I often hear people saying "apple has pushed forward the development of usable interfaces", "apple products are examples for great usability" and so on. My question is: is this a proven fact? And if so, can you tell me at least one distinguishing design concept used in iOS or OS X that justifies such statements?
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Historically, Apple (or rather, Jobs) has pushed the company towards selling user experience as a whole, rather than piecemeal as separate hardware and software. This has been especially true over the past decade or so where Jobs gave Jonathan Ive considerable power within the company to push their industrial design forward.
It's not always been a perfect marriage of hardware, software and users but if you judge the company based on success, I guess they've done OK.
Broadly speaking, things that Apple has pushed into the mainstream from a 'usable interface' point of view:
- the GUI
- the mouse
- WYSIWYG print layout
- handheld computing
- touch UIs
And the list could go on. None of these are necessarily things Apple invented, but rather these are things Apple polished, packaged, and made appealing to a (relatively) broad audience.
In the end, is that Apple's doing or Steve Jobs? I don't know. It is known that Steve Jobs was a rather picky CEO who had veto power over nearly every decision within the organization. Jeff Bezos has a similar reputation. Based solely on the success of each of those companies, maybe that's a good strategy (that being having a strong leader who is focused strongly on user experience).