The New York Times’ excellent Bits Blog wrote this morning about how Apple’s management changes could lead to user interface changes. In particular, this concerns skeuomorphic elements and textures: Forstall (and Jobs before him) were apparently enamored with recreating real objects in the iOS interface. You can see this in apps like Game Center (hideous felt and a casino table motif), Newsstand and iBooks (they’re not real texts unless they’re on a virtual shelf), and the linen texture that pervades iOS and now OS X. That’s not even counting the design disaster that is Find My Friends and Calendar–fake leather is tacky in real life, but virtual fake leather is inexcusable. However, there hasn’t been an Apple statement saying that they’ll change these elements, only conjecture. According to the ol’ anonymous Apple employee, interviewed by the NYT:
The executive who will now set the direction for the look of Apple’s software is Jonathan Ive, who has long been responsible for Apple’s minimalist hardware designs. Mr. Ive, despite his close relationship with Mr. Jobs, has made his distaste for the visual ornamentation in Apple’s mobile software known within the company, according to current and former Apple employees who asked not to be named discussing internal matters.
Yay! It’s about time that iOS grew up–OS X sported brushed metal for a long time before it became mature, too. But it’s not like this design shift is a surprise for Apple watchers. According to a Fast Company piece published in September 2011:
Inside Apple, tension has brewed for years over the issue. Apple iOS SVP Scott Forstall is said to push for skeuomorphic design, while industrial designer Jony Ive and other Apple higher-ups are said to oppose the direction. “You could tell who did the product based on how much glitz was in the UI,” says one source intimately familiar with Apple’s design process.
This is great news for iOS users who feel insulted by its ever-present skeuomorphic elements. Next step: letting users hide Newsstand, the scourge of homescreens everywhere.
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