two examples of bad app design

This is a continuation of my last post about how I was “feeling” about Apple. This drills down into two applications I depend on a lot, Apple Maps and Google Maps.

I configured my iPhone for Dark mode (Settings | Display & Brightness) when it was first released with iOS 13 and I’ve kept it enabled since. There’s an Automatic switch setting which I have turned off, thus it’s always in Dark mode. And that, it turns out, is a problem with Apple Maps. It follows the same setting as iOS overall. It’s readable in any light except out doors in the bright Florida sun. Here’s what it looks like with Dark mode enabled.

Looks kind of hip for all of five minutes, until I have to look up something while out of my vehicle and in the sunlight. Then the map almost totally disappears. My first reaction was to try to turn off Dark mode just for Apple Maps. You can’t do that because the Apple software geniuses made the decision not to add it because they probably thought you would never need to do that. I beg to differ on that. But anyway, I decided to install Google Maps and work with that. That was a mistake, and here’s an example to illustrate why.

It’s bright and readable, and it’s covered with crap. What kind of crap, you ask? Why those lovely category buttons at the top underneath search and the option selections running along the bottom. Guess what? You can’t turn those off either. Since plan ‘A’ wasn’t working, I went back to Google to search for a plan ‘B’. And I didn’t like what I found there. One suggestion in one of the forums was to go to the Control Center (Settings | Control Center) and add a Dark Mode button. The reasoning being that when you wanted to see the map in light mode, you’d pull down the Control Center and hit the Dark Mode toggle button. And that, unfortunately for me, is what I’ve done. For example:

The Dark Mode toggle button is the very right lower corner, and Dark Mode is active. When inactive the button goes black. This is of course how Apple Maps looks in non-Dark Mode. To be honest it’s a bit washed out in illustrating secondary roads. I’m just glad that more of the map surface is given to the map, and not to extraneous buttons and non-critical illustrations.

This work-around reminds me of what I had to do to add autodial back onto my iPhone. The only reason I continue to use Apple Maps is because its interface is much cleaner than Google’s. I don’t know how long that will last.

The principal of least astonishment states that a user interface should behave in a way that most users will expect it to behave. In this case I expected to find a control (a toggle) in Maps Settings (the circled ‘i’ in the upper right corner) to enable or disable it. Having to add a toggle to Control Center to turn off the iPhone’s Dark Mode just to turn it off for Apple Maps is, as they say, quite astonishing.

a time of pain and healing

ORMC North Towers, where my wife is currently recovering

My wife had a rather serious back operation last Thursday. She and her surgeon spent over five hours working to clean up all the damage due to psoriatic arthritis around her back and spine. In addition, the surgeon implanted a new pain-control system to replace one manufactured by Medtronics, and which, as far as I’m concerned, has been pure junk. My wife believed that this operation would be like her others, that’s she’d be out in two, three days tops. But because of all the work the current surgeon had to do, she’ll be in the hospital a good week before she’s discharged.

The south side where the operation took place.

The first day she was in, the day of the surgery, was a very long day that spanned from 4am until she was moved into her room at 7:30 pm. Over five hours in surgery, another five in recovery. She checked in at 5:30am, and the operation started three hours later. A long tough day for both of us, far tougher for her being under the knife. But she is recovering, and her voice is getting stronger every day. Tonight she was back to her usual tone. But she’s still got a ways to go yet . She hasn’t even started any in-hospital physical therapy.

All of this time gives me time to clean and clear out as much space as possible around the house for when I bring her home. I can’t wait to bring her home.

Interesting Event

While I was there visiting yesterday evening I witnessed what appeared to be a get-together of some sort. I didn’t stop to ask as I didn’t want to intrude, but I did grab a quick photo.


If you’re curious the flag itself was black and white, not red, white and blue. I believe the hashtag refers to the Austin Strong Foundation ( ). I photographed this late afternoon. When I left to go home two hours later, it was dark. And the entire street was filled with what looked like big-rig tow trucks, with all their yellow lights on. Again, I don’t know what it was all about, right there. But I can guess.

The Cameras I’m Using

Once again I used my iPhone 11 Pro Max. I did have my Olympus E-M1.2 with the 12-40mm PRO, but the hospital won’t let me bring it in, and so I left it concealed in my car. I’m also continuing my conversion of the photos I take into black and white using Snapseed. In Snapseed I use a bit of HDR to flatten the exposure range a bit and bring up detail in both shadows and highlights. I then use the B&W tool to increase brightness a bit as well as add a bit of contrast.

I am, at best, an enthusiast. Unfortunately camera equipment has gotten so expensive that I will never be able to afford any of the latest releases from any manufacturer. It’s no accident I waited until just recently to purchase my E-M1.2 for $850. To me that’s still a lot of money, but far less than the original $2,000 introductory price five years ago. It’s a great camera, and the lenses I have for it range from great to incredible (again, all purchased on sale). But the camera on my iPhone 11 is no slouch in the right kind of light. Florida can provide an awful lot of good light, which makes for great photo opportunities. And while I like out-of-focus areas in my photos from time to time, I’m more interested in documenting the story. Either camera (iPhone and Olympus) is quite capable of that.

Unfortunately the writing is on the wall. The camera companies are building and selling new cameras that only the very well heeled can afford. These stratospheric prices are going to drive the rest of us to our smart phone cameras, and those cameras are more than capable of giving excellent results for a fraction of the price.