Another great post by Christoffer Du Rietz touches the topic of a so-called skeumorphism trend in Apple’s UI. While the majority of tech blogosphere simply bashes skeumorphism, Christoffer Du Rietz tries to look at the reasons that made Apple utilize it.
Apple has built it’s iOS devices to be the perfect app consoles. Apple has created this perfect blank app canvas so the apps themselves can stand out and make impact. The clean hardware design creates extra leg-room for creative expressive design, not the other way around. And Apple is using that extra leg-room to its full extent. I see this as a perfectly coherent strategy.
It’s worth to add, that skeumorphism in UIs isn’t new — one can even say that most of GUIs were designed around some amount of skeumorphism in them. Try to remember the original Macintosh and even the earliest version of Mac OS (back when it wasn’t even called Mac OS) — it had the desktop, folders and even a trash can! Sure, now they are all obvious elements of a typical desktop GUI, but back than they were as skeumorphism as you can get. And what about a “Read Me” file with a news-paper icon? Or maybe a text-editor that had an icon of notepad with a pencil? Or a calculator application that looked (and still looks) like a calculator?
The point is — the whole “skeumorphism in UI” problem is a problem only for self-absorbed tech nerds that forgot history and the fact the sometime ago any GUI was considered skeumorphic (“there’s no need to draw a folder icon on the monitor and click it with a pointer to navigate around — you can just type cd or dir”). In reality, some amount of well-executed skeuomorphism only helps, not only by making the UI more intuitive, but also by creating a more enjoyable user-experience. One can dislike skeumorphism in UI, but let’s not substitute opinions and tastes for facts.