Where Microsoft Has ‘More Taste’ Than Apple

Where Microsoft Has ‘More Taste’ Than Apple

It must surely be a sign of the impending apocalypse that Microsoft’s operating systems have “more taste” than Apple’s.

I’m referring, of course, to Apple’s inexplicable use of skeuomorphic design in iOS and OS X apps, and contrasting that with Microsoft’s stark avoidance of such cheesy gimmickry in the Windows 8 and Windows Phone user interfaces.

A skeuomorphic design in software is one that “decorates” the interface with fake reality — say, analog knobs or torn paper.

The problem is worse than it sounds. 

Apple’s Bad Taste

Apple’s most recent skeuomorph is one of the worst. The company’s Podcasts app, released in June, actually shows a reel-to-reel tape playing while the podcast is running. Do people under the age of 30 even know what a reel-to-reel tape player is?

The Calendar app for the iPad has torn paper, suggesting that previous months have been ripped from a physical calendar. Gimme a break.

The iPhoto app for iOS has big, fugly brushes for “Red Eye” repair and “desaturate,” as if there’s anything in the real world you can desaturate with a paint brush.

Both the iOS iBooks and Newsstand apps show a wood-grained book shelf where your content unnaturally sits.

There are many other examples on Apple’s desktop and mobile user interfaces.

Making matters worse (i.e. more tasteless) is that the skeuomorph idea is neither universal among apps, nor applied in a visually consistent way across the apps that have been give a skeuomorphic design treatment.

Apple’s application of skeuomorphs is arbitrary and inconsistent, which is yet another point of bad taste.

The Importance of Taste

In the 1996 TV documentary, Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires, Steve Jobs is quoted famously as saying: “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste.

He went on: “They have absolutely no taste… I don’t mean that in a small way. I mean it in a big way. In the sense that they don’t think of original ideas. And they don’t bring much culture into their product… Why is that important? Proportionally-spaced fonts come from typesetting and beautiful books. That’s where one gets the idea.”

It’s this idea of good taste that has set Apple apart from competitors, both in software and especially in hardware design.

That’s why Apple’s embrace of skeuomorphic design is so bizarre.

Why Skeuomorphic Design Is Cheesy

In the quote above, Jobs pointed out that proportionally spaced fonts “come from typesetting and beautiful books.” The idea is that Apple’s early and aggressive use of proportionally spaced fonts indicates taste, because the idea came from a traditional craft, from a cultural tradition of beauty.

So where does the skeuomorphic design idea come from?

Traditionally, skeuomorphic design has been used to make cheap things look like their more expensive alternatives.

The Wikipedia entry on “skeuomorph” has some great examples, such as plastic objects that mimic wooden or metal counterparts; cigarettes that have paper around the filter that looks like cork; and window shutters that don’t shut.

Skeuomorphic design is mostly about trickery and fakery to make unsophisticated people feel like the cheap thing they’re getting is the better thing they really want.

More recently, skeuomorphic design has been used to make digital things look like physical counterparts, which is, for the most part, how Apple uses it. But not always.

For example, the Find My Friends App is designed to look like a roughly sewn leather “thing.”

There is no analog or traditional equivalent to an app that uses GPS to locate other people. Apple is just willy nilly deciding that this functionality should be encased in leather.

Here we have one of the most incredible technologies ever made available to consumers — one that communicates with multiple Earth-orbiting satellites, and it’s decorated to look like a wallet made at summer camp.

Apple Hardware Design is the Opposite of Skeuomorphic

Apple is supposed to be the company that makes “integrated” products — the hardware, software and services. The idea is that because one company makes it all, everything goes together better.

But that idea doesn’t exist with Apple products from a design point of view. Apple’s famous hardware design is all about stark, functional minimalism — the epitome of good taste.

Just as proportionally-spaced fonts come from typesetting and beautiful books, Apple’s current industrial hardware design comes from somewhere specific, too.

It comes from the same place as the Bauhaus design movement, which combines functionality with minimalism and eliminates extraneous decorative elements.

Bauhaus design is the exact polar opposite of skeuomorphic design. One is about the total absence of decoration, the other is about the addition of decoration designed to make you think of something other than the object you’re using.

Apple’s industrial design is the apex of good taste. Apple’s skeuomorphic designs are the nadir.

I can’t make it any plainer than this: Apple’s skeuomorphic designs totally clash with Apple’s industrial hardware design.

If Apple is attempting “integration” from a design point of view, they have failed completely.

If Apple wanted interface design with taste, and design that’s consistent with its own hardware design, it would create software designs that come from the same European minimalism.

You know, like Windows 8.

Why Microsoft’s OSes Have More “Taste” Than Apple’s

While Apple’s skeuomorphic designs are based on crass consumer hucksterism, Microsoft’s Metro UI is based on Swiss graphic design. In fact, the entire philosophy of the Metro UI is based on the primacy of typography over pictures.

And not just any typography, but specifically the typography of Swiss rail travel, which uses the Helvetica face (also invented in Switzerland).

The design sensibility of the Metro UI is identical to Apple industrial design, which is a radical emphasis on minimalism, clarity, function and an absence of superfluous decoration.

Please note that I’m not asserting that Microsoft is better than Apple, or that Windows is better than iOS or OS X.

And I’m not saying that Microsoft in general has more taste than Apple. I still believe Apple excels at the taste thing, in hardware design, in Apple Stores, on its web site and even in software.

And that’s why it’s so confusing and unexpected that Apple arbitrarily — almost randomly — applies the cheesy, crass, gimmicky concept of skeuomorphic design to many of its apps and operating system interfaces.

It’s as confusing and unexpected as Microsoft’s good taste in the Metro UI.

  • Sean Murphy

    1

  • Micke Seið

    Hey Apple designers, this is how a real “reel-to-reel” looks like: http://goo.gl/W2UTO

  • Chad Clawson

    What do you know about design? Unlike Microsoft’s metro interface is a “fad” and will be here today and gone tomorrow, Apple’s UI design has rich elements that bring and screen to life. Shadows, gradients, highlights and textures are not a fad because they are part of our everyday world. I would much rather look at a screen with depth and richness than a boring lifeless metro interface. I am a designer, that is what I do full-time for a living. You should write less about things that you obviously don’t know about.

  • baby_Twitty

    I love all these “skeuomorphic” designs!!!

    Mike, you have bad taste.

  • thbthttt

    I’ve been worried about exactly this for some time now. Alas, I think it began with that abysmal Quicktime Player makeover the released for QuickTime 4.0. http://web.archive.org/web/19991012163338/http://iarchitect.com/qtime.htm

  • gnomehole

    I like the reel to reel, though I agree their fake leatherish look in some apps is not great.

    I would suggest not assuming that *your* taste = good taste. Thats pretty moronic at best.

  • WZDM

    Mike your articles are always downer drIvel. I feel like I’m reading a Fox News opinion article. Go create Cult of DOS and quit writing for Cult of Mac, please.

  • Tallest_Skil

    This entire article is complete idiocy.

    If you don’t like things being represented with a logical visual connection to their real world equivalents, shut up and go buy Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, since you seem to enjoy them so much. It’s just that simple. Heaven knows they’ll need the business, as the former will be Microsoft’s last consumer OS.

    If you want to use a music application that looks like a big tic-tac-toe game, go use Microsoft’s designs.
    If you want to use a music application that looks just like the physical guitar you’re playing, use Apple’s.

    If you want to use two identical-looking applications that have lines for typing text, go use Microsoft’s designs.
    If you want to know that you’re writing a note to yourself or setting up a geofenced reminder and be able to discern the connection to their underlying features in the span of 1/20th of a second use Apple’s.

    This is the fundamental difference between Apple and Microsoft in their approach to selling technology to people, and you’ve not only missed the boat entirely, you’re waiting by the shore for the boat as a concept to be invented, but that’s centuries away.

    Apple takes technology that Joe Schmoe doesn’t understand (and doesn’t care to understand for any reason at any time) and puts it in a shell with which Joe is familiar. Since Joe has used such-and-such before in the real world, he can see the connection being made to this software and can switch to it from his physical equivalent with relative ease.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, is stripping the humanity from Windows (Phone) 8 completely. They’re making a cold, clinical world where nothing at all is familiar to anyone. This fits in perfectly with Microsoft’s worldview, as if no one on Earth has any connection or prior knowledge of what is going on, THEY CAN TELL US EXACTLY HOW TO USE THE SYSTEM, and no one can say boo about it because we don’t have a frame of reference.

    This is exactly what they did to the Internet in the 90s, and the entire world is still rebuilding after the devastation they caused there. We’ll be fixing the problems they caused there until 2020.

    Now, author, you have to ask yourself, “Why am I supporting Microsoft in their endeavor to gang rape OS’ in the same way they gang raped the Internet?”

  • Tallest_Skil

    I’ve been worried about exactly this for some time now. Alas, I think it began with that abysmal Quicktime Player makeover the released for QuickTime 4.0.

    The article stops being helpful when there aren’t any images. Though I imagine it’s not helpful in the slightest, anyway.

  • wizard32843

    I love all these “skeuomorphic” designs!!!
    Mike, you have bad taste.

    It’s nice when it’s “right”. Find My Friends is truly a disaster.

  • aepxc

    Most unsophisticated criticisms of skeuomorphism tend to confuse simulation with ornamentation. Simulation tries to convince you that it is something it is not (and Apple never does it – there is no chance of anyone thinking that the Podcasts app is an ACTUAL tape player). Ornamentation adds functionally unnecessary flourishes, in order to avoid dissonance produced by the object breaking the patterns of its environment (and sticking out like a sore thumb). Of course, ornamentation can go too far – an object that is much more ostentatious than its surroundings produces just as much dissonance as an object that is overly minimal. Effective minimalism, therefore, is one that tries to produce the least amount of pattern-breaking and dissonance, not one that tries to remove all ornament.

    Striking a balance is much more difficult than ideological purity, and it is in striking a balance that taste comes in (purity can be done by an algorithm). Taste is difficult and difficult to objectively judge. But so far, Apple seems to be doing a pretty good job of it most of the time.

  • Sdreed91

    I feel as though the argument is contradicted when Elgan used the Jobs quote that “Proportionally-spaced fonts come from typesetting and beautiful books. That’s where one gets the idea.” Elgan then goes on to write “The idea is that Apple’s early and aggressive use of proportionally spaced fonts indicates taste, because the idea came from a traditional craft, from a cultural tradition of beauty.” Well news flash: that beauty is based on a certain reality which is why, skeumorphic design is used. Skeuomorphic design is used because it is based on culturally beautiful designs. So your argument is flawed in my opinion.

  • mmcleod

    What you refer to is ‘Trompe-l’œil’, the rendering of an object on a 2d surface to look three-dimensional. Contrary to your assertion, this is a rich, celebrated technique generally associated with–talk about who’s lacking in culture–flemish, italian and french master painters of the baroque era. The image on a iPhone screen is a rendering, while a skeumorph is an actual object with simulated or vestigal features.

  • Billy Pelt

    People love these designs and so do I. The paper on the calendar is honestly my favorite element in OSX. Gets me every time.

    There’s nothing more tired than hearing a fanboy complain about how his desires haven’t been forced on everyone else.

  • mr_bee

    Groan, … another “Mike Elgan smoked a joint and had a vision” article.

    It’s like reading articles about computers written by my 80 year old Mum.

    This whole article hinges on Mike’s definition of skeuomorphism as being “design … used to make cheap things look like their more expensive alternatives,” which isn’t actually the definition of skeuomorphism and additionally completely misses the *intention* of skeuomorphism which in this case is to make the technology more friendly and easier to grasp for the average user. Skeuomorphism isn’t a “cheat” or an attempt to make something crappy look better as Mike Argues, but an attempt to make the unfamiliar, familiar.

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    I’m really fed up of Cult of Mac being nothing but opinion pieces. You don’t like skeuomorphic design, fair enough, but that doesn’t mean you need to rant about it in an article and put it on here! Cult of Mac is not your ranting space, but is supposed to be a news orientated blog.

    Apple’s use of skeuomorphic design is to try and soften technology. Apple makes technology that is simple and user friendly. Apple’s product design can be hard and minimal, the software has to compensate for this and the skeuomorphic elements help make the apps more friendly.

    I like the skeuomorphic design and much prefer to the over simplified Metro UI, which is frankly too spartan for me. However, I will not assert that my taste is better than yours, as you have. I will however state that with this latest ‘article’ on Cult of Mac, my taste has changed and I’ll no longer be visiting this site for news, but will simply stick to AppleInsider and 9to5.

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    I’m really fed up of Cult of Mac being nothing but opinion pieces. You don’t like skeuomorphic design, fair enough, but that doesn’t mean you need to rant about it in an article and put it on here! Cult of Mac is not your ranting space, but is supposed to be a news orientated blog.

    Apple’s use of skeuomorphic design is to try and soften technology. Apple makes technology that is simple and user friendly. Apple’s product design can be hard and minimal, the software has to compensate for this and the skeuomorphic elements help make the apps more friendly.

    I like the skeuomorphic design and much prefer to the over simplified Metro UI, which is frankly too spartan for me. However, I will not assert that my taste is better than yours, as you have. I will however state that with this latest ‘article’ on Cult of Mac, my taste has changed and I’ll no longer be visiting this site for news, but will simply stick to AppleInsider and 9to5.

  • garrettchace

    What an idiotic post. The only thing that lacks taste in this article is your use of incorrect grammar.

  • Mac8a

    I have a few things to say… First, if you dislike the skeuomorphic design, load up Windows 8 on your MacBook Air/Pro or get a Metro Style Theme and tweak the crap out of OS X (Put in as much time, energy, thought, and idea as the original team of designers did) (i.e. quit complaining and change it or at least be great full and appreciative and respectful for the hard work others have done to provide you with what you have) Next, imagine for a moment if we did take all the skeuomorphic design out and left it blank (what’s more minimalistic?) it would be empty, boring, lacking (an empty canvas !) Artists don’t sell empty canvases they sell art! The so called skeuomorphic design in place take away the void and fill the space with life, enrichment, eye candy. Metro is certainly a fad, it appears nice and elegant simply due to the fact it’s NEW it’s a change of pace for Microsoft; but it’ll certainly dull as time carries on; imagine still stairing at the same solid white shapes and figures five years from now, where is the excitement in vanilla, the plain? It would be a daunting dull experience something straight out of the 1984 book/film. No texture, no color, no depth, no detail. Give me Apple’s designs any day, they truly are great Artist!

  • RaycerXray

    I kind of like these design elements Apple has throw in – especially the way they make a modern connection to the technology of the past. It helps make things feel “real” instead of having a purely “digital” interface that adds no warmth to the experience. This article is much ado about nuttin.’

  • Steven Zahl

    TILES are Flat and Boring

  • MailerDaemonCore

    In every “Apple’s Skeuomorphism is bad” article, not once have I seen discussed the value of making a program looking like a real-world analog for users who are completely new to your platform. Take the address book app for example. The fact that it looks like an actual address book is a visual cue to someone who is just getting used to the concept of digitization of their information. Another example is their notes app. The lined yellow paper is a visual cue that you are supposed to put text there. The torn paper at the top further reinforces the mutability of the paper.

    Your example of the “Find My Friends” app is completely valid however. I never liked the app from the beginning, and I think the UI needs a lot of work, not just in terms of how it looks. If you input the incorrect password at the login screen, the dialog shown includes a button labeled “iForgot.” Come on.

    But for the most part, Apple applies skeuomorphism appropriately to make their apps more intuitive to use than, say, an app with the metro theming, where all you get is minimalist text against gradient black backgrounds. I think metro is a very pretty UI theme, and Microsoft did a good job on it, but it’s hard to compete in terms of intuitivity against something that looks like a physical analog.

  • Wabel Ghalayini

    Pointless article Mike, go talk about the iPhone 5 rumours

  • SalvadorRudy

    Well I don´t mean to offend but your taste suck. Try to avoid design talking.

  • MatTylerMedia

    Oh wow, I just love how many people here have managed to get so deeply and personally offended, even downright aggressive (maybe feral?) in responding to this person’s opinion. I mean, folks… really? It is only an opinion after all, and while there may or may not be any validity to his commentary, calling someone an “idiot” or a “moron” just becuase you don’t happen to agree with them is downright juvenile and ignorant. Why get so darn confrontational? If you truly believe you are sitting on a winner with Apple’s current design, then what are you trying to prove by getting so defensive? Take a chill pill folks and show some grace. We can all use whatever OS and software we like, however we like, whenever we like! It’s not as if his article is robbing you of your own personal choice!

  • Andre Godoi

    You don’t speak for me. I like the way the apps are designed.

  • CGJack

    I agree with baby_Twitty. The Skeuomorphic designs look a lot better than what other companies have to offer.

  • MAGZine

    Groan, … another “Mike Elgan smoked a joint and had a vision” article.

    It’s like reading articles about computers written by my 80 year old Mum.

    This whole article hinges on Mike’s definition of skeuomorphism as being “design … used to make cheap things look like their more expensive alternatives,” which isn’t actually the definition of skeuomorphism and additionally completely misses the *intention* of skeuomorphism which in this case is to make the technology more friendly and easier to grasp for the average user. Skeuomorphism isn’t a “cheat” or an attempt to make something crappy look better as Mike Argues, but an attempt to make the unfamiliar, familiar.

    This phenomenon is actually metaphor, not Skeuomorphism. The “Recycle bin,” “copying and pasting,” your “Desktop,” “opening and closing files,” “folders,” etc are all metaphors in computer design, and are used to equate our virtual environment to our real-life environment.

    If you’re going to have a tear-off calendar and a notebook for a note taking, why not have a Rolodex for your contacts? Because the design is old, antiquated, clunky, and was created because that’s what people had to work with in the time. Likewise, leather bindings for torn-off calendars were used so that you didn’t have a gigantic mess of calendar pages all over the place. But why would you *do* something like this? When people see a 7×5 grid with numbers in the corner, people recognize this as a calendar. You don’t need to baby them into likening it with some ancient relic (seriously, when was the last time that you saw a calendar with a leather binding?) Design something clean and useable, something that fits in with the 21st century dynamic that we live in today. Modern. Simple. Intuitive.

    For your reference:
    Do note the much more effective use of space with Microsoft’s calendar, and the simplicity in the design. Also note one calendar only has a single event on it, not to be confused with “undue busyness”
    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/2012/06/windows-8-cal-06-16-12-01.jpg
    http://www1.pcmag.com/media/images/264181-apple-mac-os-x-lion-10-7-calendar.jpg

  • TheFreakTweet

    There’s a reason why apple is pushing 3 dimentional and tactile ‘looking’ interfaces for their latest apps. I wouldn’t expect someone writing from Cult of Mac with no direct link to Apple to understand the long term purpose of such an approach. Microsoft’s 2D Metro metaphor is oddly short sighted. In about 2 years the writer of this article will understand how off the mark he was. I leave it up to the commenters here to speculate what kind of interface breakthroughs are in Apple’s development pipe that’ll instantly transform Apple’s “tasteless” UI’s into experiences that they can see with better ‘depth’ and, soon after, touch with better ‘sense’.

  • ericschultheiss

    I use Winamp on Windows more often than I do WMP because I can skin it to my liking. And one skin I use most often makes Winamp look like a retro Hi-Fi stereo. So some people like the look and feel of the apps. This is more of an opinion piece, but you’re writing it as if it’s fact (saying “Apple has no taste” rather than “It’s my opinion that Apple has no taste.”) Learn the difference between fact and opinion, and also use value English words. When you say something like “Gimme a break.” it makes it seem like you’re an idiot. Are you a moron? If not, then say “Give me a break.” – See how “Give me” as opposed to “Gimme” has a more intelligent feel to it? Stop using incorrect English, it just makes my head hurt when I try to read your kindergarden nonsense.

  • TheFreakTweet

    There’s a reason why apple is pushing 3 dimentional and tactile ‘looking’ interfaces for their latest apps. I wouldn’t expect someone writing from Cult of Mac with no direct link to Apple to understand the long term purpose of such an approach. Microsoft’s 2D Metro metaphor is oddly short sighted. In about 2 years the writer of this article will understand how off the mark he was with this article. I leave it up to the commenters here to speculate what kind of interface breakthroughs are in Apple’s development pipe that will instantly transform their “tasteless” UI’s into experiences that they can see with better ‘depth’ and, soon after, touch with better ‘sense’.

  • BMWTwisty

    Hmmmmm, why here on this very site we see somwhat of a contrary opinion that’s based on a Jony Ive design homage. http://www.cultofmac.com/176008/heres-the-braun-tape-recorder-that-inspired-apples-podcasts-app-gallery/

  • cprblak

    Thanks for writing this. It needed to be said. And repeated.
    Every time I use Address Book in Lion I think its look was designed with a 10 year old in mind.

    This is the company that discontinues hardware inclusion because it thinks users need to “move on” (think Firewire) but creates a design based on an old usage that isn’t even relavent any more (putting contacts on paper).

    I don’t think Metro is the end all or even something I might want to use all the time, but I give Microsoft credit for thinking differently.

  • TylerC

    You do realize that skeumorphism, which brings in a sense of history and ‘class,’ is exactly the sort of thing Steve was talking about when he said Microsoft didn’t put ‘culture’ into their products, right?

  • likethepear

    If you like Microsoft so much then why don’t you go to the Microsoft Store and see how “tasteful” they are. Pick up a Sony Vaio or a Dell and shut up. There’s nothing wrong with any of Apple’s apps. Period.

  • arsenic

    I totally agree with the article. Those designs are awful and should not come from Apple.
    I don’t know who designed Game Center in Mountain Lion but seriously, I wonder if there is one people on Earth who’ll dare to say it has taste.

  • pickme2

    Wow, Mike, you took a beating for this one. The only issue I have with your post it is including ‘it’s web site’. Maybe we need to give you a limited allotment of apostrophes and you’ll be more cautious in wasting them.

  • likethepear

    I just read an article on COM about a painting app that says the following:

    “Would you like to “brush up” on your painting skills? Practice drawing with colored pencils, pen and ink, water colors? How about acrylics, oils, or pastels. You can on your iPad with Art Set, a $0.99 app from developer LOFOPI.”

    Somebody better let Mike know. Fake painting!!!

  • bfred_it

    Apple’s new software design direction is incoherent at best. On one side we have extra-minimal black/white icons in iTunes and Finder, fresh from “back-the-Mac” Lion; on the other side we have leather+paper Calendar app.

    Apple just recently unified their apps design, (remember Leopard?) what’s going on again now?

    I don’t terribly mind Calendar’s “skin” but Podcasts’ interface goes in the way of function, which Metro (and, after all, the rest of your Mac) is all about.

  • Shyam Bhat

    This is what the web has been talking about for months now. But CoM never had the time off to write anything beyond how awesome iOS 6’ dynamic status bar is. I am glad at least one of you finally manned up and acknowledged the fact that Apple’s UI is consistently inconsistent.

    Skeuomorphism is great, but only to an extent. We’re not some people of the 60’s who’ve never seen cell phones and suddenly have an unfamiliar piece of gadget in our hands out of nowhere. We’ve gradually evolved and gotten comfortable with the idea of technology and digitization, even the most tech un-savvy ones of us. Even a four year old kid knows how to download the games he wants to play and beat the shit outta his friends online. What skeuomorphism is this kid going to relate to?
    Also, these (mostly mythical) people who absolutely do not understand technology , (but some real) like, say, my grand mom, wouldn’t be able to grasp the complete functinality, no matter how much skeuomorphism you pour into the UI. Besides, they form just a miniscule fraction of Apple’s targeted audience. I don’t see the sense in designing apps primarily keeping grand moms in mind.

    It’s nice for casual apps to have catchy interfaces. Think Voice recorder and Game Center. But apps that provide serious utility value like the Calender and Messages apps, in my opinion, need to be minimalist in design. Humans have been using digital versions of them on a daily basis for decades and we can safely say they won’t be perplexed by the complexity.

    The chameleon-like behavior of the status bar in iOS 6 is appalling, to say the least. Podcasts seems like it’s out there only to flaunt the reels. It fails miserably at functionality, which is another issue by itself. The inconsistency across apps is evident and the visuals in most of the apps, (pretty visuals, some may argue) make the app feel bloated and sluggish failing in their OS’s philosophy of a pleasing user experience.

    This article has a makes a clear statement – this time round, Microsoft has shown better taste in UI than Apple. Though the Windows Phone UI has it’s own share of pitfalls and none of us would still switch to an Windows phone by any stretch of imagination, the point here is that Apple, being Apple, could have done much better in this area.
    It is more prominent due to the fact that Microsoft has hit the right spot and exploited it, at a time when nothing, and absolutely nothing could make another phone even worthy of being compared to the iPhone.

    All in all, I’m happy to see a blog that otherwise takes any shit that Apple throws at them and treats it like gold, to have the courage to point it out to it’s rebellious audience and reiterate a burning issue that Apple needs to at least take note of, if not correct it.

  • bfred_it

    Also, here is an important piece of history: QuickTime 4 – Interface Hall of Shame
    http://hallofshame.gp.co.at/index.php?file=qtime.htm&mode=original

    “Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it”

  • eldernorm

    I totally agree with the article. Those designs are awful and should not come from Apple.
    I don’t know who designed Game Center in Mountain Lion but seriously, I wonder if there is one people on Earth who’ll dare to say it has taste.

    Your opinion is ….. your opinion. Like one design, hate another. Could it possibly be that Apple allows different designs in different places to allow us, the user, to input our opinions. They in a future release, they update those designs that are most universally disliked. Just the thing Apple might do.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, likes what it likes and you can get bent on what you like. Just buy their stuff and SU.

    And lastly, “If Apple is attempting “integration” from a design point of view, they have failed completely.
    If Apple wanted interface design with taste, and design that’s consistent with its own hardware design, it would create software designs that come from the same European minimalism.
    You know, like Windows 8.”

    Actually, I think Apple does great at integration. They developed the top tool bar and the bottom/side application bar and many of the specific design elements carry thru out the OS. However, yes specific apps have different looks. But if you like or dislike a specific app look, I would say….. too bad. Yes, maybe you should use Windows 8.. Just like how Windows 7 has the ribbon and a “new” look, drill down to a specific control panel window and you get the 10 year old Windows XP look to them. Why change things, just make pretty window dressing.

    OK, its a saturday. I need to get something real done. Everyone, have a good weekend.

  • Harold Kelly

    well you could have used the Cultcast from Cult of Mac as your Podcast example…that would have been smart!

  • jfutral

    “It comes from the same place as the Bauhaus design movement, which combines functionality with minimalism and eliminates extraneous decorative elements.”

    Invoking Bauhaus is a pretty gutsy move. Not sure that is what you really intended, especially from a reductionist (not minimalist) mis-representation of the Bauhaus philosophy, which has less to do with “taste” and more to do with a response to world wars, particularly the affects of nationalism.

    True, many Modern aesthetics are concerned with removing extraneous and useless ornamentation, especially those ornamentations and styles rooted in tradition. I would counter that many computer skeuomorphic designs, especially Apple’s, aren’t extraneous or useless. Apple is pretty consistent with the intent of providing visual cues and feedback as to how the user is interacting with a device or app. There really isn’t anything non-informative in the Podcast app interface. And all those actions would need some form of visual representation. I’m not sure what you would consider a “standard” interface to be in this case if not another form of skeuomorphic design or metaphor.

    Apple also has a history of paying homage to the past (very un-Modern like) and they have done so with the reel to reel metaphor.

    However, I have no clue what is going on with the “Find my Friend” app except, as someone else mentioned, Apple’s consistent insistence on providing tactile simulacrums.

    In the case of your comparisons, I would lean more toward these “taste” references being a matter of qualitative preference and less quantitative analysis.

    joe

  • monstermasten

    I completely disagree. These are the details that makes me enjoy just looking at nearly every Native iPad App. But I respect your opinion, but I hope Apple won’t listen!

  • disruption

    Skeuomorphs have been around far before Apple… of which Winamp was a HUGE offender. Even when those skins were not skeudomorphs trying to find the microscopic targets hidden within the pretty obscure interfaces gave me pains. My main issue with anything trying to be pretty is that you have to hunt through the artistic rendering to see what features are turned into Easter Eggs because it is so difficult to trigger them.

    That said I think there is a great advantage to skeuomorphs because identifying exactly what application you are looking at is much easier. Also with skeudomorphs done correctly I have at least some clue what gestures to guess so I can accomplish my task.

    Currently I am quite fond of the look because it reminds me that these devices are indeed magical, providing me with virtual versions of all the things I could never afford as a kid. I like connecting with graphically interesting things emotionally as I spend so much time with them. The writer should perhaps get a sense of wonder instead of wanting some sort of T1000 view of the world where all data comes through looking the same. Although sometimes it feels Martha Stewart designed a device, a little kistch never hurt anybody.

    Really if it is so offensive there are replacements for everything on the App store and he can shove all the Apple apps in a folder on page 9 (except for maybe phone. I hope he doesn’t find a number pad too like the real world for his taste).

    On the Microsoft note… remember when File Manager was a file cabinet? I miss that thing.

  • monstermasten

    There’s a reason why apple is pushing 3 dimentional and tactile ‘looking’ interfaces for their latest apps. I wouldn’t expect someone writing from Cult of Mac with no direct link to Apple to understand the long term purpose of such an approach. Microsoft’s 2D Metro metaphor is oddly short sighted. In about 2 years the writer of this article will understand how off the mark he was with this article. I leave it up to the commenters here to speculate what kind of interface breakthroughs are in Apple’s development pipe that will instantly transform their “tasteless” UI’s into experiences that they can see with better ‘depth’ and, soon after, touch with better ‘sense’.

    Are you talking about the touch surface that let’s you actually feel the content?

  • Sm Edwards

    It’s for the 90% of people not the 10%

  • Blake_Erickson

    I’d argue it’s bad taste to rigidly and uniformly apply a single design aesthetic regime across all areas of the UI. what works for finding files (clear, uncluttered information), may not work for something that is supposed to be user-friendly and entertaining (like the game centre). I’m not suggesting the designs for Find My Friends, Game Centre, and Podcasts are perfect; I just don’t believe it would be good taste to have monochrome and Helvetia absolutely everywhere. Anyone who has been to a planned city or estate can tell you why it’s a bad idea.

  • JeanWil

    It’s a well-constructed text, well argued.
    And, really… really, I hope someone at Apple will take care about your arguments.

    Skeuomorphism in some flagships Apple UI design apps is confusing people because it’s the opposite of the idea of minimalism, pureness, simplicity… that drives Apple designs.

    Kitschy (retro) design elements that appears in Apple iOS or Mac OS X apps tends to break UI consistence/experience.

    Maybe Apple is missing a Jony Ive alter ego in software UI design, someone with global sight, able to polish that visual inconsistence ?

    It’s really confusing me too.

    JeanWil Moreau, France

  • nishiii

    I don’t mind the Notes app for iOS, but IMO the worst example of Apple going backwards with its design taste would have to be the Address Book in Lion. You use to be able to see the group list, contact list and contact details all at the same time and made it easy to use. For example, it really easy to quickly edit a contact and then copy them to any group. Now it’s all set on separate pages with a stupid bookmark.

  • rogifan

    Amazing that Steve would sign off on that crap. I remember some of his keynotes where he’d show charts that had fake wood grain 3D bars and awful colors. Nothing like their website or print advertising. Very strange.

  • rogifan

    There’s a reason why apple is pushing 3 dimentional and tactile ‘looking’ interfaces for their latest apps. I wouldn’t expect someone writing from Cult of Mac with no direct link to Apple to understand the long term purpose of such an approach. Microsoft’s 2D Metro metaphor is oddly short sighted. In about 2 years the writer of this article will understand how off the mark he was with this article. I leave it up to the commenters here to speculate what kind of interface breakthroughs are in Apple’s development pipe that will instantly transform their “tasteless” UI’s into experiences that they can see with better ‘depth’ and, soon after, touch with better ‘sense’.

    I assume you’re referring to haptic feedback. But why would I need that on a calendar or find my friend app?

  • rogifan

    When Jony Ive was asked about this dichotomy recently he fumbled through his answer basically saying his responsibility is hardware so he’s not connected to the software piece. But he certainly did not defend it. It was an awkward response to say the least. Do industrial designers ever get involved in software UI design. Maybe Apple needs some of Jony’s Magic on the software side.

  • Florian Menevis

    Well, taste will always remain subjective but there are two crucial things that Apple has acheived:

    1) Uniqueness – Apple’s style is unique and distinct from every other company. Whether you like Apple and its design or not, you would always be able to recognize it instantly.

    2) Whether you like the style or not, the UI as such is still effective and very easy to understand. The use of icons and metaphors just make it clear what elements in the UI will do, the dimensional depth separates buttons vers clearly from the background.

  • volodoscope

    The problem is with people who remember these things, it’s only them comparing the physical object to an interface. For example, I’ve never used or seen a tape player in real life, but when I use podcast app it makes me like it more than a generic, button-filled space. Although I might not know what are the things in the big wheels are I still appreciate great design, interaction and it being memorable. Now when I think of podcast I picture that interface. It sticks with me. Same thing with other 3D-ish looking apps, they all connect after a while and I remember them pretty clearly.
    Although Metro UI is sleek looking, just like what glass did for Vista, it will do the same for Windows 8: it will get old and out of style pretty fast. I don’t think minimalism means that the whole UI is empty and has only helvetica and simple gray colors, Apple is more minimal at every level than Microsoft ever was. The new generation will remember these 3D interfaces and still connect with them, just like the older generation who actually used those 3D objects remember them as well. I would research more about user experience and interaction, even if the UI mimics something of a natural world, if it does it well and let the user accomplish the maximum amount of work or finish a task, then it works.

  • ianmatteson

    This post STINKS. Don’t try to force your opinon of style or taste on me. I see you like writing about macs and PC’s but this is cult of mac not cult of MicroBlowMe.

  • Redd_Kryten

    I don’t have a problem with these designs. When the iPad was first released, people made a big deal of how toddlers and old people were able to use it easily. Part of this was due to the interface.

    Humans are tactile creatures, we intuitively understand how to read a book,how to move the pages. Looking through a file on the other hand does not come naturally. Apple mimics natural thing and in doing this it feels easier to use.

  • Demonstr8r

    I sorta of agreed with you until the point when you mentioned Microsoft’s good taste in the Metro UI, which I believe was inspired by Fisher-Price or Mattel.

  • starbuck1504

    I have some empathy with the author on this. Faux leather, green felt, ripped yellow paper themed apps make the platform look tacky. Also, it really doesn’t blend with the rest of the OS which is primarily grey.

    Apple is successful because of the fantastic hardware and overall product integration. Not because of gaudy software. At least Apple should give us more of a choice and allow people to turn these novelty themes on or off.

  • applesandsynths

    Gotta say, this terrible, opinionated writing is making me like Cultofmac less and less each day. Keep aiming for Brownlee’s crown, chief.

  • ronjiedotcom

    LINK BAIT!

    You’re such a professional link bait, aren’t you? Cult of Mac must love you for it.

    Anyways, the hardwares are designed as such to be the blank canvasses that they were intended to be. They are also intended to be beautiful so as to sell; Apple makes boatloads of money on hardware. You didn’t know that, did you?

    Now Apple’s skeumorphic software – mostly free, and mostly with plenty of alternatives out there – is the art on that blank canvas. If you don’t like their software art – which is fine because it’s all about YOUR personal taste after all – well you can go ahead and get other software. Other art to put on their blank canvasses. The new OS X will just be $20 (you didn’t know that, too?), and maybe bundled with iLife. iOS updates and many Apple software are free.

    So if you like Windows better, you can install that on your beautiful Mac hardware, too. It’s all about what YOU want, and what YOU think, after all because it’s YOUR hardware. It’s not OURS. Freak.

    Consider the alternative: maybe you’re the type who likes a pink laptop with all the stickers on it. Oh, and it runs the very beautiful Windows 8!

    I think it’s not that Apple has lost some of its good taste while Microsoft has gained some. I think it’s that their taste in design is now different from yours. In the same way that some people like Justin Beiber music, some people don’t, and some people have outgrown Justin Beiber music. Apple’s software design has evolved, and it has outgrown your taste.

    LINK BAIT!

  • Gregory Walsh

    The metro ui might be fundamentally great design but for me it’s terrible.

    And the podcasts ui is the least of its problems. It’s a beta product with half it’s features broken or not working as intended. I really hope a big update is coming soon cause if it worked as intended its fantastic.

  • Stephen Lubberts

    REALLY?? Give me a fucking break. What’s wrong with having some cool graphics? A desktop that looks like an actual desk? Do you have anything critical to say about Retro Fifty’s design, when everybody tried making things look like they came from the future?
    I read all of the first three paragraphs before deciding the rest was hogwash. How much is Microsoft paying you for this?
    fyi I’m a PC user, I adore Macs, try to read interesting articles with actual helpful content, and criticize losers around the world whenever I can. Not saying that you’re one. Not saying that at all. Not out loud, anyway.

  • leaferic

    I agree! I love Apple’s functionality, but can’t stand the skeumorphic looks they’ve come up with. If it works for grandma fine, but give me a choice of a design that isn’t so mentally intrusive.

  • kmart27

    This is one of the most ridiculous and arbitrary articles I have read in a long time. I’m embarrassed for Mike and Cult of Mac. Must be an extremely slow news cycle. Give me a break.

  • APPL13D5C13NC3

    I’m 28 and know what a reel to reel tape player is and happen to love the design on the app. its retro and cool and groovy. i dig it.

  • batoprosic

    Microsoft Metro doesn’t use Helvetica…it’s Myriad Pro Light…it’s not swiss at all :)

  • thehighesttimes

    Personally I have no problem with the podcasts interface, I think it’s beautiful and cool of them to attend to the appearance of something you’re not going to spend even a minute looking at: You listen to podcasts, you don’t stare at the screen as it plays. Not to mention the app itself isn’t fully complete.

    In other cases though, such as with the Calendar app, I kind of agree. I don’t think consistency is an issue as each app serves a different purpose but the appearance itself is kind of annoying. Although, not to the point where I’m going to get all pissy about it. Any way you look at it, it’s a matter of opinion. Apple knows that, and if you know what you’re doing you can change that shit to make it look however you want anyway.

    By the way, I’m 20 and know full well what a tape-reel looks like and how to use one.

  • I_am_Andy

    I think that you are wrong.
    We really love the look and feel of MacOS.
    Everything is ‘special’.

  • I_am_Andy

    My 12 years old son prefers MacOS.
    And really do you think that Metro looks nicer?

  • ifuckyourmind

    Ironically everything the author is critizizing on Apples design is the reason why I love and adore their apps, their OS’ – it is that “special thing” their design has and I bet everything I own that the majority of users are in my boat, too. From the icons to the apps over to the templates – everything in a Apple app is about gorgeous design with a love for even the smalles details. If Apple would jump for that horribly “Metro” design or in other ways “simplify” their stuff , I would immediately stop using Apple products . Microsoft had never taste, not in XP, not in Vista, not in 7 and Windows8 leaves me just speechless for its complete uglyness.

  • MrSarcy

    Whiner. I’ll take a bit of torn paper in a calender app in my stride. An entire steaming shitpile of an OS, obsessed with glass and flying folders however…

  • TauZer0

    I actually love the skeumorphic design on the new Podcasts app (my only gripes with that app are how easily it will use up ur 3G data plan if u leave automatic downloading on, and how SLOW it is…). Design-wise, it is beautiful and seems to fit in nicely with the hardware design philosophy that descends from Dieter Rams’ work.
    That being said, I should note that the faux-leather apps and other torn-paper apps don’t strike me as beautiful. Especially when it startedtrailing off into the Mac.

    Metro does look like a fresh start for Microsoft and I must say its minimalism looks really good to me. Not so sold on how its implemented, but the look is indeed nice.

  • t87

    What an absolutely BOGUS article!

  • PhilRead

    Instagram anyone? It seems a good example of skeuomorphic design by coupling digital sharing with metaphor, mood or an over-romanticized past. Yet photographic filters that mimic analog artifacts (originally undesirable) just sold for $1billion. Maybe this says more about Facebook quickly becoming this decade’s AOL.

  • i_bad_apple

    so when microsoft cuts off half the word in a heading – thats taste? or when icons bounce around and faces suddenly appear – thats taste? Skeuomorphic isn’t just about “making cheep things look expensive”. its about providing context. computers use a “desktop” interface – thats skeuomorphism – desk tops don’t exist in computers – strings of 1′s and 0′s do. the desktop is used to allow humans to understand relate and interact with the computer. I like a lot of what apple is doing. i don’t like when every single application looks alike – it get boring. and lets face it – most of the stuff on small mobile phones ends up being lists. lists of contacts, lists of songs, lists of to-do’s. its nice every once and a while to see something that isn’t a boring list.

  • technochick

    Once again Mike pushes his personal feelings about something as if he represents everyone or has some great authority and knowledge to dictate what opinions folks should have. All of which is false.

    I suspect that if Mike were to do a survey or more than the staff of Cult of Mac and his besties, he’d find that most folks aren’t bothered by Apple’s design. Either they treat it as white noise and basically ignore it. Or given their fear of tech they actually like the design because those ‘awful’ bits make it more friendly

  • technochick

    . We’re not some people of the 60’s who’ve never seen cell phones and suddenly have an unfamiliar piece of gadget in our hands out of nowhere.

    Perhaps not you. But what about the two year olds, or even more so the 80 year olds. My 102 great grandfather picked my iPad up off the table, started punching buttons and had figured a lot out on his own. He had never had a computer, cell phone etc. hell his tv was an old CRT until just a couple of years ago when it finally died, and he still doesnt have cable. Well didn’t, he just moved into a semi assisted living complex and they have cable in the lounge, as well as wifi. Folks ask him if his iPad is had to use and he says no, cause ‘it looks like shit you already use’. THOSE ate the people Apple designed the UI for, not stuck up technosnobs like you and Mike

  • technochick

    My 12 years old son prefers MacOS.
    And really do you think that Metro looks nicer?

    And let’s not forget that few have really used Metro. What will it matter if it’s ‘prettier’ if folks don’t like, or can easily use, the UI.

  • technochick

    There’s nothing more tired than hearing a fanboy complain about how his desires haven’t been forced on everyone else.

    You just summed up Mike Elgan in one sentence. If its not UI, it’s software features, policies, hardware they ‘must’ release etc. Mike is a total fanboy, of himself and his view of how great he is

  • Nicolas Rivera

    Poor Mike Elgan, looks like shit has gone up your head…PLEASE never EVER again do an article for COM, you just screwed your self here….

  • stephenminton

    It’s obviously a matter of taste, because Microsoft’s Metro design leaves me very cold

  • Tim Lawrence

    I’ve always felt this way too. I don’t even regard Apple as having great industrial design. Their products are horribly designed from the functional and durability aspects. The shells dent and bubble extremely easily, power cords split easily and catch on fire (how many times have they redesigned the adapter end?), the list goes on and on. I’ve actually been scolded at an Apple Store by a genius at the bar for not wrapping my power cord properly (I was getting a replacement because mine had split and started to smoke). Sorry, I don’t have to wrap my power cord a certain way with my PC-based laptop.

    Form never follows function at Apple. It’s solely form-based and that is where Apple’s greatest failure is. That also is the reason why Apple latches on to this ridiculous Skeuomorphic graphic design. They are obsessed with fictitious looks and form, but not function, by any means.

  • Claude Hénault

    Skeuomorphism: Apple does it for the TV advertising.

    When you are using a 30-second spot to sell an electronic gadget to a naive and sometimes fearful audience, you need a communications device that is quicker and more subtle than words: a familiar image in an unfamiliar context.

    So you get a calendar that looks like the paper product. It says, this device has a calendar, just like the ones you know how to use.

    So you get wooden shelving laden with a variety of books. That says, you can have many books with you, and they are easily to locate, pick up, and read. They come in colour and mono. This technology is not scary, it is familiar, go for it without fear. This is not a message you want to say in words, but you want to say it.

    Apple sacrifices some aesthetics (in the eyes of some beholders) in exchange for precious communication.

    Forgive them, for they know what they do.

  • ObjCMacGuy

    Here is where the author of this goes wrong –
    As a Windows programmer for 10-11 years (now a Mac programmer for over 1 year) – I must say that there never was a good way to develop good apps in Windows (Never period) – I used C#/Delphi/VB and mix of other tools- and about the only thing you could do was convert a flash app to load inside a Windows App – with cross communication to make it look good.

    Windows never had the ability to make apps look good..period..if you wanted to even design a good app, you really were messing with a horrible OS-

    They have WPF for C# now – which greatly improved the capability- but come on…decades later..the only reason you see some what good apps like in Windows 8 – is that it was designed that way by default- they don’t give you much room for creativity- at all-

    I am simply blown away with the ease and beauty of MAC since I switched about a year ago- I always hated the default look of Windows- and simply to be honest- was a nightmare to even fix- and I have products I built that have 1Million+ users- and they were a brutal struggle to build…horrible nightmare

  • Anthony Ross

    “The company’s Podcasts app, released in June, actually shows a reel-to-reel tape playing while the podcast is running. Do people under the age of 30 even know what a reel-to-reel tape player is?”

    Really? When I was a kid, in the 1960s, I saw images of a Gramophone and knew what it was, and by then it’s been decades since their use. If I were under 30 I’d take offense to being labeled ignorant.

    If you’re under 30 hit agree and let him know he’s an idiot.

  • pattman

    what you describe there is called style design and sex! and that’s what apple is famous for! i mean little things like ripped paper in the calendar … that’s the way to go! that’s what we love about apple!
    that and … it just works!

    p.s.: you are square … like the windows symbole

  • Eric Moore

    You can “reskin” iCal and Address Book. Here’s how:

    http://macnix.blogspot.com/2011/07/change-mac-os-x-107-lion-ical-skin-to.html

  • GMacThoy

    I love it when people use fact-like statements about their opinions. It shows that they didn’t conceive the possibility of happy disagreement.

    I like it when software tries to look like some artifact of the real world. If it didn’t, in some way, we’d have nothing but buttons with labels. Outdated references are a part of the culture. If a user has no idea what a reel-to-reel tape deck is, perhaps there’s a chance to learn a little about the past. Perhaps not. But to just leave it all blank or decorate it in late 90′s asian computer component factory box graphics which serve NO purpose is WAY worse. And look! Everyone’s Save button still looks like an old floppy disc.

    And, sorry, but this article uses “taste” as the adjective du jour? Taste? What the * is “tasteful”, anyway? There is no tech wonk on EARTH who knows what is and is not tasteful.

  • homeonline

    I prefer the Skeuomorphic look.

  • ddevito

    Couldn’t after more. Great article.

    Sincerely,
    The World’s Biggest Android Fan

  • Tallest_Skil

    Sincerely,
    The World’s Biggest Android Fan

    So shut up and go away; how’s that sound? This isn’t your website. Why you idiots think you have the right to post here is way beyond me. The article doesn’t even have anything to do with Android, and yet here you are, crapping on everything and everyone.

    Get bent.

  • Tim Miller

    I agree that a lot of apple’s skeumorphic designs are bad, ie game center’s green felt, or iCal’s fake leather binding, are absolutely horrific, and rather annoying to look at, but I just can’t agree that the metro interface is designed well either.

  • artbycruz

    Skeumorphism works to an extent. I actually agree with the writer; simple, Apple is losing focus. There are fundamentally bad design choices in many of their skeumorphic apps. Many Apple fans defending those bad choices are doing so with Apple goggles glued to their faces.

    For a quick example, the Podcast app waste a considerable amount of screen space for ornamentation (reels, tape, etc.) Apple put flash over substance instead of balancing the two. There’s no doubt something can look have skeumorphic elements and not detract from functionality— but to carelessly add these said elements to an extent that it’s a hindrance is just everything Apple should not be.

    Microsoft’s approach to Metro is basically the exact opposite as compared to Apple’s. They’ve recognized that your phone/tablet does not offer the same interactive principles as a tape recorder, address book, etc. So instead, the idea is to represent those said items with the best functionality garnered to the actual device itself.
    Is it for everyone? Of course not. Is it wrong? Absolutely not. It’s actually an evolution for our devices…

  • tarkwather

    Apple taught me how important the design is for a product. There is a lot of thought that goes into their designs which is why a 60 year old and a 10 year old can use apple products with minimal or no assistance. Design of a product does not conform to its looks alone.

  • NickHarper

    Skeuomorphism? Isn’t the whole digital world based on it? The whole idea of pushing clicking dragging and loading something? Isn’t the company named as Windows reflecting an idea of faking something in their UI?
    This is how it works and people will always be transfer their real life and actions into the virtual world. It’s only question how could we save a wonderful experience of natural things here. Skeuomorphism? Why not?

  • wesleyvercammen

    Apple design nowadays is awful! I Know this because my dad likes it.

  • Joseph_Jin

    It’s about sensual experience, not “taste”.

    In a flat-screened and virtual environment, can you create an overall impression of physicality? Apple’s visual designs, skeuomorphic or not, all have subtle indications of touch and feel.

    The skeuomorphism is just one aspect of how Apple makes “physical” contact with the user. This creates a sense of intimacy, ownership, bonding, and emotional attachment.

    I think this is a reason why, on the average, Apple products stimulate more engagement and activity than those of other brands. The physicality of it all is important. In effect, your Apple device becomes your “baby”.

  • Kenton Presbrey

    Taste is Subjective.

    I’m sure Apple’s skeuomorphic designs have a lot to do with them attempting to make the computer more approachable, familiar and friendly.

    If you think that Microsoft has good taste…Please refer to the Ribbon interface.

    And to suggest that Metro is somehow “good design” because it uses Helvetica is absolute blasphemy.

  • omt111

    APPLE, Leica, StuderRevox, Nagra21, Braun, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi Volkswagon ARE YOU GETTIN’

  • omt111

    Dieter Rams(Braun), Hartmut Esslinger(FROG design), Jony Ives r u gettin it!!
    These are not three different approaches to product designs ! And we
    Know them as Apples…..

  • Sandman619

    Apple is constantly trying new design concepts. Since these designs change with every new version of their OS, these are often temporary as they try new design concepts. When OS X was relatively new, iTunes appeared with a metal interface rather than OS X’s standard Aqua interface, ie big pulsing candy-like buttons on a plastic style interface resembling the early iMacs

    With the introduction of iOS, Apple seems to be trying some new concepts, which includes designs based on the more familiar paper & pen designs. This makes Apple’s iOS feel more familiar to many people who are used to paper planners & is an attempt by Apple to help people who are less technology proficient feel more comfortable with using a digital planner. Many apps strive to accomplish this with old-style paper page turns, ripped paper & even lined-out lists. This is a direct lesson from the earliest bank ATMs. Although the lines were shorter, meaning less time spent at the bank & transactions were simple to accomplish, banks found that most customers had little interest in using them. Over time, this seems to be changing as people became used to the idea of automated tellers

    Much of their design work is attributable to making technology more accessible to the general, non-tech user

    Cheers !

  • Sandman619

    So where does microsoft’s Ribbon user interface fit in. Simplicity ?
    Swiss design ?
    How about ugly & confusing

    Cheers !

  • John Mapley

    Funny how any article that dares to question the ways of the mighty Apple creates such an insta-shitstorm.

    I tend to agree with the author – the decorations on iCal and Address Book are one thing, but the new (and long (many years) awaited) Podcasts iOS app is an example of form-over-function if I’ve ever seen one. You only have to look at the average star rating on the App Store (and also for many other official apps) to see that people are generally unsatisfied with the functionality of the app.

  • codefrenzy

    Wanna talk about bad taste? THIS is bad taste – http://www.geekwire.com/2012/raunchy-windows-azure-dance-routine/. You can thank Microsoft for that piece of theatrical genius.

  • JustDl Betty

    If you are just going to hate what Mac users like why don’t you LEAVE, plain and simple, what do you do wait for an Apple article to come and dump on any one who LIKES Apple? Go away. There is no need to polluted the coments with I came here to tell you why Apple is so bad, no one cares. Trolls.

  • JustDl Betty

    Did the author start a MS is better on the day Mountain Lion came out to product click bait. Not every classy.

  • Tallest_Skil

    Did the author start a MS is better on the day Mountain Lion came out to product click bait. Not every classy.

    1. This was written weeks ago.
    2. Dyslexia for cure found.

  • joewaylo

    Apple might have poor taste in UI designs, but they have better features than Microsoft.

    - More cloud features than Microsoft does.
    - Less expensive than Microsoft is at XBox and Windows applications: Always seen them at $30, $50 compared to $0.99, $4.99, $30 or less.
    - More Apple Store and iOS applications versus Microsoft and Android.
    - Annual feature enhancements versus 5 year increment enhancements.
    - They have a higher security record than Microsoft does.

  • MacFeedback

    It’s unbelievable that this factual truth had to wait for that long time to finally be recognized and pronounced by an (obviously bright) mind with also a public voice of reasonable reach.

    It’s so much spoken from the bottom of my hart that it almost feels like it somehow must have been ME that has written this article.

    YES YES YES, this most overseen APPLE-inherent contradiction between the superb hardware design and the totally inconsistent application-/GUI design is an unresolved conundrum to me and i always thought i’m the only one to see this.

    While to be fair it’s important to differentiate here: the *core* design concept of OS-X is highly attractive, wherever and whenever it is mono-colored, aluminum-styled and straight.

    Everything that is represented by the recent overdue move from the “classical liquid” scrollerbars to the new “iTunes”-like-bars is perfect and attractive and to my personal taste unrivaled (but please drop those default giant icons at the applications top bar, i’m not an idiot), while everything that is of the same breed as the tasteless calender-leather-i-did-not-find-the-proper-term-for-it is INCREDIBLE – awkward, kiddish, square, narrow-minded, old, anti-hip, and most of all: totally uncool.

    Please APPLE: get aware that APPLE products should also be attractive also to adult avantgarde-minded people, not only for Kids until the age of 6 and a stereotype Grandma and Grandpa that probably only exist in APPLE’s squared idea of that customer target group.

    I can truthfully swear: i feel embaressed anytime i have to click one of those oh-so-twee icons, disclosed to my audience by a merciless beamer any time i use my MacBookPro for presentations as an IT professional.

    I always help my self in that situation by reassuring myself silently that it takes a strong and independend character to do this without loosing a straight face or the respect of your audience – wherever i could not manage to design my own .icns-file-set!

    I know its against the APPLE Tao of principles to find the one and essential solution (that again a thing a love), but a pragmatic approach: give the “other” MacHeads a switch somewhere that reads: “cool” and everyone will be satisfied.

  • Pablo Martin Casas

    I think that the problem with skeumorphism in Apple is not really a problem but a solution. Most of the people are used to Microsoft Windows user interface. So, if Apple wants to do its OS as easy to adopt as possible, there are two ways: imitating Windows interfaces and functions, or using interfaces remembering physical objects so the people knows how to use it.
    Also using the skeumorphism Apple gets a much bigger market, including people not used to computers and old people.

  • Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg

    Shouldn´t this type of design be called more properly – SCREWOMORPHIC ?
    :-D

  • Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg

    Shouldn´t this type of design be called more properly – SCREWOMORPHIC ?
    :-D

  • IndigoRose272

    “gimme a break”
    “big fugly brushes”
    how professional…
    while you think apple looks cheesy, I honestly like the designs, they have a nice feel to them. Think about why people like steam punk, although we’ve moved on past that stage of needing all the cogs and gears, it’s nice to watch/read. same sort of idea with apple.

    I like both Apple and Microsoft

    and in my opinion the metro interface for a computer is honestly pretty bad, with tacky looking colours, I mean, for a tablet it’s probably fine but not for a PC
    with apple, the only things I really don’t like about it, are the ridiculous prices, and that iOS doesn’t allow for flash,
    other than that I think both companies have done pretty well and improving their products.

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Mike ElganMike Elgan writes about technology and culture for a wide variety of publications. Follow Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted in Apple, iOS, news, Opinions, Top stories |