What it is: Apple focuses on making all of their products accessible to everyone including blind and disabled people.
There’s an art to user interface design. First, the user interface must make tasks easy to accomplish. Second, user interfaces must be as intuitive as possible. Most companies fail at the first task by making user interfaces that aren’t easy to use at all. Then they often fail to make user interfaces intuitive, forcing people to go through training classes just to do something that should be simple.
However, where most companies completely goo wrong is that their user interfaces aren’t accessible to people with hearing, sight, or physical disabilities. That often means buying expensive or clumsy software or hardware as add-ons to make a device work properly for different people. That’s why Apple takes time to design user interfaces that work for everyone, including people with limited physical capabilities. The sign of a good user interface is one that can work for everyone.
User interfaces are going to move beyond sight and sound. With wearable computers like the Apple Watch, touch is now becoming a way to get feedback. When following directions, many blind people can use the Apple Watch to give them taps on the wrist so they know when to turn left or right.
Instead of using clumsy buttons or keyboards, physically disabled people can use voice commands to accomplish tasks using Siri. By allowing screen magnification, Apple products can give sight impaired people a way to use devices without buying additional software or hardware.
Companies shouldn’t think of accessibility as something to add on to a product. Instead, companies should focus on accessibility from the start. If a blind or deaf person can use a product easily, then people without similar hearing or vision impairments will have no problems either. Good user interface design is intuitive and easy to use for everyone.
Designing good user interfaces isn’t easy, but it’s more important than just shoving a fast processor into a new product and calling that innovation. Technology must always offer a clear benefit. A fast processor may offer increased processing speed, but if that faster processing speed doesn’t translate into a difference for the user, that fast processor is essentially useless.
Given a choice between superior technology that’s hard to use or that doesn’t offer any useful features, or less advanced technology that’s easy to use and offers useful features, it’s easy to understand why Apple products tend to be one generation behind rivals in technology. The simple fact is that advanced technology for its own sake means nothing unless it improves the user’s experience.
User interfaces and accessibility are what separates Apple from rival products. It’s easy to copy the outside appearance of an Apple product, but it’s much harder to duplicate the user interface so it works seamlessly for everyone. Not everyone may want to buy and use an Apple product, but Apple’s devotion to user interface design has improved the quality of products for everyone.