The big breakthrough of the touch screen iPod and the iPhone was that they allowed you to surface more information more quickly than the menu driven devices in the past.

Information about choices and options became more visible more quickly removing some of the rigidity of menu driven interfaces.

The touch screen simplified the interaction with the device. Touching the screen rather than using some kind of pointing device created more screen real estate to make things more visible.

One of the key ideas of user interface design is to put options that aren’t used frequently at ‘deeper’ levels of the program. It makes sense.

Yet, these ‘buried’ settings are often in control how you see things at the surface.

As applications get bigger and more powerful, there are more options and settings to control. Accepting the default settings is just something we do unless we are motivated to change them. And it is possible to change them (unlike the license agreement).

For example, Microsoft 365 has so many settings that have so many potential consequences that you can actually lock everyone out of the account without any ability to recover a previous state. Talk about a secure system.

There are so many settings beneath the surface and their interaction with other settings is not always known in advance.

The icon based interface and the touch screen gave people a more visual way to surface and process more information more quickly.

But just because there is a pretty picture on top of the surface doesn’t mean that there is not a lot of ugly complexity hidden underneath.

The hidden complexity is the source of all the trouble.