Since the early days of Apple, an emphasis has been put on realistic user interfaces, starting with the Apple Lisa’s GUI in 1983. This drive for skeuomorphism in design is more present in iOS than ever before. Having a touch screen allows applications to feel more natural, simulating actual real-world buttons and objects. If speculation is to be believed, future versions of iOS may take this trend even farther by placing user interface shadows based on the actual position of the light source in the room.
Benjamin Jackson at Buzzfeed reports:
One Apple employee (who I can’t name as the company does not allow employees to speak on the record without approval from media relations) said that in the future, your phone will show drop shadows based on the actual position of the light in the room, as detected by the phone’s ambient sensor — and everything in the UI will be rendered in 3D on the fly.
While a system like this may seem like pure fantasy, remember that iOS 6 introduced an animation in the music app on the volume slider, changing the button reflections based on how you tilt the device.
With all of these design innovations coming to iOS, it’s important to consider one thing, though. Will a system like this really add to the overall user experience? Above all, iOS is about simplicity, and I’m not sure if dynamic drop shadows really convey that message. Sure, it makes for a great demo, but there comes a point where less is more.
In all honesty, the changing reflections on the volume button in iOS 6 are a little bit cheesy, and I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Apple is overdoing it when it comes to design. If you need any more proof, look at the likes of Game Center and the Calendar app in OS X.
What do you think? Are all these design tweaks overdone or is just part of the natural evolution of the user interface?