Apple software designers sick of doing things Steve Jobs’ way; ‘civil war’ said breaking out

“It is a touch shocking that Apple, of all companies, has something of an internal riot on its hands,” Nicholas Carlson reports for The Business Insider.

“The problem is something called skeuomorphism, which is when a software user-interface is designed in a way that mimics design from the offline, non-software world,” Carlson reports. “For example, the place where readers go to open up iBooks on their iPads looks like a bookshelf.”

Carlson reports, “Apple loves skeuomorphism because Steve Jobs loved it, and current software boss Scott Forstall dose [sic] too. But Austin Carr has a long story on Fast Company about how some of the designers who work for the company – including rock star designer Jony Ive – are sick of it, and that a ‘revolt’ is close to breaking out.”

Full article here.

Austin Carr reports for Fast Company, “If you’ve ever used an Apple product, you’ve experienced digital skeuomorphic design: calendars with faux leather-stitching, bookshelves with wood veneers, fake glass and paper and brushed chrome. Skeuomorphism is a catch-all term for when objects retain ornamental elements of past, derivative iterations–elements that are no longer necessary to the current objects’ functions.”

“”‘It’s visual masturbation,’ says one former senior UI designer at Apple who worked closely with Steve Jobs. ‘It’s like the designers are flexing their muscles to show you how good of a visual rendering they can do of a physical object. Who cares?’” Carr reports. “Inside Apple, tension has brewed for years over the issue. Apple iOS SVP Scott Forstall is said to push for skeuomorphic design, while industrial designer Jony Ive and other Apple higher-ups are said to oppose the direction.”

Carr reports, “But before Forstall, it was Steve Jobs who encouraged the skeuomorphic approach, some say. ‘iCal’s leather-stitching was literally based on a texture in his Gulfstream jet,’ says the former senior UI designer. ‘There was lots of internal email among UI designers at Apple saying this was just embarrassing, just terrible.’ …Some may wonder why designers would harbor such harsh feelings toward seemingly minor flourishes in UI design. But at Apple, where pixel-perfect standards are the norm, many designers believe skeuomorphism has significantly degraded the user experience.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What does Apple’s chief hardware designer Jony Ive think about Scott Forstall’s faux paper shredders, stitched leather, green poker table felt and other skeuomorphic software designs?

My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that’s our focus and that’s our responsibility. In terms of those elements you’re talking about, I’m not really connected to that. – Sir Jonathan Ive, May 23, 2012

Very diplomatic, Jony!

True ornament is not a matter of prettifying externals. It is organic with the structure it adorns… – Frank Lloyd Wright

Tell us what you think about Apple’s devotion to skeuomorphic graphical user interfaces below and in our poll in the left column of our main site.

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