Monday, November 03, 2008

Bad UI: The Apple mouse

Apple is known for products that not only have beautiful designs, but also have innovative and easy-to-use UIs.

So why do Apple mice suck so bad?

My mom and dad have a Mac Mini with an early generation "Mighty Mouse" that looks like the one in the inset photo. My mom has been complaining about emails and news articles mysteriously opening up in dozens of individual tabs without warning. On my last visit to their house, I discovered why: She was inadvertently pressing the little scroll button on the top of the mouse. It's not hard to do, considering downward pressure is required to click the entire mouse and activate a link. But by doing this and simultaneously hitting the little button, she also caused all unread emails to open up in tabs (when using Yahoo Mail) or news articles in an RSS feed in Firefox to open up in tabs.

It's not the only poorly designed mouse. The mouse I got with my 2003-era iMac didn't have any right-click functionality, unless you simultaneously hit ctrl. And then there were the dumb "hockey puck" mice from the late 1990s that were hard to hold and click.

It's gotten so bad, that I actually use a Microsoft mouse for my iMac. Heresy? No, just practicality.

Sorry, Apple. Pretty design /= good UI.

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