of course a worse solution, because people's reading speeds differ and it also clutters screen estate, even is a more annoying way.

The well known xkcd[0] about breaking workflows does not only apply to features, but also to UI. Few designers seem to acknowledge that.

[0]: https://xkcd.com/1172/


Who do you sympathize with in that comic?


Not when your head does that calculation automatically based upon the pattern recognition that it excels at.


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