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Apple’s skeuomorphic applications are likely to get a redesign.
Amid the constant buzz surrounding Apple, including staffing changes and new products, one item that shouldn’t be overlooked is their shifted attitude towards skeuomorphic design and interfaces. In a few words, skeuomorphism is the idea that digital applications and programs should appear similar to their real-world counterpart. It relies on real-world metaphors and textures that then translate onto a digital screen, which typically creates a more intuitive interface for users. A few examples include Apple’s Address Book, which appears like an open book, the Newsstand, which looks like a wooden bookshelf, and the Compass, which looks like an old brass mariner’s compass. Steve Jobs was definitely a driving force behind these design choices, but now that CEO Tim Cook is at the helm and Jony Ive is the design head, skeuomorphism will probably be one of the first things to go.
There’s no denying that such design makes a sort of sense; there’s a certain poetry in selecting one of many visual representations of paintbrushes when you use a painting program. But the disconnect comes in two sections: translation and consistency. Once you realize that the rising generation has literally never held an address book in their hands, you’ll see how the visual cues don’t translate to a digital interface. And when your smartphone’s operating system is made of a grid of icons on top of a background you selected yourself (an abstraction that has no real-world counterpart), you start to wonder why the application dedicated to games is colored a garish green like a felt card table. It’s inconsistent and makes no sense.
Apple has more competition in the mobile, tablet, and personal computing market now than ever before. Microsoft’s Windows 8 makes a strong venture in all corners of personal computing, and their minimalist and colorful operating system is, to say the least, appealing. Google’s Android OS continues to gain market share in smartphone sales. And with this increasing opposition, Apple would be foolish to avoid innovation and experimentation.