I follow Apple closely since 2009 when I bought my very first iPhone, the iPhone 3G. It was the greatest experience I have ever had with a smartphone. Later that year I also bought an iMac. It was the first one with an 21.5-inch widescreen display. Since then there has not been a single Apple product that I didn't buy. Today, I use an iMac for work, as well as my iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. I have always liked how all these devices work together effortlessly and seamlessy.
I literally loved Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall for what they have created here and I was getting excited for every Apple Keynote.
Two years ago it was time for a design change for iOS. I looked forward to the WWDC 2013 keynote and I liked what I saw. It was more than I expected. A bold redesign and not just a few changed pixels. None of the less, there were some rough edges and there still are. UI issues, performance issues and more.
In this article I'd like to cover a lot of issues and I will focus on iOS for now but a lot of the missing attention to details can be found in watchOS and OS X, too. This is certainly not a rant and I don't scream THIS DESIGN IS SHIT, GO BACK TO iOS 6!!. Most of my suggestions are subtle fixes and small feature additions that make life on iOS more delightful. I'm an app developer myself and I can assure you that these small changes can be realised in under 14 days.
I just hope this serves as an inspiration for the Apple Design team, since I have always liked the attention to detail that you guys had. It never stopped and it shouldn't stop now. But it sure feels like this is happening since 2013. I hope you listen to some feedback from one of your most loyal customers and I think I'm not alone with this.
First, I will talk about iPhone issues. Most of these are also issues on the iPad, but the iPad section will only discuss iPad specific problems. I obviously can't discuss every single design flaw but you should get the idea.
You can open all images in a new tab to see them bigger.
Thank you for your time.
Home screen icons
Thin text and icons without shadows look great on a very clean wallpaper. But who uses a clean wallpaper? Most images have millions of different color combinations and distractions.
Some subtle shadow behind the icons makes it look way better, doesn't it? It's much clearer where the icon ends and the wallpaper begins. It's also a possiblity to make the shadows more subtle to take away a "too heavy feel". The labels don't necessarily need shadows but this would be great, too.
User interface bug when tapping Details button
One small UI quirk can be seen in this video when tapping the 'Details' button. Normally, when navigating to a new view in a navigation controller it shouldn't move the view over the navigation bar. Keep an eye on the navigation bar at the top to see it.
In this second video you see the behaviour in the Settings app (and the rest of the system for that matter). This should be used in Messages as well.
UINavigationBar divider issue
After you tapped the Details button you can see that the navigation bar divider line's height is 1px (standard). If you scroll the view and scroll back to the top the table view divider sits right under the navigation bar divider and it looks like a 2px line now. It's more noticeable if you try it on a device.
Use the contentInset method of UITableView to prevent the cell divider line to show directly underneath the navigation bar.
When you tap the Inbox button in the Calendar app and you have no new or answered calendar invitations, you see these two screens. Why do the have a different styling?
Use the same styling for both views.
Better Camera UI
The camera uses black bars when taking photos at the top and bottom. Why not use blurred bars and a better mode selector?
The 'Done' button in the top right corner of the Favorites section needs to be bold UIBarButtonStyleDone.
Adding a new location
When adding a new location in Weather there should be separator lines (using UIVibrancyEffect) and a bigger tap target of 44px. A dark keyboard would fit great, too.
When you launch the Reminders app the search bar is gray at first and than flashes to display the translucent search bar. You can see it in the following video if you keep your eye on the search bar at the top.
Visible divider line and right margin
All Reminders cards stack on top of each other. As you can see in this screenshot, the divider lines from the card shows just above the other card. This could easily be solved by moving the cards up a bit.
Also, you can see that the cards are not aligned perfectly. On the left side it flushes with the border and on the right side there is a 1px gap.
Edit mode and info
When you hit "Edit" on one of the Reminders app lists it currently shows the options for setting a color and share it.
I think that the Edit button should only act on the items on the list and I would rather use a info button in the bottom right to access those options. Tap the info button and the card flips around to show the following options:
Swipe to mark as complete
Reminders does have a right-to-left swipe gesture to delete or view more. A left-to-right swipe could be used for marking items as completed.
New icon inspired by Apple Watch
The Clock icon could get some inspiration from the Apple Watch icon. This also creates a consistant design across all devices. Optionally, it could display numerals but the design could be adopted.
Some small design tweaks. White background color and full separator at the end of the list.
When you swipe to delete on a clock it disappears and if you slide further the grayish background is showing through the cell.
When you add a new clock and there's no result, the label is not centered vertically in the cell. The color of it should be light gray, too.
Stopwatch + Timer
Some tweaks to make the buttons look more button-y and nicer. Also saves some space for the list of rounds. The same button design can be used for the Timer.
When adding a new stock in the Stocks app the dark keyboard should be used, just like I suggested for the Weather app. The selection color looks bad on the black background.
Voicememos is by far the most difficult to use iOS app I've ever seen. I completely overhauled it. It's so simple it should be understandable without further explanation. You tap to make a recording. You tap to play it. Easy.
When you scroll all the way to the top, the search bar is sticking out.
There's no divider line below the navigation bar throughout the app. A simple fix makes it look better, right?
When scrolling in the Favorites view the topbar of Safari is not translucent. The bottom toolbar is, though. Should be an easy fix for consistency.
In tab view you can close pages by swiping them off the screen. You can only swipe to the left however and not to the right....
Dividers and edge to edge design
The headers (A, B, C, etc) don't have divider lines. Additionally, they're not using the full width and the divider lines of cells are not edge to edge, too.
The search bar is fixed to the top and doesn't scroll with the table view. This doesn't match the behaviour in other system apps.
When bringing up your Medical ID, either from your contact card or from the lock screen, it has a black status bar instead of a white one.
Just like in Contacts, the search bar is fixed to the top and doesn't scroll with the table/collection view. This doesn't match the behaviour in other system apps.
Share views (Facebook, Twitter, Reminders, etc)
Share views in the system have really bad contrast sometimes. This could easily be solved by using UIVibranyEffect instead of gray divider lines. The panels could also be simplified with a "more" options button. In addition those panels don't have the parallax effect when you tilt your device. They should adopt the new corner radius of 27px in iOS 9, same as the action sheets and alerts.
Proactive search bar
iOS 1 - 6 had a rounded search bar with a left aligned placeholder label. Starting in iOS 7 the new search bar style was a slightly rounded bar with a centered placeholder title. If you tap on it, it slides to the left and you can start typing. Now... Why on earth is there a search bar in the new Proactive Search screen in iOS 9 that doesn't match this new style? And why has it a left aligned placeholder title? (btw: why is there a microphone button [this actually just triggers dication] when there's a dedicated dictation button on the keyboard?)
Wrong Messages icon
When you search for 'Messages' in Spotlight, use the Siri help screen or use multitasking on iPad (iOS 9) there's a wrong Messages icon that's being used. In the bottom left you can see the right Messages icon. This was changed during the iOS 8.3 betas.
Siri bottom bar
A divider line at the bottom and a really subtle shadow would look better. Also a circle around the Siri microphone icon with UIVibrancyEffect would look fantastic.
Textfields in alert views
Why can't they look like they were made in 2015 and not in 1990?
The shadows on the keyboard are a little bit harsh. Above is the old keyboard, down below the new one with smoother shadows. Open the image in a new tab to see it better.
When opening the AirPlay menu (in this case from within the Music app) the Apple TV label is not aligned correctly. Additionally, the corner radius of this pseudo action sheet is 8px but in iOS 9 all alerts and action sheets have corner radii of 27px.
Make more use of UIBlurEffect
In the App Store the Wishlist and Category chooser could feature blurred backgrounds to create a sense of depth and vitality. It already was used in iOS 7 but was removed in iOS 8.
iTunes Store song previews in Control Center
When you play a song preview in the iTunes Store and you leave it, you can't pause the music in Control Center, nor can you see song information. Apple's Bug reporting team says: Engineering has determined that this issue behaves as intended.
No icon badges in Multitasking
Since the very first Multitasking UI in iOS 4 there were icon badges to see how many new messages/items an app currently has. In iOS 9 there's no way to tell if an app has a badge, because it's not displayed. It's a simple fix.
Share sheet icon outlines
Icons in share sheets don't have outlines. This looks great when there's a colorful background that can be blurred, but many websites and apps are just pure white and then it's hard to determine where the icon begins and ends. A subtle gray outline makes it look way better and refined. Open the image in a new tab to see it better.
Siri in German
When activating Siri and tapping the sound wave there's this help screen. The padding doesn't seem right on "Einige Beispiele für Fragen:".
The volume panel in the middle of the screen is distracting when watching video for example. It should be smaller and disappear faster.
Notes app paper texture
When you scroll in the Notes app, the paper texture scrolls with it. The paper texture should be below all scrollable views and stay fixed.
In Messages the master view (the left side view) of the UISplitViewController has a width of 320px. In Notes, too. In Mail, too. But in Contacts and Settings it has a width of 390px. The Reminders app presumably doesn't use a UISplitViewController but its sidebar is wider than 320px as well.
Decide what width you want to use and not use different ones across the system. The default for UISplitViewController is 320px.
Popovers on the iPad had no shadow at all in iOS 7 and 8. In iOS 9 there was a very, very subtle shadow added. That's not enough. Action sheets on iPhone work great without shadows. But popovers don't cover the entire screen but only a portion and they can overlay many different content areas. Shadows are essential here. Also, the popover arrow is just a image with a little translucency. It's not blurred like the rest of the popover and it looks really bad sometimes.
The scrollbar is not looking good when it's too near the corner. Use scrollIndicatorInset to move it up a bit.
Why are there no camera filters on iPad? This seems like strange omission because they are available on iPhone and you can apply them after taking photos in the Photos app, but not during the shot.
There's no reason for those missing apps on iPad: Weather, Calculator, Voice Memos, Health, Activity (the last two could sync over bluetooth to keep the data private from the cloud, just like iPhone + Watch do today).
Settings selection color
Why is the selection color for cells in the Settings app blue and not light gray like everywhere else?
Home screen folders
Home screen folders on iPad waste space. Currently there can only be 9 apps on display at a time. Taking inspiration from Launchpad on OS X, this can be solved easily and allows for 28 apps to be displayed at the same time.
The header bars in the Bookmarks sidebar (History section) look really bad. Additionally, there's no divider line at the top below the titlebar throughout all sections. The screenshot on the right shows what it could look like.
Shrinking top bar
Just like on the iPhone, the top bar in Safari shrinks automatically when you scroll. I understand that this is great on the iPhone where there's just not enough space but on iPad there's plenty of space (this was added in iOS 8). At least offer an option to disable this.
Tab view animation
When entering and exiting tab view on iPad, the animation is really wonky. Pay attention to the bookmarks bar moving at the beginning and end of the transition... Ugh.
Tab view animation 2
Closing a tab doesn't look much better...
Tab view in General
Wouldn't it be much nicer if the top bar here was blurred? Also the search bar doesn't follow the visual style of iOS' search fields (centered placeholder text, not left aligned).
When tapping the plus icon for adding a new contact, the popover shows up and the button disappears. Also, notice the weird animation of the letters on the side of the contact picker.
Why does the iPad use text buttons for directions and share? The iPhone version doesn't. Below is how it should be. Side note: why don't the bars have blur effects on iPad Air in iOS 9?
The iPhone variant of the Videos app has a tab bar at the bottom. The iPad version could use this, too. At the very least it could use a proper segmented control and not just a text based chooser.
The sidebar looks really bad. No alignment, no dividers, colorful labels on a blurred background...
Photo Booth uses a blurred bar at the bottom (Camera uses a translucent black bar). Also, the bar is at the bottom but in the Camera app it's on the right side. Why is there such a different layout for the same type of app (Camera)?
A few more things...
Icon & UIKit refinements
I'm no expert in icon design by any means but I think some icons could be improved with some subtle changes. I have made a few examples.
The Camera icon has a lot of effects like shadows and emboss. I think the camera icon should look coherent with the Photos icon to express the colorfulness of photos.
Simpler icon, green color to mark it as a 'phone' app likes Messages and Phone.
Taking some inspiration from the Watch Settings icon.
I think the thin lines are too detailed and they kinda disappear in the light gradient at small scales.
The icon could easily be made simpler.
The iTunes Store is not just for music. The icon should reflect that. I also toned the gradient down a bit.
Toning down the gradient a bit.
iOS 9 introduced new corner radii for alert views and action sheets. The other UIKit controls should also adopt those new radii for a consistent experience across the system. To avoid color clashing, the icon badges should have white outlines.
iOS (OS X and watchOS, too) desperately need more attention to detail like it was the case from iOS 1 to 6. The most obvious omissions are subtle shadows where it makes sense and divider lines to avoid clashing of content. Some animations are wonky and mainly the iPad animations are not as smooth as they could be, especially scrolling is not great in some areas like Notification Center. The iPad keyboard doesn't feel as responsive as the iPhone keyboard and the hardware is definitely not the limiting factor.
I am wondering why this is happening? Is it the missing quality control? Or is someone missing who looks after this kind of stuff?
If you need a new Senior Vice President of Attention to detail, I am ready.