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By Jason Snell for Macworld
Apple’s war on buttons: What’s next on the chopping block?
Keep it simple. That’s been Apple’s design philosophy for ages. Whether it’s buttons or ports, the history of modern Apple design makes it clear that Apple is a company that looks at every product and asks, “Could there be less stuff on this thing?”
When Steve Jobs announced the original Apple Remote, he displayed a slide comparing it to two typical TV remotes—one with 43 buttons and the other with 45. In contrast, the Apple Remote had six. The third-generation iPod Shuffle was designed with no buttons at all, an extreme decision that led to a rare flip-flop on Apple’s part—the next generation of the Shuffle reverted to the previous design, which offered playback controls.
The most recent examples of Apple’s minimalist philosophy—it’s become a running joke to call this “Apple’s war on buttons—are the MacBook and the iPhone 7. The MacBook, introduced in 2015, offered a single USB-C port and a headphone jack, and that was it. And of course, the iPhone 7 lacks a headphone jack, making it simpler still.
The trend is clear and consistent: Those familiar things you’ve got on the outside of your Apple products are coming off. Or at least, some of them are, if Apple can figure out a way to do it with minimal fuss and loss of functionality. With the headphone jack cleared away, then, it’s worth considering what’s left—and what’s next to go.