Apple messes up on user experience

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Apple prides itself on its attention to detail in the user experience from its packaging and industrial design to the minutae of software user experience. With the launch of the webmail access under the MobileMe banner, that attention to quality was lacking. I don’t mean that in a small way, but in a big way; whoever put it together has no class.

In fact I wanted to give myself at least a days distance from the experience to allow some of my initial fury over the whole sorry experience to die down.  Allowing me to try and replace venom with at least some objectivity in writing this post.

I have been a .mac user since my migration to Mac OS X back in 2001, its combination of IMAP, easy web access and ease-of-use with my different devices (currently an Apple MacBook Pro and a Nokia E90) and random internet terminals has proven invaluable.

Despite my wireless on the go access through my smartphone, it is usually quite handy to clear a lot of the dross out of my account over a lunch sandwich using the web access.

Today I tried to sign in the morning to check some of my email newsletters. Using Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 on one machine. I got through to a splash screen that said MobileMe didn’t support the browser and that it would not be able to use some of the features of the service.

I went back to my desk and used the latest version of Firefox to see if that would work any better. Logging on to the site took forever and then I was forced to watch promotional videos but couldn’t get to my mail. I couldn’t scroll up or down to find the button that would allow me to bypass the videos because it wasn’t rendered on the screen! After several more tries, most of the time the site was unavailable I went back to the unsupported Internet Explorer 7 browser and found the bypass button displayed.

The web interface was still slow and unresponsive, I worked on some products that were dogs during my time at Yahoo!, but never have I had the displeasure of using something quite as bad as this. It looks like in the rush to get the new iPhone out the door, standards slipped.