Former Apple designer responds to Trump’s iPhone critique

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Trump: Not a fan of Apple's decision to ditch the Home button, apparently.
Photo: White House

As an iPhone UI designer, you need to have a thick skin. First, you have to defend your idea internally at Apple. Then members of the public endlessly critique your work upon its release. The one thing you probably don’t expect, though? For the president of the United States to slam your painstaking creation.

That’s exactly what happened to former Apple user interface prototyping team member Linda Dong. In a Sunday tweet, she commented on President Donald Trump’s recent declaration about the iPhone X interface.

Dong joined Apple in May 2009, originally working as a designer. Apple promoted her to senior designer, and she joined the prototyping team in April 2013. In this role, she “created conceptual user interfaces for future hardware and technologies on Apple’s ~10 person prototyping team.” Dong left in April 2015, years before the iPhone X shipped in 2017, but it appears that the swipe-based interface was designed during this time.

Late last week, Trump tweeted that “the button on the iPhone was far better than the swipe.” Trump uses multiple smartphones. He sends his tweets from one iPhone, while voice calls are made from another handset.

Unfortunately, Trump didn’t add any context to explain what upset him about the iPhone interface. Nor did Dong add any more commentary with her thoughts on the situation. Still, that’s got to be a surreal experience!

To swipe or not to swipe?

Some people criticized the removal of the iPhone’s Home button when it happened. Shortly after the iPhone X’s introduction, Fast Company wrote: “You’re looking at a UX disaster, the result of eliminating what is probably the simplest, most intuitive form of navigation ever implemented in consumer electronics: the iPhone’s home button.”

However, since then, most of us became accustomed to the UI change. While I still miss the simplicity of the Home button, I think it was a worthy sacrifice to get the bigger infinite display.

Do you like the swipe-based iPhone interface or do you still hanker after the Home button? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.