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user interface (UI) issues

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I have been using Dark Mode for several months but switched back to Light Mode after reading Adam's article, and, generally, I'm happy either way. The exception is programming in Xcode. I have defective colour vision, and syntax colouring works far better for me in Dark Mode than in Light Mode. I suspect that the contrast of dark text on light background neutralises the difference between the colours more than light colours on dark background. I've experimented with various themes, and will continue to do so, but the dark background seems easier to pick out the colours for me.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I suspect that the contrast of dark text on light background neutralises the difference between the colours more than light colours on dark background. I've experimented with various themes, and will continue to do so, but the dark background seems easier to pick out the colours for me.
There are millions of different variations possible in a design, and you could probably get as good a result from a light design as a dark one, depending on the details.

(There are several different light and dark styles/themes available here in this forum, although the default black-on-white one is recommended, fully supported, and optimal for most situations, but I'm always interested in feedback about them.)
 


... I have defective colour vision, and syntax colouring works far better for me in Dark Mode than in Light Mode....
There are millions of different variations possible in a design, and you could probably get as good a result from a light design as a dark one, depending on the details....
After some experimentation, utilising the semibold and bold weights makes the colours visible for me. I guess it goes back to the absurdly thin fonts that Apple chooses to use...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
After some experimentation, utilising the semibold and bold weights makes the colours visible for me. I guess it goes back to the absurdly thin fonts that Apple chooses to use...
That makes sense to me — when experimenting with alternate styles for this forum, I found that dark modes needed bolder text vs. light modes. (One would think that the high-design team at Apple would recognize and respond to issues like that....)
 


My aging eyes have floaters, and I find them more noticeable and annoying when reading on a white screen with black type than when reading on paper. After cataract surgery, I turned down screen brightness to make reading easier.
That makes sense to me — when experimenting with alternate styles for this forum, I found that dark modes needed bolder text vs. light modes.
I have not tried dark mode on screen, but I find it hard to read white type on black printed pages unless the white type is bold. I suspect we could learn some interesting things about human vision and how to optimize the presentation of type if someone systematically studied the reactions of people with different visual flaws under different situations. But I doubt anybody promoting the advantages of dark mode has done such research.
 


My aging eyes have floaters, and I find them more noticeable and annoying when reading on a white screen with black type than when reading on paper ... I find it hard to read white type on black printed pages unless the white type is bold.
I'm currently on a Linux Mint NUC connected to a 43" Sony 4K TV as a primary monitor (set at 1920 x 1080) and an Asus WQHD 27" rotated 90 degrees (1680 x 1050). I'm using as much dark theme as I can. My work G Suite Gmail is themed in Chrome with a black background and bold white text. And that's fine. Unfortunately, when an email opens, it opens bright white with black text. It's rather like opening the blinds in a darkened room and looking into the sunshine.

I'm still able to see Apple desktops on large monitors, and when Yosemite arrived I replaced the narrower, maybe greyer, UI font. But like everything else where I've tried to modify Apple's UI and / or software to my preferences and to accommodate my vision, every Apple update seems to wipe out the changes I made, and I just gave up trying.
 


(One would think that the high-design team at Apple would recognize and respond to issues like that....)
I'm guessing the "high-design team" at Apple is comprised of people under the age of 40 (maybe even younger?), who have not yet experienced the vision challenges they will have themselves in a few years.

However, I want to strongly appreciate the tremendous steps Apple has taken - and is taking again in Catalina - to help with "accessibility" issues. They've really done a lot. The control toggles for all those options have become almost daunting, but they do address a lot of accessibility issues.

I feel other developers of apps don't pay enough attention to these issues. I use apps with ridiculous light-gray-thin-tiny-non-adjustable-font-on-white, or light-green-thin-tiny-non-adjustable-font-on-white for menu controls and text which make using them difficult. (Wyze and Evernote are just a couple of examples, but there are lots more.)
 


If you want to truly see how Apple feels about their customers' eyesight, all you have to do is look at the back of any iDevice or Mac product and, without using a loupe or reading glasses, please read off the Serial Number or the Model Number of said product. It is an exercise in futility. It is the same reason that, as soon I receive and unpackage an Apple product, I make a photocopy of all the bar codes etc. on the box's identifying product label, making sure to enlarge the copy to 200%, for future reference. Please don't just automatically roll over and give Apple and Jony Ive et al accolades for improvement in "accessibility," when you can't even read off a serial number of an Apple product on its casing.
 


I'm no typographer, but the references I consulted, back when the Mac Plus and SE were what I got to use, all said to use bold type with white-on-black text. So it's not just old and feeble eyes which have trouble with it.
 


Kind of off on a tangent here but the comment about reading the model/serial number on an Apple product reminded me of my recent visit to the Genius Bar to deal with a stolen battery on an iPhone 6. The Genius needed to read the back of the iPhone and used the Magnifier feature on his own iDevice. You can find it in Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier.
 



"Dark Mode"? Jeez, I remember one of the big deals about the 1984 Macintosh (via Lisa) was that it put black print/images on a white background to make it more "natural" (i.e., print on paper). That was a reversal from the white (or green) on black (or amber) monitors that personal computer users inherited from the mainframe world. Sigh. "The more things change...."
 



"Dark Mode"? Jeez, I remember one of the big deals about the 1984 Macintosh (via Lisa) was that it put black print/images on a white background to make it more "natural" (i.e., print on paper). That was a reversal from the white (or green) on black (or amber) monitors that personal computer users inherited from the mainframe world. Sigh. "The more things change...."
I looked through a lot of website pages about the original 1984 MacIntosh and selected this one, as it seems to depict the computer I remember trying out at a long-defunct computer chain store:
Steve's Old Computer Museum said:
Macintosh -1984
9-inch monochrome screen
512x 342 pixels
What's really different now is that the screens most of us use, even on laptops, are far bigger and brighter than the original Mac's. We recently upgraded our office lighting, replacing fluorescents with LEDs. Without dark mode, the two LED-lit monitors on my desktop grow all but painful over a workday. I've tried turning their brightness levels down, but that doesn't work as well as dark mode.
 


I looked through a lot of website pages about the original 1984 MacIntosh and selected this one, as it seems to depict the computer I remember trying out at a long-defunct computer chain store:
What's really different now is that the screens most of us use, even on laptops, are far bigger and brighter than the original Mac's. We recently upgraded our office lighting, replacing fluorescents with LEDs. Without dark mode, the two LED-lit monitors on my desktop grow all but painful over a workday. I've tried turning their brightness levels down, but that doesn't work as well as dark mode.
It looks like programmers (or developers) today seem to prefer dark interfaces. I have no idea why, as I agree that those are much harder to read, and a strain on the eyes. Maybe that's just a geeky preference today. Has anyone else noticed this?
 


I have been noticing some weird inconveniences across various Apple touch-sensitive interfaces...
• iPhone: I notice, hours later, that a text has not been issued... even when I heard the swoosh upon tapping the little blue arrow.​
• iPad Mini 4: a number of apps will require me to engage in a gesture three times before the action takes hold — for example, swiping the track progress bar on a music track in the Aurender app, I have to press and swipe the button three times.​
before the action is engaged.​
• MacBook Pro 2015 and 2017 trackpads: I have to tap the full-screen option arrows three times at various movie streaming sites before the action will engage. (I have not yet tested this symptom with a mouse, but I guess that might be interesting.)​

Is this some form of "genius" gesture-hesitancy-security-measure? Like... "Are you really, really, really sure you want to do that"?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I have been noticing some weird inconveniences across various Apple touch-sensitive interfaces... Is this some form of "genius" gesture-hesitancy-security-measure? Like... "Are you really, really, really sure you want to do that"?
I experience similar issues and witness others struggling with them. Things you can try:
  • If you're using a screen protector, try removing it.
  • Make sure the surface is clean, maybe wiping with alcohol
  • Apple uses time-delay interface modes* (which I have always found frustrating and confusing with any device, from any company). Try pressing a bit longer.
  • You can fine-tune some responses in System Preferences or Settings.
  • Anything involving the Web/Internet may suffer from
    • server delays
    • network delays
    • bad programming
Some random related material:

* As a prime example, Apple uses time-based modes that produce different results depending on whether you use a "short" press vs. a "long press"....
 


Make sure the surface is clean, maybe wiping with alcohol
Google will reveal conflicting references - some say alcohol is okay, others suggest it will remove the oleophobic coating which resists fingerprints and smudges.

I use liquid camera lens solution and a micro-fiber cloth.

FYI: The surgical ICU staff caring for my wife told us we could visit, though garbed in "clean suits" and only if we didn't take out our phones, because they're vectors of infection.
 



"Apple Watch Series 5 requires an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 13 or later" is stated at the very bottom in a tiny dark grey font on a medium grey background!
I'm beginning to think that those in charge of legibility and communication at Apple are Douglas Adams fans:

"But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'"
 



"Apple Watch Series 5 requires an iPhone 6s or later with iOS 13 or later" is stated at the very bottom in a tiny dark grey font on a medium grey background!
Apple: "We're all about accessibility!*

* "except if you're older and trying to purchase anything from us"
Here's my recent favorite: a progress gauge consisting of a 1-point black line that is slowly converted into a dark blue 1-point black line. (Yes, I put a type-setting gauge on the line).

#appleui #userinterface #appledesign
 


Here's my recent favorite: a progress gauge consisting of a 1-point black line that is slowly converted into a dark blue 1-point black line.
Mea culpa, I posted without my notes at hand (and just remeasured to verify my notes) – it was a half-point line. :-}
Sigh, user interfaces are supposed to be obvious, not minimalist, avant-garde art statements.
 


Mea culpa, I posted without my notes at hand (and just remeasured to verify my notes) – it was a half-point line. :-}
Sigh, user interfaces are supposed to be obvious, not minimalist, avant-garde art statements.
You've been Jony'd! I think this should be the new phrase for anything that is minimalist or thinner which also results in a usability miss.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I saw this interesting report on dark vs. light modes mentioned at tidbits.com:
Nielsen Norman Group said:
Dark Mode vs. Light Mode: Which Is Better?
Summary: In people with normal vision (or corrected-to-normal vision), visual performance tends to be better with light mode, whereas some people with cataract and related disorders may perform better with dark mode. On the flip side, long-term reading in light mode may be associated with myopia.
 


I saw this interesting report on dark vs. light modes mentioned at tidbits.com:
I've been a big fan of Nielsen Norman Group articles for many years. This article was another worthwhile read.

I've long pondered the affinity that so many developers seem to have for dark mode, especially given the amount of research that suggests the superiority of light mode for most purposes. Michael Tsai made an extremely insightful comment recently:
Michael Tsai said:
The Dark Side of Dark Mode and Night Shift
I haven’t personally found any use for Dark Mode on my Mac. I don’t like the way it looks, and it feels like it slows me down. I have always preferred light text on a dark background for code, though. My sense is that this is not because I like light-on-dark better than dark-on-light for the primary text, but rather because most of the other colors work better on a dark background. With multi-color themes, the secondary colors tend to be easier to see on a dark background.
I strongly prefer light mode for just about everything, but my Terminal apps are set to use green or cyan text on black backgrounds, and I do like working with code using color-based syntax highlighting in dark mode.

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of research on dark mode vs light mode usability does not consider the syntax highlighting use case. It seems like a worthy subject for the future attention of researchers.
 


I think a lot of it depends on your preferred ambient lighting.

In an office environment, where the room is brightly lit, a light background works best. Your eyes don't do nearly as much adjusting when shifting between the screen and everything else you look at.

But when working in a dark room - as seems to be common for gamers, hackers and a not-insignificant number of photo/video editors - then the opposite becomes true. A dark background will keep your eyes from massive adjustments when you shift between the screen and the rest of the room.

As for terminal-based applications, it appears that the default colors for quite a lot of popular apps/shells were defined back in the day of physical terminals (which typically had black backgrounds) or DOS-based terminal emulators (which also defaulted to black backgrounds). So the chosen colors were ones that look good against a black background.

But when those apps are run in a terminal with a white background, many of those colors (e.g. cyan and yellow) end up almost unreadable. In some cases, you can configure your terminal and apps for alternate color palettes, but in some cases you're just out of luck.
 


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