[ Tech Comm ] Apple’s Manuals

Screen Shot 2012-02-05 at 12.44.13 PMThis is what appears at the first page of the user manual of the iPad. The usual minimalistic Apple style: immaculately clean, simple yet strong, nothing excessive.

Or maybe not — especially the last point. What is “For iOS 5.0 Software”? I don’t know. And if I, who has worked in the IT industry for 10+ years and is a proud owner of a MacBook Air, cannot get it, then most users won’t get it either. Maybe Apple had to label the manual clearly so manuals for older versions of the OS won’t slip into the newer models. Whatever the reason is, Apple clearly put it for their own convenience, not that of their customers.

I don’t think a case like this would have happened in their product design. Every single unintuitive element would have been plucked away before we knew. Apparently the manual was left out of the neurotic attentions of the great Steve Jobs (and Jonathan Ive).

Maybe they knew the quality of their manuals was not up to the level of their product design. But does it matter? Manuals exist to explain what the product is about. Apple’s philosophy is to let the products explain themselves. For them, manuals might be the stuff that they keep mainly out of old habits — for the customers.