A little UX rant

Here’s a little user experience (UX) rant relating to landscape mode on tablet devices, particularly iPads.

Landscape mode is the default mode for my iPad use, and always has been, even more so since earlier this year I purchased a Logitech keyboard case for it. (By the way, this keyboard is ridiculously expensive but based on how it’s transformed my use of the device, it’s worth every penny. I bought it ahead of my trip to Glasgow, Scotland, thinking to use the iPad as a laptop replacement. Even though my work laptop is a MacBook Air, it is still too bulky and heavy for a long trip, and computers are treated differently in security queues than tablet devices. The iPad plus keyboard was perfect for trip and conference use with great battery life.)

So then the rant is about so-called universal iOS apps that do not account for or accommodate landscape mode. They were clearly originally designed for the iPhone with iPad use a secondary add on. One of the worst offenders, when I still used the service, was Instagram, although actually they refused to create a native iPad app at all, forcing iPad users to install the iPhone version. I still consider that one of the stupidest decisions I can think of in terms of serving tablet users. Another recent example is the Naxos Music Library app. Although there is a “native” iPad version, it only works in portrait mode; there’s no option to view the app in landscape mode. That’s incredibly irritating from a UX perspective.

But by far the worst offender is in the latest iOS, ver. 12, in which the Apple News app, when viewed in landscape mode, now forces on the user a display of news channels on the left hand side of the interface (see screenshot below). This is something new and different from how previous iterations of the app worked, and it is terrible, especially because Apple designed this change so that there is no way for the user to change that default landscape display to exclude the list of new channels on the side. This forces the user to give up about a quarter of the visual display for perusing news stories, a big deal when using a mobile device where screen real estate is at a premium. Only if/when the user has the iPad in portrait mode will the news channels disappear from the interface.

As a result of this design decision, I no longer use the Apple News app as much; I avoid it. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why someone thought this was a good idea. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Ok, rant over.

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