Inconsistencies in the Apple Ecosystem

Apple prides itself on producing a seamless ecosystem of devices. Jony Ive, the design lead at Apple, sticks to particular design when it comes to products, which demonstrates the resonance of this ecosystem: the design of one apple product complements the next. This is why your gold Macbook matches your gold iPhone, and why OSX El Capitan matches iOS 9 so well. Every product is designed with the entire ecosystem in mind.

An interesting design decision was made to develop the “MagSafe” charging port, which relies on a series of proprietary magnetically attached power connecters while charging, so that anyone who trips over the charger won’t break the power connector or pull the computer from a surface. It also includes an LED light that glows amber to indicate when it is charging and a green light to indicate when the computer is at full charge. This is known as a “visibility of system status”, which conveniently lets the user know about an out of sight process. Interestingly enough, this method wasn’t carried over to another close accessory of the computer: the wireless mouse.


The mouse contains a LED light underneath to indicate connection – solid green if connected, flashing green if connected. However, the user has no indication of the battery level, which is a violation of a visible status of a system. While a Macbook’s battery level is conveniently displayed on the charger, the battery level of the apple mouse is shown in the Operating System of the computer. You have to use another device to check the battery level of the mouse.

The efficiency of these systems become a more important topic as IoT becomes more integrated in technology. The visibility of system status could be bolstered by a new design method. The mouse would still have an LED light on the bottom, one that would still flash while connecting and remain solid while connected, but would use green, orange, and red LED lights to indicate the battery level. That is, if your mouse has 50% battery, it would flash orange while connecting, and remain orange while connected. Each color would have the same behavior.


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