It is good to see others who have also noticed that Apple may have lost its way regarding user-centric design.
TFA misses the point. Apple hasn't "lost its way" -- most of the design changes are clearly on purpose. It follows the classic cult paradigm of keeping esoteric knowledge for the "in-crowd."
I admire Apple, and I use many of its products, so don't dismiss me as a "hater." Hear me out. First, Apple made inroads into certain cultural groups and convinced them that "Mac" was superior to clunky Windows. Then those cultural trendsetters came to be "believers" in all things Apple. A few really good products (e.g., the early iPod designs) helped cement this.
Next step: make your interfaces LESS discoverable, and more dependent on "in-crowd knowledge." This reinforces the cult mindset, creating even more of a feeling that Mac/Apple product users are "in the know" -- knowledge about how to use things is passed between people directly by demonstration, rather than discoverable on your own or with a manual. (No manuals shipped with products anymore either, so unless you specifically go online and try to download one, you're forced to network with other Mac/iPod/iPhone/iPad/etc. users to figure out how to do anything.)
This is the creation of a sort of what cultural historians and sociologists sometimes call an "Imaginary Community" of like-minded folks. You divide up the world into "Mac users" and everyone else.
But non-discoverable interfaces also have the side effect of creating patentable UI structures (like icon sets, or special gesture interfaces), which other non-Apple companies will have to license, if they hope to be compatible with Mac users' expectations. That's the logic likely behind all of the big companies pushing obscure graphical icons ("What the heck does that weird trapezoid with a swirly do?") -- the MS Office Ribbon, Gmail getting rid of text on buttons, and Apple are all trying to win at the same game: they want users to get "locked in" and used to their particular interface, which is only understandable with practice, deliberately NOT discoverable. Discoverable interfaces allow people to switch companies/software/products -- the big tech companies want you to be so stuck with their product that you won't even know how to use another's product.
That's the reason behind TFA's main complaint -- UI design is no longer about ease of use. It is only about that when a company wants to become established. After that, these companies want to force customers to stay, which means creating custom "parts" which are not interchangeable with anyone else's. In the old days, those parts were literal physical things; now they are stuff like icon sets and specific learned (and hopefully patentable!) non-discoverable gestures and UI tricks.
IBM lost the war back in the 80s when it tried to be an open standard for everyone, which just led other companies to pull ahead after all of IBM's hard work in setting the standard. All tech companies learned that lesson.
So, TFA completely misses the point. As TFA notes, Apple products strive to be beautiful -- that's part of the "wow" factor that makes you want to join the cult. Then you join and learn all the esoteric gestures (used to be secret handshakes, now it's how you swipe with three fingers and click or whatever), which you pass along to your fellow cult members. You also learn to decode the secret symbols of the cult by clicking on weird ambiguous pictures rather than self-explanatory words.
Apple knows exactly what it's doing. Too bad the author of TFA hasn't figured it out.