Steve Jobs was right (mostly) but every once in a while – stubborn.

He and (his road trip buddy) Jon Ive have shaped and paradigm shifted the crap out of the computer experience sphere. From the iMac to the iPod, from Siri to iCloud. They have put the user first.

And it is because they create such glorious user experiences that I can’t understand their total lack of experience for users’ when it comes to input devices. I speak directly about the mice that Apple has produced since the puck (c. 1998) and the iPad.

Of mice and Jobs

The history of the Apple mouse (or mouse like parts) from 1998 – Puck, Orb, Orb (with micro ball), Wireless touch and Trackpad. All of this to avoid (for whatever reason) a mouse with actual 2-buttons. And the micro ball to try and be a mouse on a mouse (instead of a scroll wheel). I believe that Mr. Jobs had such anger for all things MicroSoft (or PC) that his refusal to even consider these options has kept me from using any of the above mentioned Apple products. I have proudly used various MS mice over that 15 year period. Both wired and wireless (my preference is wired).

I like the fact that it has two buttons – plus a scroll wheel (which is also a button) and two alternative buttons (any of which) can be programmed via software in the system preferences. I find the functionality of the mice to be far superior to that of Apple and the ergonomics kick Apples’ products (which hurts a little to type out loud).

A fist full of stylus’

The main thinking that gave us the touch mouse and trackpad is front and centre in the iPad. In the Jobs biography, Walter Isaacson indicates that Steve felt that no stylus was needed for the iPad – people have five stylus on each hand. Here, fundamentally is where these products fail.

If, in the history of creating artifacts, we only accepted what our bare hands could achieve – we would be living in a world not unlike the sets from the original Planet of the Apes. One of the things that makes us (humans) us, is our ability to leverage tools into more tools. It is precisely this standing-on-giants-shoulders that allows us to move forward – bigger – smaller – faster.

If Steve was correct that we each have up to ten stylus available for the iPad (and other devices) – then that should show in other areas. For instance, art galleries would be filled with finger paintings! But they are not. It’s not that a finger painting can’t be good, it’s just very limiting.

How do you feel about these Apple input devices?


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