We’ve known for centuries that the world is round. But Apple believes we’re ready for it to be flat.
Here’s what I mean. Back before average people had ever used one, Steve Jobs brought computers to the masses by making your experience using them feel as much like the real world as possible.
This approach is known as skeuomorphic design, and had been an integral part of Apple’s design philosophy since the beginning.
How is iOS 7 Different?
Does Apple’s switch to Flat spell the end of Skeuomorphism?
Take Pro Audio software plugins. They offer digital versions of analog compressors that sound engineers have used forever. The knobs and switches look and function exactly like the real deal, and a trained engineer will immediately know how to use them.
Originally, these visual metaphors made new-fangled touchscreens familiar and intuitive. As we’re now six years since the first iPhone, Apple is betting that people don’t need such a literal education to navigate their digital worlds.
It’s a logical progression. But will existing apps that we depend on or enjoy feel archaic to use? Should critics really be eulogizing skeuomorphism?
Over time, sure, we likely will rely less on real-world visual analogs to make our digital worlds more intuitive. But I doubt we will ever fully disconnect.
Not until you can make a camera icon better than a camera, a trash bin better than a trash bin, or a weather feed without sun, clouds, snow, and rain.