The great skeuomorphism misunderstanding

“No, I’m not quite ready to let the skeuomorphism thing die just yet. Humor me,” Ken Segall blogs. “I was relieved that Tim Cook dismissed Scott Forstall and put Jony Ive in charge of Human Interface.”

“I was surprised when I read so many articles that seemed to misinterpret what had just happened,” Segall writes. “News flash: skeuomorphism is not dead. What’s dead are cheesy, antiquated graphics — like the stitched leather look in Contacts and Calendar. These were aberrations in a world that had been built upon good taste.”

Segall writes, “The leather stitching didn’t just stick out like a sore thumb. It was a skeuomorphic element tied to the wrong century. Rather than relate to something we’re familiar with, it related to something grandpa used to have on his desk… And what’s with Find My Friends? What’s its excuse for turning into leather? This is exactly the point. Order was breaking down… Jony Ive isn’t going to banish skeuomorphism. He’s going to return it to a state of Apple elegance.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Say farewell: Apple’s ‘Skeuomorphism Hall of Shame’ – November 3, 2012
Major management shake-up likely to end skeuomorphic imagery in Apple software – November 1, 2012
Analysts upbeat on Apple following Tim Cook’s major management shuffle – October 31, 2012
Tim Cook takes full control of Apple: John Browett and Scott Forstall out; Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi get expanded responsibilities – October 29, 2012
Apple software designers sick of doing things Scott Forstall’s way; ‘civil war’ said breaking out – October 10, 2012


    1. Find My Friends has perfect rich textures that is a pleasure to look at every time I use it.

      Blank bland backgrounds will never able to compete with that.

      So if skeuomorphism does not confront with usability and functionality, it has to stay.

  1. Skeuomorphism isn’t the problem. Clunky, non-discoverable interfaces are the problem. when common things in the calendar app are obscure, no one is doing their job correctly.

    1. What is obscure in calendar… I use it every day and for it’s power it could not be more intuitive …. I use virtually every feature and NEVER have needed a help file or took more that 1 time to get it right…. Kind of like turning the pages with a swipe…. But I can click a back or forward arrow to do the same thing …. What exactly are people looking for in an interface?????

      1. The calander in my Nokia E71 worked better. I had way more choices in the setting and timing of alerts. However, I DIDN’T have the big spinning wheels to choose digits when setting times. I would rather they spend more time on functionality and less time on gimmickry.

  2. Skeumorphism afforded the early GUI users the convenience of the Trash Can in the Mac OS, just sayin’. Postponing the original release date, Jobs had spent weeks/months giving the OS artistic touches that got ingrained in our computing non-verbal vernacular. His treatment of title bar still inspires.

  3. Not sure if this falls into this category…
    iTunes, please put the colored icons back!

    It is so much easier to tell apart at a glance. Not to mention grandparents with poor eyesight need all the help they can get when navigating around the screen.

  4. STFU about skeuomorphisms already. The example of Find my Friends? It does what, three things? It isn’t a productivity tool with a hundred UI elements. It’s shows your friends. It allows you to check add and request said friends. It’s stitched leather interface is utterly inoffensive and unobtrusive. If this simple app having a quirky leather interface is what grinds your gears, you need to get your head out of your ass.

  5. Two words: Podcasts app.

    The Podcasts app (downloaded separately in iOS 6 since podcasts were removed from the Music app) is an absolute atrocity and the prime example where skeuomorphism taken to the extreme was preferenced over core functionality.

    The old-fashioned reel-to-reel recording tape serves no purpose whatsoever in a digital world. The elapsed time progress slider is literally a red line (old radio station tuner indicator) no more than a pixel or two thick and very difficult to drag. Before a recent update, it had a clunky speed knob (turtle and hare) which was also hard to touch, however they have since replaced it with an actual toggle button. You have to touch the podcast artwork to reveal the controls and progress as if you were lifting a cover on an LP record player.

    It’s been updated several times but still riddled with bugs. Bugs with core functionality and features that don’t work like they should along with basic UI gone horribly wrong. What a nightmare. What’s worse, Apple had a perfectly solid and working Podcasts section under the Music app. Yes, that’s right, they already had, for 5 years, something which was rock solid. It probably wouldn’t have taken much effort to extract the Podcasts code segments if they just wanted to segregate it.

    But instead we got a skeuomorphic train wreck.

  6. Ken Segall should be fired for saying that.
    U have said it before and I will say it again. I really liked Scott Forstall and I think it was a grave misstake by Tim Cook to fire him and I think this will prove itself to be a misstake in the future. I’m less confident in Cook after this move and disappointed. Scott Forstall was an asset to the company. He had the passion and skill. And frankly. I have not seen a single blogpost or heard a single person criticise Forstall before he was fired. Feels like everyone just jumped on the bash Scott Forstall bandwagon. He was even named for the missing iPhone 4. It’s incredible. I hope Apple comes to its senses and rehire him before he can do too much damage to Apple at another company. Besides. We have not heard Scott Forstall’s version of the story yet. Maybe we will hear it if the future. But his silence makes me wonder. Maybe he is letting others make fools of the selves by talking or he just don’t care. He knows the truth and that’s enough.

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