If you have applied a screen protector to an iPad, you have probably found out you need the hands of a surgeon to get it right.

I was happily oblivious of this until the screen protector I’d ordered arrived in the post yesterday. Having spent nearly $20 for a pack of two, I went completely out of character and decided to invest some time familiarizing myself with the instructions, which were thankfully illustrated. I love a visual manual!

iPad screen protector - instructions for application

The manual was recommending watching the videos on the supplier’s website, so I did that too. A few minutes later I had the procedures distilled into the following algorithm.

How to apply an iPad screen protector

How to apply iPad screen protector - algorithm

Dust-free environment sounded crucial for the operation, so I left the shower on in the bathroom for a few minutes, then entered, ready for action.

Ten minutes and a ton of sweat later I wasn’t getting anywhere. The protector was not sticking well to the screen and whichever way I attacked it with the smoothing plastic card, I couldn’t get rid of the countless bubbles that kept appearing under the surface.

My stubbornness wouldn’t let me admit defeat, so I decided to put that experiment down to lack of experience and tried my luck with the second cover, this time aiming for ninja-like speed and precision.

Same result.

I was positively grumpy at that point and, mourning the loss of my twenty bucks, decided to console myself with breakfast. The packaging and instructions were still lying on the breakfast table and caught my eye. While I was distractedly looking at them, it started dawning on me what an idiot I had been…

I had noted the colour-coded stickers and all that, but had missed a vital detail: in step 3 the protector was rotated… Perceiving Step 2 and Step 3 as pretty much the same picture, showing peeling in progress, I had managed to ignore the difference in the yellow and the blue sticker positions between the two steps. In other words, I had peeled the wrong side of the protector!

Hoping against hope, I decided to have another go at one of the protector sheets I had discarded. It worked like magic: although I had already abused it almost beyond recognition, the sheet stuck, the occasional bubble was smoothly expelled with the plastic card and my iPad looked sleek!

The principle of connectedness

This one was formulated by Stephen Palmer and Irvin Rock in the 1990s and states that even though size, colour, texture or proximity are quite strong visual cues for grouping things together, visual connections between them can be an even more powerful cue.

I wondered how many other users, who like me prefer not to read, but to follow pictures, have managed to ignore the colour coding of the stickers in Step 2 and Step 3, although it is quite clear: stickers are marked yellow and blue.

To make life easier for visual learners and make the difference between Step 2 and Step 3 hard to miss, I’d add apply the principle of connectedness and add arrows to the picture:

And this is the only improvement I would do to the product!

Thank you, MediaDevil!

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