Apple’s usability and information architecture blunders?


I was on the 7th km of my run when, suddenly the left speaker of my Bluetooth headset went almost inaudible.  I tried to adjust volume and on headset and on my iPhone but nothing worked. I just hated this predicament.

Just 15 days ago, I had got my headset replaced because the left speaker of my headset had died.  It was a pain arguing with Reliance retail that it was their responsibility to get the headset replaced. I didn’t want to argue with those dolts again.

I was contemplating buying a new Bose headset or a Samsung Active but suddenly on a footpath I saw a person selling A copy of Sony headset ( An A copy is a Chinese term which represents that the counterfeit item has same BoM as the original product).  I tried that headset but again the sound on left ear was low. He offered to let me try the LG one and once again the left sound was low.  The seller guessed that the damage may be in internal socket of my iPhone but I disagreed. The socket damage won’t affect the Bluetooth headsets.

 

I was sure by now that this was the speaker balance system problem. I came back and checked my iPhone settings.  I went to sound settings and saw nothing which could tell me how to fix left and right balance problem.

SoundSettings

  I concluded that there was no balance setting and was wondering how to fix this problem. I tried almost all other settings tabs and found it nowhere.

 

This was the time, I shared this problem with my wife.  She being an avid programmer asked me whether I googled this problem.  I said, “NO! Why for such simple stupid things I should Google”. She nevertheless did and told me that this setting exists deep down in the “ACCESSIBILITY” settings tab. I exclaimed #WTF, why on earth will any designer or an Information Architect burry a simple Left –right sound balance deep under accessibility?  To my dismay it was there.  It’s one of the biggest usability and IA blunder from Apple.

Accessibility L R

Why do I think Apple made avoidable blunder?

 

Let’s look at the stated goals of Information Architecture   by its world body:

A good IA helps people to understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for – in the real world as well as online

Source: http://www.iainstitute.org/what-is-ia

 

This is where the designers at Apple failed.

 

What could they have done differently?

 

Use Information Architecture synthesis technique like card sorting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_sorting ). With this they could have figured out where most humans would look for when they try to adjust the left –right settings. The most appropriate method for this could have been closed cart sorting as top level grouping for this already is Setting > Sound

What could we as individuals learn from Apple’s blunder?

 

The decisions like navigation and placement of important control should not be left to the gut feel of inarticulate designers. There are proper techniques to make such decisions which make the OS or application more usable and intuitive to use.

 

If you are trying to discover where your application sucks in terms of usability or Ux , do get in touch with me.

2 thoughts on “Apple’s usability and information architecture blunders?

  1. Dear Arun,
    It was nice article, but I will disagree with you on the point you have made above. You are just think from normal people point of view. What about people with limitation, the accessibility option is for all those people with certain limitation and tell me why on earth a person with normal hearing fiddle with right and left Balance.
    Hope you agree with me.

    Like

    1. Hey Vishal, Thanks for liking this article. The number of people with hearing imbalance are a minority. Any person with hearing disability will definitely look form balance in “Accessibility” but most of us who are able bodied also need sound balance and we look for that in Sound settings. Most of the audio we hear are stereophonic which means bass/cymbals dominate on one track, left or right and vocals dominate on other. We adjust balance to optimize what we wish to hear most. I do left and right or forward and backward balance in my car depending on who wants to hear the music and at what intensity. The same is with home theater system. All the times you will not be sitting equidistant from left and right speakers and as sound attenuates inversely with square of distance from source, it calls for balance adjustments.

      Like

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