Many is the wise person who hath told us that simplicity is a virtue. So much so that it has even led to the evolution of a management principle with an abbreviation of its own – the KISS principle which stands for “Keep it Short and Simple” or “Keep it Simple, Stupid” depending on how profane one’s interpretations are. The principle might be attributed to aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson, but if there is a company that has thrived on its adherence to simplicity, it is Apple. Ken Segal even wrote a book on it “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success” a few years ago. And indeed whenever the company releases a product or a campaign, simplicity is one of the principles to which tribute is paid. In fact, many believe that Steve Jobs’ biggest asset was his ability to simplify technology so much as to make it understandable even to the mainstream consumer.
So well, when Apple came out with its How to Shoot on iPhone 7 video tutorials a few days ago, the last thing we expected was complexity. And we were not disappointed. The section on the Apple site featured sixteen short, crisp videos (the longest is a mere 45 seconds) that were incredibly easy and simple to follow. There was no voice over, minimum text and everything was explained in a few easy steps.
Well, actually, a little TOO simple in some places, we suspect. And a tad superfluous at others.
Don’t get me wrong here – we are not saying we do not like the implementation and presentation of the whole concept. Only that some of the tutorials frankly seem unnecessary given how wonderfully simply the camera interface of the iPhone is – how to shoot a one-handed selfie (most people are already doing that), how to shoot a great portrait mode (portrait mode pretty much walks us through that anyway), and how to shoot a vertical pano (again, a mode which comes with on-screen instructions).
To be fair, there are tutorials that address more complex issues. But – oh, the irony – they are undone because they are handled too simply. That sounds unbelievable? Well, let’s take the case of “How to Shoot a Bold and Simple Image”:
“Step 1: Find colors that create contrast
Step 2: Simplify your shot
Step 3: Look for symmetry
Step 4: Experiment with exposure
Each of these steps is accompanied by a few seconds of video attempting to illustrate them. The problem is that we think steps like “simplify your shot” and “look for symmetry” are, well, just too vague when expressed THIS simply. A little bit of elaboration would not have heard. And to be honest, we are not sure too many people understand what “exposure” means, although Apple has made it as simple as moving your finger up and down a bar (even saying “adjust the exposure bar” would have made more sense, we think).
Think we are being harsh? All right, let’s try another one that really interested us: How to shoot a unique angle:
“Choose your subject
Try tilting your camera
Try looking straight up
Try getting down low
Basically this is “move your camera around and hope for the best,” which is not what you really expect from a tutorial, and certainly not from the company that gave us arguably the world’s most popular camera!
And that is actually a theme that recurs for most of the tutorials – they either explain something that is already simple or intuitive enough (hey, the iPhone remains such an easy phone to use – so much so that one of its critics snarkily commented “it is the phone everyone would like to give to their old parents”) or tend to over simplify something that perhaps needed a little more elaboration. Of course, this is just our opinion. Perhaps we expect too much. But then, we would. This is Apple, right?
You CAN have too much of a good thing. Even KISS-ing.