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Open Letter to Tim Cook: 4 Simple Usability Asks for Apple 2022

Dear Tim Cook: Just a quick note from some of us who conduct science-based usability research. We would like you to consider fixing a few small usability problems with Apple products because, after all, Apple does make the greatest tech around, but we keep wondering how such wonderful products end up in the hands of consumers with usability problems from the 1950s??

Ask 1: Stop Using 6pt Type Fonts in Apple Instructional Inserts: Yup, it is true a major portion of your user base cannot read the text in your instructional inserts without a magnifying glass. Ok…we agree this is a product opportunity for an Apple Monocle, but amping up the text size has less market risk.
Ask 2: Stop Packaging Apple Tech With Materials/Designs That Have a Half-Life Extending Into The Next Century: We get the packaging and BRAND FORMATION thing. But really, isn’t it time Apple realized that the Apple “UNBOXING” experience has been overtaken by environmental engineering and circular design. Just saying… you have great products, but increasingly ridiculous backward-looking packaging, even if your packaging is technically “On Brand”.
Ask 3: Stop Thinking Apple Products Are Totally Self-Evident, Because…Well, They Are Not:  Ok, we get the strategy of making the initial use of Apple products as self-evident as possible. The science of skill acquisition is clear on this idea. However, what about the second layer of Apple functionality that is mostly abysmal in terms of usability? For example, try using an Apple Calendar in a small business without a lot of missed meetings…not happening. The point simply is why not pour some of your billions in cash into improving the TOTAL User Experience (TUX), instead of stopping after the first 12 minutes of engagement? Asking Apple customers to interact with totally wacky tech experts on YouTube in order to gain access to deeper functions is…well, antediluvian. Why drive a billion dollars in ad revenue to Google?… That’s a lot of iPads!
Ask 4: Now For The Truly BIG Ask: Tim, there was a time in the history of Apple when products arrived with a truly amazing innovation known in some circles as an “Instruction Manual”. Today, such a thing is known technically as an “IFU” or Instructions for Use. Everybody who buys your great stuff knows that none of it is totally self-evident and, frankly, it never was. Such a goal of self-evident simplicity is impossible and increasingly wrong-headed development thinking. So, hey…start slow. Limit your IFUs to 4-5 core functions or perhaps 25 pages. For sure you have a ton of smart human factors folks running around who can help Apple design and engineering with IFU dev. and cognitive task analysis. Also, please do not forget our ASK 1…please make the fonts large enough to read.


Charles L. Mauro CHFP President / Founder (1975-Present)

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