What a difference a slider can make to usability

I was excited today to see that Apple had released the new version of Keynote. An avid user and long time fan, I was looking forward to seeing the new features. So far I’m mostly disappointed, and it’s because of one tiny detail.

There are things that I loved about the whole iWork suite. Small details that made Pages and Keynote stand above the rest. Things that have to do with spacing. Things that are now gone.

This is how you set text spacing in Keynote 6:

Keynote 6

This is how it was done in version 5.3 (iWork 09):

Keynote 5.3

Guess which one is superior?

With the old UI, you could drag until it “looked right.” Now you’re forced to type in or click that tiny arrow button. It seems Apple has downgraded Keynote to a “Microsoft level” of usability. All in what seems to be an attempt to make Keynote less daunting to casual users. Well we got Powerpoint for that. Keynote is was (?) the choice for us who take visual presentations seriously.

It’s amazing what a difference small things can make, and how easily you can screw up if you aren’t in touch with the needs of your users.

Oh, and BTW Apple, can I still add a drop shadow to text inside shapes? If I can, the feature must be mysteriously hidden somewhere. Addendum: I've found it. It's possible. But hidden under the cog wheel button in the Text tab, sub tab Style in the new Inspector

This may seem like a trivial nuisance and to most people, it probably is. But if you spend considerable time using a piece of software, your entire way of working starts reflecting how its built. You learn to work around its quirks and to love its strengths. When it's changed for the worse, it means you work slower and less effectively. I hope more people react and that Apple value their customers enough to fix it.

Damn, I want the old inspector floating toolbar back.

This article was updated on 2020-03-01

Jakob Persson

Your host. A founder and entrepreneur since 20 years. Having worked as a freelancer, consultant and co-founder of a successful digital agency has shaped his skills in and insights into business. Jakob blogs at blog.bondsai.io, speaks at events and consults with agencies and freelancers in growing and developing their companies. He holds degrees in media technology and cognitive science.