It is expected that real-life textures, such as linen or felt, will be a thing of the past for Apple’s iOS and OS X interface. That’s because Jony Ive is the company’s new Head of Human Interface, and he is a proponent of minimalist design.
Ive added the new role to that of senior vice president for industrial design, a position he held since 1996. He is responsible for product design, hardware and software. He reports to Apple CEO Dennis Cook.
The Flight of Skeuomorphism
Prior to his departure from Apple this week, Scott Forstall was previously in charge of the iOS software. Together with the late co-founder Steve Jobs, Forstall was a strong advocate of skeuomorphism, which is a type of design that replicates real-world objects digitally.
However, there were claims that the new Head of Human Interface, Jony Ive, loathes skeuomorphism. This could mean Apple’s software will have significantly different look and feel in the future. As stated by one Apple designer to The New York Times:
You can be sure that the next generation of iOS and OS X will have Jony’s industrial design aesthetic all over them. Clean edges, flat surfaces will likely replace the textures that are all over the place right now.
On the other hand, it was speculated that Ive must work hard to win over Forstall “loyalists”. Former employees who were able to remain in the company have worked in software for a couple of years now, but they never saw Ive in a meeting.
The Arrival of Minimalist Design
A couple of skeuomorphic designs are helpful to users. The digital paper shredder, for instance, appears when deleting an item in Passbook for iOS 6. This design is said to be a “good way of reinforcing the idea that potentially sensitive information has been wiped from the device.”
However, there are design choices that have been criticized by various designers because of its irrelevant use of the product. This includes the felt, casino-style table top in Game Center, as well as the “Corinthian leather” that appears in the Find My Friends and Calendar applications.
For the past years, Apple has brought back many of its iOS design to the Mac platform. In fact, the Calendar, Game Center and Notes have the same look in both iOS and OS X Mountain Lion. Not to mention that the designs are based on real-life objects.
However, Ive is a proponent of minimalist design, which places functionality above everything else. As the new Head of Human Interface, he is expected to cut back on the “unnecessary flourish” that is still present in some of the company’s software design.