Why Johnathan Ive won’t be removing skeuomorphism from iOS 7

“In the echo chamber of the blogosphere, it has become accepted wisdom that Jonathan Ive will be stripping all the skeuomorphisms from iOS 7, in favor of a flat new design aesthetic reminiscent of Windows 8,” Graham Bower writes for Mac predictions. “I don’t believe a word of it, and I’ll explain why. But first, let’s take a look at from which this rumour has arisen.”

“It all stared with a wince and the response ‘I’m not really connected with that’ when Ive was asked about faux leather and stitching in an interview with The Telegraph,” Bower writes. “Subsequently, as the result of a management re-shuffled, Ive became responsible for user interface design as well as hardware design. That same reshuffle saw the departure of Scott Forstall – the brilliant but mercurial head of iOS development. Further rumors suggested that he was the driving force behind skeuomorphism, and didn’t get on well with Ive.”

Bower writes, “And that’s where this whole ‘Ive hates skeuomorphism’ meme has arisen from. Forstall in the skeuo corner versus arch-rival Ive in the non-skeuo corner. And now Ive has delivered his knock-out blow, Forstall’s cherished iOS will be stripped of all its skeuo goodness. It’s a great story – ideal for a comic book, perhaps. But in reality, it’s overly simplistic… I think we’re far more likely to see evolutionary rather than revolutionary design ideas. And as with every Apple product announcement, this will initially result in the inevitable griping, and ill-informed journalists claim that iOS 7 doesn’t look as different to iOS or as similar to Windows 8 as it supposedly needs to. And yet a few months down the line, as usual, everyone will have discovered the wisdom of Apple’s design choices.”

Much more in the full article here.


    1. Scott was not the driving force
      behind skeuomorphism, as iOS came after OSX.

      The Aqua theme was apparent back in the Kodiak public Beta.
      OSX 10.0.0 Cheetah, 10.1 Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther, 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard all reflect skeuomorphism. iPhone OS only appears at the time of Leopard comes to market… Scott merely follows the same theme.

      “Scott Forstall – the brilliant but mercurial head of iOS development. Further rumors suggested that he was the driving force behind skeuomorphism, and didn’t get on well with Ive.”

      1. NOTE: The skeuomorph ornamental design comes initially under Avadis Tevanian’s days.

        Tevanian was responsible for setting company-wide software technology direction at Apple. At Apple, he was the primary figure in the development of Mac OS X

        In 2006, Forstall became responsible for Mac OS X releases after Avadis Tevanian stepped down as the company’s Chief Software Technology Officer and before being named Senior Vice President of iPhone Software.

      2. In the 1970s cult film ‘Eraserhead’ the main man pulling the power levers is Steve, while Scott is dancing inside the radiator box (metaphorically speaking).

        That is if I remember correctly because it has been decades since my last visit to the TLA cinema in South Philly.

        Fun Saturday night (U.S.) pop culture references aside, Steve was always the main man behind ‘skeuomorphism’ with the release of OSX 10.0.0 Cheetah, and Scott made it happen to our benefit up to this point.

        We shall see.

        Speculation can be a reflection — but not a direction.

        1. “Speculation can be a reflection — but not a direction.”

          On second thought, my careless neglect of industries that include analysts, Wall Street and the media.

    1. The blogosphere is a freaking idiot if it think iOS will go for an aesthetic reminiscent of Windows 8. All a “flat” aesthetic means is designing without creating the illusion of depth. Even if rumors of it being “flat” it right, there’s an infinite number of ways to make flat designs, and Apple is sure to still make design decisions more tastefully than Windows 8.

      The cultural differences between Microsoft and Apple has almost always come down to one having taste and the other lacking it. Even if they both go for flat aesthetics, the difference in taste will still be just as apparent in the designs they arrive at.

      1. I have chosen to re-think my initial thoughts on the flattening of iOS. I now believe, the comment, “flatter” actually refers to the compression or better unifying iOS to OSX and not the graphics specifically.

        After all, as UI chef, Jonny Ives over sees the entire look not just the colours and design as those are visual signs not all that a user interface is.

  1. You could, perhaps, do worse then looking at the brand new iTunes miniplayer released in this week’s update. In particular checking the mini and expanded-mini album view is worth doing if you’re interested in potential UI development.

    Not many have picked up that, after the recent podcast app update, it’s the 2nd gui update under Ive.


  2. I never was completely onboard with the whole anti-skumorpha-watchmacallit in the first place. As with all good things it can be taken too far, but why such a penchant for complete eradication? It’s ok to have real-world analogies in the virtual world as long as we’re not dogmatically locked down to them.

  3. Listen to you idiots. First u were all gitty over a flat iOS and now ur not sure or think it’s a bad idea because it’ll look too much like Windows 8. Delusional fanboys that will believe any rumor of the week to give u hope to keep on living another day because Apple has something new up its sleeve.

      1. … correct in declaring this poster as a troll, but the poster is correct in saying “First u were all gitty over a flat iOS and now ur not sure or think it’s a bad idea because it’ll look too much like Windows 8”. Not me … I LIKE the pretend leather, the pretend wood, the appearance of an office. Remember “Kaliedoscope”(sp?)? Loved it. Like Apple’s stuff much better.
        But MANY of you do not agree and have said so openly. And often. Own it. Doesn’t make you a bad person.

        1. No. I’ve been entirely consistent. If you care, go read what I actually wrote. It takes work, but that’s what research is: work.

          I’ve never said a single word about the ‘leather look’. I HAVE, however, been the #1 champion around here of Apple moving into a serious 3D GUI. I’ve been on that rant for years. That makes me a futurist person. 😕

  4. Apple put a lot of effort in Core Graphics, Core Animation, OpenCL, and a bunch of other stuff that I’m not smart on to develop an OS that can handle all of the fancy graphics and do it very very well. Nobody else can come close to the fluidity of what Apple has accomplished. The reason Microsoft went with their flat UI was because they were incapable of doing the cool stuff on mobile hardware. For Apple to throw their advantage away seems incomprehensible to me.

  5. If you used the first Mac in 1984, then went to sleep for 29 years and woke up today, you could sit in front of a Mac running ML and know how to use it. The menus are in the same place, many of the menu options are in the same place, and icons are nicer, but they are still icons. While the operating system has progressed by leaps and bounds, it still looks and feels the same. Which is a good thing.

    On the other hand, Windows users are faced with a constantly changing interface with every operating system update. Those poor suckers.

    So don’t expect big changes in the next iOS. Cleaning up Forstall’s goofy look and feel will likely happen, but the basic look of the iOS is unlikely to change.

    1. My guess is Apple did that color and texture as a direct market test; seriously.

      Right now I have the better part of 20 windows open on a project and that is a light number of windows. When the calendar is open on your desktop, there is no way to mistake where the calendar is located in whichever view format you choose.

      Every other window header visible is just the same grey color.

      There is more to using “pig ugly yellow” than meets the eye. In business, the calendar may in fact be one of the most used applications every hour as appointments and due dates are recorded.

      I suspect Ive knows more than we do about the market testing that led to the choice in Calendar header color.

  6. Visual cues to function give meaning to software and promote ease of use. To make everything flat is a waste of time. Even the home button on the iPhone is indented to give our thumbs an easy target. The world we live in is 3D and we rely on these visual clues to be able to function . . . however, we don’t need faux leather daytimers to help us find the data we need.

    1. “. . . however, we don’t need faux leather daytimers to help us find the data we need.”

      Any ‘faux’ material used in the digital universe will grant us ACCESS to data. We’re talking pixel images — moron!

      Visual images in and of themselves do not affect user outcome, only support a political AGENDA like yours.

      You really are uneven handed and clueless of reality outside your PETA lifetime membership.

      That’s fine for personal freedom, good luck with that.

      How about FAUX RUBBER? And you can hold your head up high not using oil from the death of dinosaurs.

      And while we are on the topic, guess all the machines you use are lubricated and powered by vegetable oil. Yeah, right.

      Your lack of even-handed thought through comments are self evident …

          1. Although you are quick to call names, you haven’t explained your original comment and how it applies.

            Perhaps I misunderstood your last statement: I think you are saying that “you like my comments” and you are signing off as “clueless moron”. You don’t have to be so hard on yourself here. We can forgive your cluelessness and I hope that no one thinks you are a moron because you tried to post here.

            1. “You don’t have to be so hard on yourself here.”

              Hard on myself? LOL!

              This should make it crystal clear since you obviously misread my post: 3l3c7ro YOU are a clueless moron.

            2. Are you sure? Do you have any objective measurements? I think that your name calling is purely subjective and may be distorted by your life experiences as one of the class that you are trying to put me in. If you call me a name enough times, does that make it true? You have my greatest sympathy for your plight in life. May the future bring you a better and fuller life so that you don’t feel it necessary to pull others down to your level.

  7. A flatter iOS UI doesnot mean it will become a Zunietunes Teletubbie Win8 Metro-not Metro style UI. Ive will never do that he will just evolve the minimalism that is trademark Apple design.

    Wait & see at Develoers Conference.

  8. Johnny Ives aesthetic principles are born of European minimalism. Miles van der rohe and Dieter Rams are clear influences. He is unlikely to like mum and pop skeomorphism in any form. Ever. And with good reason; it’s anachronistic. Silver surfers might like it’s old world charm but anyone south of fifty will think its naf in a kaftan

    1. “Silver surfers might like it’s old world charm but anyone south of fifty …”

      Really? Tell that to my six year old neice. Skeomorphism works because images are universally recognizable by people of all ages around the globe.

      Sounds like your no animal products diet disdains the leather stitching.

      Besides, who needs to decipher modern art.

      Have to say one thing favorable about your comments, very gentle for an elitist (snob).

  9. I’ve featured a few articles on iOS 7 and the new products launched or being launched by Google over the coming months. I think Apple really need to pick up the game, they’ve fallen down and they continue to do so:

    iOS 7 concept design, featuring widgets and lives tiles:

    iOS 7 Zesty design:

    1. If they go for the ‘Zesty’ look (before & after) in the second article — not only hideous, flat, uninspiring — will cause a certain amount of confusion and a learning curve for young school children particularly and the silver surfers. Not to mention the majority who may not like linear Swiss design.

      If this design made its way into children’s textbooks — no kid would pass a grade.

      Gone are the rounded corners and gradients, now linear icons in a flat box (me too Windows). Now that’s progress.

      ‘Zesty’ is a con job word that is anything but …

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