Apple is world-famous for its design success tales, from the iMac G3 to all one of the best iPhones. However issues don’t all the time go in response to plan, even for probably the most design-savvy tech agency on the planet.

No, Apple has had its justifiable share of design howlers over time. Right here, we’ve rounded up eight of probably the most egregious design sins Apple has ever dedicated. It’s a great reminder that nobody is above dropping just a few absolute clunkers — even Apple.

The butterfly keyboard

For a few years, Apple exalted the idea of “skinny and lightweight” above seemingly all else. Within the quest to strip again its designs to their purest essence, not even the keyboard might escape the steely gaze of Jony Ive and his fellow Apple designers.

The end result was the butterfly keyboard, first debuted on 2015’s 12-inch MacBook. As an alternative of the standard scissor change mechanism beneath every key, this keyboard bore a brand new design that was a lot thinner and permitted far much less key journey than earlier than. Certain, it allowed the laptop computer to be nearly impossibly skinny, but it surely got here at the price of horrible reliability (and loads of lawsuits filed towards Apple).

Even the smallest crumb might jam up your keys and render them fickle and erratic. And with nearly no key journey, typing on the keyboard felt such as you have been tapping a stable, immovable floor, which made errors more and more widespread. Apple lastly ditched the butterfly keyboard in 2019 and hasn’t seemed again since.

Magic Mouse 2

I mounted Apple’s greatest design flaw..type of.

The butterfly keyboard may need been deserted, however this subsequent design fail — the Magic Mouse 2 — remains to be with us. Purchase a Magic Mouse 2 right now and also you’ll see it’s an actual ache — fairly actually.

For one factor, its low-profile form may cause discomfort with extended use. I do know not less than one one that needed to change to a unique mouse after it prompted them extreme wrist ache. Certain, its assist for multitouch gestures is nice, however is that well worth the doable carpal tunnel syndrome?

That’s not the one downside. Probably the most meme-worthy side of the Magic Mouse 2 is the way in which it prices, as Apple bafflingly situated the charging port on the underside of the machine. Meaning you’ll be able to’t use it and cost it on the identical time,  and as a substitute have to position it on its again like a rodent enjoying lifeless. That appears fairly applicable, actually.

The iMac G3’s ‘hockey puck’ mouse

An Apple USB Mouse, known as the "hockey puck" mouse, from the iMac G3. The mouse is sitting on a desk with its USB cable next to it.
Manufacturing unit on Wikipedia

The Magic Mouse 2 wasn’t the primary time Apple bought a mouse badly mistaken. No, over 15 years earlier than the, Apple launched the iMac G3 and its design bomb of a mouse. Whereas the iMac G3 is rightly celebrated as one of many greatest Macs of all time, its mouse will not be remembered anyplace close to as fondly. You actually gained’t discover it on any lists of one of the best mice, that’s for certain.

That’s as a result of it was utterly round (therefore the “hockey puck” nickname). In observe, that meant it was extraordinarily troublesome to orient accurately with out taking your eyes off the display screen and searching down. You’d both maintain it mistaken and never be capable of discover its single button, or should interrupt your work to get it the best approach round. It was disruptive and annoying — hardly the hallmarks of nice design.

The Contact Bar


When Apple launched the redesigned MacBook Professional in 2016, its Contact Bar function was heralded with a lot fanfare by the corporate. This touch-sensitive strip would supply useful app-specific shortcuts everytime you wanted them and would even allow you to rapidly kind emojis into any message. What’s to not love?

Effectively, its shortcomings grew to become obvious over time. Though just a few apps had built-in assist for the Contact Bar from the get-go, many didn’t, and uptake was sluggish. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Contact Bar felt prefer it was stagnating and unable to stay as much as its potential.

What’s extra, it changed the MacBook Professional’s row of bodily perform keys, which have been well liked by many customers. Apple finally reinstated a bodily Escape key in later iterations, however the absence of a correct perform row was keenly felt. Apple righted that mistaken when it dropped the Contact Bar in 2021.

1st-generation Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil
Malarie Gokey/Digital Traits

Don’t get me mistaken, I just like the Apple Pencil. It brings an ideal degree of additional performance to the iPad and feels well-thought-out and well-designed.

In each approach besides one, that’s. You see, the first-generation Apple Pencil got here with a Lightning connector at its prime finish. To cost the machine, you needed to plug it into the iPad’s Lightning port, making your pill seem like some type of weird tech stingray.

Worse, this perplexing association put the Apple Pencil at an enormous threat of snapping if it was knocked whereas charging, as a daunting quantity of strain can be channeled by its Lightning connector. It may need been a advantageous machine, however its peculiar — and dangerous — charging technique was an inescapable design fail. Fortuitously, Apple mounted it within the second-generation mannequin.

The ‘trash can’ Mac Professional

A 2013 Mac Pro is shown emerging out of a shadowy black background.

When Apple’s advertising chief Phil Schiller unveiled the brand new Mac Professional in 2013, he uttered probably the most notorious strains in launch occasion historical past: “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.” The irony is that the design he revealed truly prevented Apple from innovating additional down the highway.

You see, the 2013 Mac Professional (recognized informally because the “trash can” Mac Professional) was a reasonably intelligent machine, with all its parts designed round a cylindrical cooling chamber. It was a marvel of engineering and extremely proprietary. However the issue with proprietary designs is that they’re very troublesome to improve sooner or later.

Apple admitted as a lot in 2017, when an uncharacteristically candid Schiller mentioned the Mac Professional was “constrained thermally,” which “restricted our means to improve it.” In consequence, the 2019 Mac Professional was way more modular. The 2013 mannequin, in the meantime, is a good instance of how a design that wows within the brief time period can result in complications in the long run.

AirPods Max Sensible Case

Apple's AirPods Max headphones inside a blue Smart Case.

The AirPods Max Sensible Case may be probably the most sarcastically named product Apple has ever launched. That’s as a result of it’s barely a case in any respect, and undoubtedly not a wise alternative. Wrap up your AirPods Max contained in the Sensible Case and also you’ll see solely about half the headphones are literally coated. It appears way more like a style accent than a case.

Whereas it’s type of intelligent in that it resembles a purse, that’s undoubtedly not what most individuals need from a headphone case as a result of it gives subsequent to no safety in any respect. For those who have been hoping to maintain your AirPods Max secure from bumps and bruises, you’re out of luck.

Much more annoyingly, utilizing the Sensible Case is the one approach the headphones can enter low-power mode. Ditch the case and it is advisable to wait a few hours for them to close down, and all of the whereas they’re draining the battery.

Type? Verify. Substance? Not a lot.

iPhone Sensible Battery Case

Two Apple iPhones, each inside a Smart Battery Case. One is a white case and the other is a black case.

What’s it with Apple units which have “Sensible” of their identify? Subsequent up is the iPhone’s Sensible Battery Case, which immediately grew to become one thing of a meme due to its weird design.

Whereas Apple’s rivals opted for extra cumbersome charging circumstances, Apple went for a stripped-back look, leaving the battery oddly protruding from the again of your cellphone. Sadly, this design made it seem like the case had swallowed the battery, and that it was able to burst out at any second.

The bulbous design even prompted Tim Cook dinner to step out and defend the case, and that’s by no means a great signal. Fortuitously for him, Apple later ditched the Sensible Battery Case in favor of the MagSafe Battery Pack, which is barely extra elegant (though actually, it’s not that troublesome).

The Newton MessagePad

Apple Newton next to an iPhone
Blake Patterson/Flickr

The iPad has been an enormous success for Apple, but it wouldn’t exist have been it not for the Newton MessagePad. This handheld private digital assistant (PDA) launched in 1993, however was plagued with issues nearly from the start.

The MessagePad — and maybe the world — merely wasn’t prepared when it launched. Its handwriting-recognition software program was so inaccurate that it was even mocked on The Simpsons, but the machine was nonetheless pushed out forward of time, maybe as a result of it was the pet challenge of Apple’s then-CEO John Sculley.

In the end, the MessagePad was an ideal thought designed poorly. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple within the late Nineteen Nineties, he axed the corporate’s complete Newton division. But, with extra mature know-how and some design tweaks (together with dropping the stylus), the MessagePad thought lived on within the type of the iPad.

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