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Designers Criticize Apple's User Interface For OS X and iOS

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the how-many-devices-have-they-sold dept.

GUI 484

Hugh Pickens writes "Austin Carr notes that a number of user interface designers have become increasingly critical of Apple's approach to software user interface design. Much of their censure is directed against a trend called skeuomorphism, a term for when objects retain ornamental elements of the past that are no longer necessary to the current objects' functions, such as calendars with faux leather-stitching, bookshelves with wood veneers, fake glass and paper and brushed chrome. A former senior UI designer at Apple who worked closely with Steve Jobs said, '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?' The issue is two-fold: first, that traditional visual metaphors no longer translate to modern users; and second, that excessive digital imitation of real-world objects creates confusion among users. 'I'm old enough, sure, but some of the guys in my office have never seen a Rolodex in real life,' says Designer Gadi Amit. 'Our culture has changed. We don't need translation of the digital medium in mechanical real-life terms. It's an old-fashioned paradigm.' One beneficiary could be Microsoft, where the design of Windows 8 distances itself from skeuomorphism by emphasizing a flat user interface that's minimalist to the core: no bevel, no 3-D flourishes, no glossiness and no drop shadow."

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484 comments

Clearly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385387)

Apple isn't using Adobe products to design their stuff. As anyone in my marketing department will attest to, you need at least CS6 to professionally update a CMS.

"a number of user interface designers" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385403)

That's funny, because even though I don't much like Apple, I think that the "number of user interface designers" at Apple seem to have done fucking well at recognising what is easy to use.

Is this like the way people in the GNOME project arbitrarily assign themselves the role of "user interface designers" and fuck things up three ways to Nevada?

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (1, Insightful)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385455)

If I had to choose between the "skeumorphism" (fancy word) of OSx and iOS or the meh of windows 8, I,ll take the former thankyouverymuch.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (5, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385687)

Yeah, I was with the summary right up until it proposed Windows 8's mixed-up hash of an attempt to bolt a tablet UI and a desktop UI together as a superior alternative.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (-1, Troll)

tmosley (996283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385759)

I tried using a windows computer after being a Mac guy for the last 7 years, and I couldn't find a damn thing. Needed access to the control panel, and the quickest way in was like three or four clicks into a bunch of hidden menus. I've got my control panel on my sidebar--one click access, and even better, I get to CHOOSE what I want on there, and everything else is accessible through finder's sidebar within a couple of clicks. The only things I have to spend any time searching for are the files in big directory trees that I have dumped onto the desktop from one place or another, and I can search those from the top bar of finder.

If these tards don't like the UI, tell them to make a fucking skin and STFU.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385797)

Which version of Windows were you using? 'cause Windows 7 has the Control Panel button right there in the Start Menu. 2 Clicks.
And you can put anything on your quick start/task bar for 1-click access in any version of Windows that came out in the last decade and a half.
Your issues with Windows seem to be unfounded.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (1, Troll)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386021)

Except it rearranges them based on usage - very bad idea - and you can't expand the start menu the way you could in XP or even just drag it out so you can actually read the titles of programs...

You can stop trolling.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (4, Insightful)

crypticedge (1335931) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385833)

Even under the most retarded configurations the control panel in windows is at most 2 clicks away. If you can't click twice to get to something the average user shouldn't be messing with (and if you've seen the average user, mac or windows, you'll agree to that point) then you shouldn't be in it anyway. I find whenever I'm on a mac I can't find shit, spending 20 minutes trying to find it, and usually end up having to open up terminal to make a change because I know linux/unix systems significantly better. That is not a criticism of the UI, any lack of ability to find something in the most efficient way is always 100% the user not knowing the system.

A mac is no more intuitive, it's all about what you're used to.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (2, Interesting)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385981)

As you said, not knowing the OS is the problem. However, some things are clearly intended to distance OS X from Windows, while providing no usability improvement.
Just the other day, I spent some 45 seconds trying to delete a file the Windows way. First I realized there was no Delete key, which is annoying even if it's not strictly the OS' fault. So I tried backspace, seems like a logical alternative when you want to delete stuff. Nope, so I tried right-clicking and all sorts of weird click+button combinations I could remember.

Only then did I remember that you must absolutely drag files to the trash.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (4, Informative)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386023)

As you said, not knowing the OS is the problem. However, some things are clearly intended to distance OS X from Windows, while providing no usability improvement.
Just the other day, I spent some 45 seconds trying to delete a file the Windows way. First I realized there was no Delete key, which is annoying even if it's not strictly the OS' fault. So I tried backspace, seems like a logical alternative when you want to delete stuff. Nope, so I tried right-clicking and all sorts of weird click+button combinations I could remember.

Only then did I remember that you must absolutely drag files to the trash.

No you don't. Cmd+Backspace deletes them just fine.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386025)

I think command-delete is what you wanted.

It is just easier to open a terminal and use rm though.

At least that still works like it should.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (2)

ClicklyMan (2734081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386097)

If you use keyboards with delete key then you can use it. Otherwise you can use command-backspace.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385837)

Yet command-shift-4 space is a intuitive way to take a screenshot of a window?

OSX has its own pain points. Especially if you are coming from a X11 DE type background.
I installed vlc for instance, and yet vlc from the command line gets me nothing. Just an example that is easy to fix, but I should not have too.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (1)

ClicklyMan (2734081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386049)

command-shift-4 takes screenshot of an area you choose. It doesn't need to be a window.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385851)

Press the Windows key and type the first few letters of what you're looking for. Press Enter. There, now that wasn't so hard was it?

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385707)

No shit. They even invented the term "skeumorphism". I get the feeling that these are the same people who get into the extended pedantic edit wars on Wikipedia (like British English vs. US English spelling or whether Jesus' birthday should be noted in AD or CE). These people need to go something useful, preferably in a place that doesn't bother the rest of us. I'm sure they have some arbitration committee meeting that they need to attend about Spock's lineage.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (0)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385763)

I'd have to agree, Apple is pretty good about making their products easy to use to the unfamiliar user.
It's enough like Windows that some basic logic can be carried over, but when doing new things can be intuitive and figured out.

There are other issues as well (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385925)

At the top:

Apple's one-menu-to-serve-them-all approach is decidedly unfriendly when you have more than one monitor, as more and more of their machines come out of the box ready to operate with (and a machine like a Mac Pro can trivially be configured to run quite a few monitors.) But even a Mac Mini or a laptop will run two. What happens is that you're off on one monitor, you need a menu operation for the app you're working with, and the menu is 1,2 or perhaps six monitors of mouse-travel away. Menus on application windows make a great deal more sense.

Typists -- by which I mean people who really type a fair bit, like writers or serious programmers -- are not served well by Apple's low profile "chiclet" keyboards. Apple gets the shivers by making their devices thin; but this means that keystroke throw is short, and what we end up with is a mushy keystroke.

In the middle:

Apple's one-app-at-a-time system UI messaging approach means that you can only send keystroke events to the active application. So, for instance, were you to attempt to write program B to automate program A, and the user happens to be using program C, any attempt to control program B from program A will require you to shift the user's focus from program C to program B, which is decidedly unfriendly. Applescript's mechanism for automation requires activation of this app, then that app, which means that the user can't be trying to use the machine when the Applescript is running. Which is kind of a serious faux pas for what is nominally marketed as a multitasking machine.

There's no inter-program messaging paradigm other than the network. No named ports, etc. This also has severe implications for automation.

At the bottom:

UDP messaging is used to send network events in a broadcast manner. Apple's implementation of UDP only allows one program on a machine to bind to a UDP port, meaning that only one program on that machine can catch a broadcast -- which in turn means that if your implementation really needed a broadcast mechanism, you can't use UDP for it.

---

That's just a sampling of UI issues with the OS. Against these rather immediate problems, I find the whole issue of make-it-look-like-[object] to be silly.

Don't know what the [object] is? It's a one-time learning trip down memory (or history) lane, and you're up and running. Operation is easy, even if, lawd forbid, you had to learn something.

On the other hand, when you need to get at a menu across a bunch of monitors, you're kind of hammered. It's time to go hunt for a third-party fix. If you need to really type, it's time to go buy a keyboard from a third party. If you need broadcast, I hope someone warned you the UDP stuff is broken so you don't waste your time trying to use it. If you're trying to implement IPC, well... [hollow laughter] I bet you'll wish you were working under Amiga OS before you even get seriously started. And no, Applescript won't get you even close because of the above-mentioned application focus issues.

Re:There are other issues as well (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385991)

The keyboard comment is not fair as there are 0 computers sold with decent keyboards as far as I can tell.

Switch and spring based keyboards have all been replaced with mushy membrane based keyboards as standard on all PCs it seems.

Re:"a number of user interface designers" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385997)

Have they? I've always found that Apple's UIs are often fun to use because of the smoothness of them and fancy animation, but I've never found them to be well designed in terms of actual cold hard usability and productivity.

Their Windows applications fail at the most basic things, like adhering to common interface principles so that Windows users can use them without trouble - instead they try to force the alien Mac interface on Windows users which adds an extra level of annoyance.

It's been a while since I've used a Mac, but the traffic light style buttons in the top are meaningless to me, what does "Green" do? "Yellow"? "Red"? Window's minimise/maximise icons may be tricky for a new user, but the big fuck off red cross has always been pretty self explanatory at least.

iTunes often just makes no sense whatsoever, having any clue as to whether it's sync'd tunes with my iPod was always one hell of a battle, sometimes it'd just deleted music either from my computer or my iPod. I'm sure there was a good reason for that, I was told by an Apple fanboy it was mine and my girlfriend's fault for both using different iPods on the same login with iTunes though, so whatever the real reason was non-obvious.

Just yesterday I had an iPad app that needed to be restarted, pressing the single main button on the front of the device just seemed to put it into the background such that if I clicked it's icon, it came back in the same broken manner. I was told I needed to kill it completely (I thought you never needed to do that) and either pratting around for ages trying to find my way through Apple's "easy to use, just works" interface to find out how to do this I was told I just needed to press the round button with the square on it (what the fuck does that even symbolise?) on the front twice as if I was double clicking to bring up some taskbar from where I could kill it.

I'm not new to computers, I have decades of experience, my experience might possibly have been moulded to Windows/Linux but seriously, if someone like me who gets deep computing concepts can't figure out how to do sometimes simple tasks on Apple's interfaces then the beginner has no hope.

Honestly, usability is not something Apple does well, its the wow factor they pull off well and it's that that sells their interfaces. Apple's problem is that it focus too much on the visual, and stimulative human response to interfaces - i.e. keeping everything following a standardised type style guide, and producing fancy animations, but very little on actual cold hard usability and productivity.

Skeu (5, Informative)

CheShACat (999169) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385405)

http://skeu.it/ [skeu.it] has some cracking examples and a good bit of snark to boot.

Re:Skeu (5, Interesting)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385533)

Actually, I found some of the webpages in the pics very well done. Let's take for example the burger menu webpage. It's simple, elegant and probably the best done choose what items you want on a burger, just because it's so simple.

Re:Skeu (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385635)

Some of them are okay, but the one with the clipboard sewn into a hardwood floor is pretty hilarious :)

Apple patented bad design too (4, Funny)

gelfling (6534) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385413)

Silence, citizen or Apple will send its flying monkeys to sue you.,

Re:Apple patented bad design too (3, Insightful)

Zimluura (2543412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385477)

with all the patent litigation, slashdot should really get a rotten apple picture for these stories.

Re:Apple patented bad design too (3, Funny)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385701)

Silence, citizen or Apple will send its flying monkeys to sue you

My eyes are still a little fuzzy from sleep and that looked like it said ..."Apple will send its flying monkeys to use you..."

Metro? (4, Insightful)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385415)

I agree with the point that using faux object representations is cheap, wastes space, and can be lost on people for sure. But to go for Metro as an example of good design? Sorry, I'd take cheap wood and leather graphics with gradient overlays and shadow underlays any day of the week over that.

Re:Metro? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385665)

I agree, it's like there's only fucking extremes, in everthing from UI design to the political arena. Damn you dirty apes, the Universe is full of moderate compromises -- Existence is a middle-ground! You can't just bounce back and forth between stop and full throttle -- No one will ever give you a warp drive at this rate!

Re:Metro? (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386035)

Agreed. I've not really played with Windows 8 much yet but I installed Visual Studio the other day and my first question was, why the flying fuck are the menus shouting at me in capital letters? Who ever thought that was a good idea and looked good or somehow improved the user experience?

The icons etc. look awful, the solution explorer which previously had nice familiar icons that you could often pick out from the hints of colour on them are now bold black lined pieces of fairly nonsensical shit.

It's like such a step back, it's like an interface from the 80s. It's fucking horrible, if Windows 8 makes the whole damn OS look like this, then no fucking thank you.

And designers are never wrong (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385419)

We all know that self-described UI designers are never wrong when it comes to making things intuitive and easy to use.

*cough* *gnome* *cough*

Easy to prove or disprove (1, Troll)

martijnd (148684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385423)

The minimalist verses skeuomorphism assertion has been made a few times already. Its quite easy to prove right or wrong.

Simply design a calender or contact app that follows your new "modern" design methodology.

If it beats the crap out of Apple's existing app because its so much better that people download it in droves to use it you have won, and you are rich(er).

Re:Easy to prove or disprove (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385571)

The minimalist verses skeuomorphism assertion has been made a few times already. Its quite easy to prove right or wrong.

Simply design a calender or contact app that follows your new "modern" design methodology.

If it beats the crap out of Apple's existing app because its so much better that people download it in droves to use it you have won, and you are rich(er).

It is an interesting thought experiment but doesn't take the target market into account. The people who prefer good functionality before shiny but useless design isn't likely to use Apple in the first place. It also doesn't factor in that while a modern functional design could have a higher value the difference in value might be less that the time it takes to test a new app.
All in all i think that the RDF-factor will skew the result of such a test too much to make it meaningful.

Re:Easy to prove or disprove (1, Troll)

tmosley (996283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385783)

The people who prefer good functionality before shiny but useless design isn't likely to use Apple in the first place.

Ha. Haha. Hahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Mod parent HILARIOUS.

So many things to criticize... (5, Insightful)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385435)

So many things to criticize about Apple's UI direction (the tabletization of OS X, for example), and they criticize the thing Apple is doing right.

People like old fashioned aesthetics. Nobody had a need to use a sundial these days, but many people still decorate their yards with them. Seeing a wood bookshelf with real books stacked looks pretty and people see it as part of Apple's software polish.

Re:So many things to criticize... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385595)

This story has been posted before. Regardless, I doubt many users are upset about the appearance of a couple of minor applications. This isn't some widespread problem typical of Apple UI design.

Too minimalist (5, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385443)

The Windows 8 UI is too minimalist. The flat squares look dull and amateurish. The Aero interface has just the right amount of little extra spice here and there.

Re:Too minimalist (1)

Quakeulf (2650167) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385623)

Too minimalist? I bet the majority on Slashdot navigate purely by CMI. I know I like my CMI. You don't like CMI? Fine. Have it your way.

Re:Too minimalist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385821)

It's not a typo if you say it three times. It's an indication that you don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

Re:Too minimalist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385839)

I still can't get my head round Microsoft spending so much time and money convincing us that Aero is so amazing that we should go out and buy more powerfull hardware to experience it, then with a wave of the hand give us something that would have looked clunky on Windows 1.0.

What the fuck is it with the fluff? (3, Insightful)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385453)

Really? There's so much to criticize about Apple's design, like OSX's big and cluttered dock versus a tradicional taskbar, and they go straight for the superfluous fluff? Who cares about the icons? They are just fucking icons, replace them if you want to! What the hell happened to functionality in this world? It's like no one cares anymore, and "design" only means "making shit look fancy".

Re:What the fuck is it with the fluff? (1, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385491)

You think the dock is cluttered but the Windows task-bar is the epitome of awesome? what drugs are you taking? The Windows and all linux variants of the taskbar is a cluster turd of clutter. Yes the Dock is cluttered a bit, but no where near as cluttered as the mess that windows and Linux has going on.

Re:What the fuck is it with the fluff? (2)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385747)

Not the point I was trying to argue, but ok: first of all, the dock isn't just a Mac issue. Since Windows 7 the taskbar has been "dockified", with pinned, textless icons (though it's easy to revert it to a more classic mode) and Linux has had all sorts of docks and taskbars for quite some time, now. My opinion isn't about OSs, it's mainly about docks. It just happens that OSX has not a lot of options other than its main dock, which leads me to explain my point of view: the taskbar is more useful because it conveys more information (like what document is open in a particular instance of a program), text is easier to read than icons, it takes less vertical space while still being visible and accessible, can comfortably host menus and widgets... I could go on with my particular point of view, but my point was, and still is, that such sort of difference is much more important than if the book icon features leather bindings or not.

Re:What the fuck is it with the fluff? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385879)

but no where near as cluttered as the mess that ... Linux has going on.

Linux has everything from "cluttered mess" to ratpoison which is about the most minimalist "desktop" you could have.

Re:What the fuck is it with the fluff? (1)

tmosley (996283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385795)

You do realize that the dock is customizable by click and drag, right? It isn't exactly rocket science.

The debate is moot. (5, Insightful)

imagined.by (2589739) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385461)

Seriously, as a designer myself I can only shake my head when I read stuff like this.

It may be true that "traditional visual metaphors no longer translate to modern users", but what about older users? Should we just dismiss their needs? Are interfaces really encumbered because they feature a wood-textured background?

Also, I challenge you to come up with a symbol for saving files without using a diskette or something like that. These symbols have transpired from metaphors of real objects to metaphors of actions, and people who have never even seen a diskette learn their purpose by context. Granted, this creates a certain standard by convention, and you could argue that any symbol could be used for that. But again, that would dismiss the users who grew up with that symbol. Currently, everybody is happy, why challenge this?

Imho, articles like this and blogs like skeu.it are just cleverly-disguised marketing by Microsoft. Ask any designer, and they'll tell you that well-used skeuomorphisms are not problematic, but even necessary to reach most of your target audience.

Re:The debate is moot. (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385539)

Should we just dismiss their needs?

'Need' is quite an interesting term to use when discussing faux leather stitching on a calendar app.

Of course, I disagree with this UI designer as I think it is important to provide visual clues in an icon that denotes its purpose/function. If it helps people realize that the icon with a Month and the number 31 is a calendar, well, then it does serve a purpose.

I'm not knocking you, I just thought the concept of considering older person's needs when referring to this topic was just an amusing phrase.

Re:The debate is moot. (5, Interesting)

imagined.by (2589739) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385755)

Fair point, the use of the word need seems misplaced. English is not my native tongue ;) What I wanted to express is the following.

I handed my 83yr old , technical-illiterate grandma an iPad and she was able to use most of the apps because they resembled physical devices she knew.

Of course she doesn't "need" to use a digital calendar, or even an iPad. But that device and ample use of skeuomorphisms are enabling her to participate in a lot of places which were inaccessible for her before. It makes a lot of people feel familiar with usually (for them) almost frightening devices.

This is empowerment, and as long as nobody else is hindered I think the debate is quite pointless.

Re:The debate is moot. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385607)

Clever design by Microsoft? I would rather attribute it to hipsters who have discovered a new word.

"NetHack - now bringing you procedurally generated levels!"

Re:The debate is moot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385695)

challenge accepted: a downward pointing arrow which is already a common enough metaphor for "download" and to todays users there's not a lot of difference between downloading something and saving it.

It might not work for your users, and it might not work for apple users - but it would seem it does work for some people already, and probably makes a lot more sense than those black (sometimes blue) square which no one under the age of 30 has seen, much less used. To argue the diskettes relevance as a metaphor for 'save' makes a much sense as using a tape-reel icon for backups!

Re:The debate is moot. (2)

imagined.by (2589739) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385787)

Using a symbol which is widely accepted for another mechanism doesn't work: It introduces ambiguity which is very undesirable.

For me personally, I don't even want symbols. I'm perfectly fine with text. However, that's not how most people work, unfortunately.

Re:The debate is moot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385957)

challenge accepted: a downward pointing arrow which is already a common enough metaphor for "download" and to todays users there's not a lot of difference between downloading something and saving it.

It might not work for your users, and it might not work for apple users - but it would seem it does work for some people already, and probably makes a lot more sense than those black (sometimes blue) square which no one under the age of 30 has seen, much less used. To argue the diskettes relevance as a metaphor for 'save' makes a much sense as using a tape-reel icon for backups!

What if you're saving your document to the cloud? I don't think a downward facing arrow would make much sense in that case. Maybe a diskette icon isn't any better in that case either, but I think its not as simple as you might think.

Re:The debate is moot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385713)

Also, I challenge you to come up with a symbol for saving files without using a diskette or something like that. These symbols have transpired from metaphors of real objects to metaphors of actions, and people who have never even seen a diskette learn their purpose by context. Granted, this creates a certain standard by convention, and you could argue that any symbol could be used for that. But again, that would dismiss the users who grew up with that symbol. Currently, everybody is happy, why challenge this?

I'm not sure if I should admit this publicly, so I'm posting anonymously.

The ubiquitous "floppy disk" graphic for Open and "folder" graphic for Save is something I only grokked consciously early this year.

I've been using computers in one form or another since the early 1980s, and I got used to seeing a seemingly random spray of icons in toolbars that I filtered them out for decades, and instead learned keyboard shortcuts for load/save. What's wrong with the text "OPEN" and "SAVE"?. This is one of the reasons I could never use a Mac, I'd get too frustrated with a screen full of dozens of icons I'd have to reinterpret the meaning of.

Apple really have something to answer for, and whichever of their employees first picked two randomly filesystem related icons to mean only sideways related specific tasks should be shot.

Re:The debate is moot. (1)

imagined.by (2589739) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385817)

Some people work better with symbols, which is why they were introduced. They're language-agnostic devices which enable more people to use your hard- or software.

Oh and btw, maybe you mixed it up, but the floppy disk translates to saving and the folder to opening ;)

Re:The debate is moot. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385723)

Also, I challenge you to come up with a symbol for saving files without using a diskette or something like that.

an icon with two red parallel upright rectangles slightly spaced apart from each other, a.k.a. the record icon

Re:The debate is moot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385985)

Also, I challenge you to come up with a symbol for saving files without using a diskette or something like that.

an icon with two red parallel upright rectangles slightly spaced apart from each other, a.k.a. the record icon

I thought record was a red circle? Isn't two parallel rectangles the pause icon? Although I seriously love the idea that saving your work is metaphorically equivalent to pausing your VCR or tivo or whatever. I'm not being sarcastic, I think its a brilliant idea in terms of alternate metaphors for common things.

Re:The debate is moot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385811)

Also, I challenge you to come up with a symbol for saving files without using a diskette or something like that.

My game's level editor uses an arrow shaped stream of 1's and 0's flowing from miniature editing grid and entering a block of frozen 1's and 0's for save map. A larger 1's and 0's block is also the icon for data files. A small level wireframe on the block denotes it's a map data object. Loading has the arrow / stream of 1's and 0's flowing the opposite direction. For models there's a (re)materializing humanoid figure instead of the map grids. For saving / loading text files there's a text cursor and mock document with some bold in a few places -- For game code / scripts there's curly brackets and the mock document has syntax highlighted words. For the spreadsheet data, there's a damn mini table. If you can't think of a proper graphical representation of the action, you should fucking hire a real designer.

What about the "Old Users", eh? What the fuck is that about? They've been through some MIGHTY changes in their lifetimes, from radios with knobs and TVs with dials to light switches with dimmer sliders and push button seek for radio tuning. They've adjusted fine. Grandma's not up at the screen trying to figure out where the fucking tuning dial is -- She hits the channel up and down or punches in the numbers like everyone else. Fucking twits like you ought to try getting old for a change. I bet you your social security you're already more retarded than the imaginary folks you're pandering too.

Re:The debate is moot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385905)

Less than 50, mostly pro-Apple, and we're supposed to take you more seriously? Puh-leeze.

Dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385463)

Isn't this story a dupe from a long while ago? I believe so.

I want them to review Microsofts UI.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385465)

Just to be sure there is not bias.

Plus do they have any examples to show to the class that backs up their claims?

Just for the record (4, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385469)

Wood veneer IS wood. It's a more efficient use of the wood. FAKE veneer is printed paper. That I don't care for, mostly because it peels. Modern people aren't unused to seeing wood.

And please, brushed chrome? It's timeless - and it's metal. One hundred percent of the people I know are used to seeing chrome.

"One beneficiary could be Microsoft, where the design of Windows 8 distances itself from skeuomorphism by emphasizing a flat user interface that's minimalist to the core: no bevel, no 3-D flourishes, no glossiness and no drop shadow."

I hate minimalism, it's nothing new, it's nothing attractive, it requires no thought and it's ugly as hell.

All of the above is, of course, my taste. HEY! An idea... allow the user to choose. Oh, yeah... skins. Maybe he hasn't heard of them.

iOS Maps (5, Informative)

cormandy (513901) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385513)

The icon that fucks me off the most is the one for the iOS Maps application. The US interstate route sign in the icon (ie route 280) makes absolutely no sense to anyone young or old outside of the United States. A globe or something similar would make more sense....

Re:iOS Maps (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385613)

it is a bit silly, but it's almost an easter egg because it's their headquarters... took me a while until I realised

but again... to me until then, it was just a map of some roads

They're right for the wrong reasons. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385521)

I can't stand Apple interfaces, and it has very little to do with skeuomorphism. At least skeuomorphic symbols mean vaguely something. No.. my complaint comes from icons/symbols which mean absolutely nothing, like the three coloured circles you see at the top of Windows on OSX. What the fuck are those supposed to mean?

Re:They're right for the wrong reasons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385581)

I can't stand Apple interfaces, and it has very little to do with skeuomorphism. At least skeuomorphic symbols mean vaguely something. No.. my complaint comes from icons/symbols which mean absolutely nothing, like the three coloured circles you see at the top of Windows on OSX. What the fuck are those supposed to mean?

point taken on this one, when showing a completely new user OS X it is slightly confusing at first, but the x + - symbols do make sense... like any UI it takes some initial getting used to

But what about the next generation? (3, Funny)

Dahlgil (631022) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385525)

Of course once you've gone completely flat and removed all the ornamentation, it makes one wonder where the next generation will go. Perhaps someone will suddenly realize, wow, we can make those tiles look just like a 3D image of a smartphone (and, of course, be promptly sued for rendering them with curved corners).

I would like to take a moment here (0)

Magada (741361) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385529)

to thank the greedy motherfuckers who bought slashdot for this opportunity to participate in such a wonderful interactive advertising event.

Two [slashdot.org] plugs for Win8 in one day? Why, that's just generous.

Disney & Apple Vs Nickelodeon & ??? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385537)

If OS X and iOS are bad then iTunes is a crime against humanity. And I think that's because the original program came from outside Apple [wikipedia.org] .

I feel like Apple's UI can be compared to Disney's take over of animation stylings. Before Disney, you could find a whole variety of animation styles. But the vision of Disney was to make everything round and smooth and beautiful. Every animation cel was to look like a masterpiece portrait -- because that was the general populace's desired art at the time. And that's what Disney was trying to make, animated art. You might have found a sharp edge on a villain like Jafar in Aladdin but the main character would be round and warm. Others tried to mimic the stylings and it became a de facto standard mostly because it sold.

Similarly, Apple has done their UIs to be as beautiful as possible. And they've done it really well and it's expensive (I'd imagine both computationally and price). And both Steve Jobs and Walt Disney appeared to be this monolithic men pushing this new way (in reality it's probably a bunch of artists in a cohesive team) but they've both come and gone. And Apple clings to that vision but the vision never changes.

What happened to Disney was another production house, Nickelodeon, slowly discovered that square and rigid corners were not only acceptable but Spongebob Squarepants became an icon. Gross humor could be applied to shows like Ren & Stimpy and some people enjoyed this more than the safe beauty of Disney. Disney has no grit because Walt Disney wouldn't allow it. Disney got into disagreements with Pixar about Toy Story 2 and I think it is best if they left Pixar separate from Disney despite the acquisition. Similarly in the future Apple will be usurped by someone who is willing to experiment and deviate. Jobs is dead so Apple is committed to his vision ... probably until they go under. They'll acquire new ideas along the way with their massive piles of cash but what happens when those visions are at odds with The Great Master who has transcended to Nirvana? That's still a long way off but these rumblings of criticism just show you can make another interface that is completely the opposite of Apple and actually do well.

People just want something that looks interesting. (2)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385557)

Even though I don't think that skeuomorphism is the way to go about it, people just want something that looks interesting. They are also willing to pay for the cosmetic changes from version to version, so it makes business sense too. Pretty much everything goes through these stylistic trends. Clothes, cars, and other home electronics come to mind.

A second even though: even though I'm not big into fashion or appearances, I also want the computer screen to look interesting. The standard OS X and Windows 8 interface is a bit boring in my mind, simply because I am staring at it for hours a day and for days on end.

Windows 8? no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385569)

The extreme bad reception of visual studio 2012's new win8-like user interface paves the way for its failure.

So its back to Motif then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385573)

Apple better start stealing/patenting the UI. Strange that they got it right first time, 20 odd years ago!

It has its uses (4, Insightful)

mr_lizard13 (882373) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385589)

I think there's such a thing a 'over-skeumorphing', but I do find it serves a purpose. Those shelves might not be real shelves, but it emphasises that those icons are books, not apps or games or anything else. And by using the same stitched leather across the iPhone, iPad and Mac version of the calendar app, it emphasises that the data you put in is shared between these apps. Same for the Reminders app. And the Notes app.

I also think that having a strong visual identity for an app can make it more fun to look at and use, if that's your thing.

I admire the slickness of Windows Phone, but it just feels a bit too depressing, bland and clinical for my liking. I don't feel like I'm supposed to have fun when I'm using a Windows Phone.

OSX is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385637)

Maybe windows metro style looks less decorated than OSX, but when you try to configure the wireless you will live hell on earth. OSX comes from a ZEN style, adding small decorations and shadows that users are able to understand in a natural way. Do you remember windows overlaps on WIN3.1? Yes, this is why skeuomorphism won the war with shadows. Despite 'slashdot' and 'gizmodo' trying to fight against Apple designs. Of course abusing of skeuomorphism is not a good idea, but in general windows errors are worst and more complicated than OSX ones.

Yea! What Does Apple Know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385639)

Yea. Apple needs to do something about this. I've had just about all I can take of their extraordinarily successful and liked desktop metaphors.

Apple needs to just change shit! So what if it is working fine. Old people need to FOAD. Apple needs to reinvent the desktop. Apple needs to follow Microsoft's lead in cutting edge desktop design technology.

Tenuous at best (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385653)

I find this whole skeuomorphism thing to be tenuous at best. I'm 26 and have never used a rolodex nor a leather calendar book--and my phone hasn't looked like a corded handset since I was seven. But so what? I love the way all that stuff looks. There is a reason people go in for retro styles in the first place. We like that connection to the past. And to say that we are confused, simply because we're young is preposterous. We grew up on television. We've seen it all. Sure, we may laugh every time Jack McCoy picks up his tethered phone and flips through his rolodex to find another lawyer, but we aren't idiots. We know how this stuff works, and frankly I prefer the organic look of real objects to the sterile hospital environment of Google's design team. Just because the thing is digital does not mean it should look like it was designed for a Star Trek shoot.

Jargon (2)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385669)

"Skeuomorphism" irritates me as much as "cloud" and "mash-up" before it. The simple term is "metaphor", the pre-2012 standard term for this approach to UI. Are the anti-skeuomorphismists proposing that every GUI OS now give up the folder metaphor? You know, underneath they're "directories".

I'm guessing the objection is to photo-realism of the metaphor rather than the metaphor approach itself. Showing a 24-bit image is like having the joke explained to you. It also adds frustration and cognitive dissonance when the metaphor, which is an anology after all, breaks down -- when it doesn't operate exactly like what is being portrayed in 24-bits. Then, it's not just having the joke explained, it's also a bad pun.

When desktop UI metaphors are rendered in 1-bit, they take on a suggestive and less specific meaning, and the user understands them as hints and the users do not rise up in rebellion with endless trade articles about "skeuomorphisms".

Re:Jargon (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385953)

First off, there are many types of metaphors, so from a purely taxonomical point-of-view, there's nothing wrong with the introduction of a word that describes a particular type of metaphor. Secondly, it's not necessarily about metaphor. Skeuomorphism refers to the practice of carrying over unnecessary elements from one version of a product to another (in most cases, talking about going from an analog or physical object to a digital replacement). For example, the click that you hear when your phone's camera takes a picture is a skeuomorphism. It's added because people are used to the sound that old cameras physically made.

While the main purpose of skeuomorphism is to create digital metaphors, the term refers to the action of carrying over the elements; the purpose may or may not be to create a metaphor, although that's what happens in most cases. It may seem pedantic to some, but the term does have a valid meaning.

Ask yourself this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385675)

Look at the "phone" icon on your smart-phone. Now ask yourself what it should be if not a handset silhouette.

Re:Ask yourself this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41386029)

Two tin cans connected by a piece of string?

Great for sales (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385689)

Nothing makes you think you did a great $500+ tablet purchase than looking at a minimalistic interface. And is it such a bad thing for your child to ask why an icon looks the way it does. Nothing wrong with silly 'Back in the day books were actual tangible objects and bound in leather. In fact your crappy plastic car interior is emulating it!'.

What I find amusing... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385691)

The thing that I find very strange about Apple's UI peoples' obsession with ultra-tacky stitched leather borders, disgustingly twee fake paper calendars, little 'wooden' shelves for ebooks, and similar rot, is how sharply it differs from their hardware guys...

On the hardware side, Apple's aesthetic is one of a practically brutalist honesty to their materials, and a fairly relentless drive to unify surface and structural elements(ie. aluminum unibodies, rather than ABS-clad magnesium or steel skeleton designs, that sort of thing). It is really quite jarring. Their hardware guys appear to be iterating toward the monolith from 2001, and then you turn the device on and *BAM* punched in the face by '90s shareware UI...

A great time for criticism! (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385733)

Apples has never been more successful, surely they are doing something right. It may be the case that the next "criticism" waved at apple will be maniacally laughed off.

Everyone is missing the point including the poster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385751)

When designing an experience for a user, you need to make it solid, fast, easy to use, and purposeful. In removing nostalgic crap, you make your OS/app/whatever more efficient.
Someone said something about 'why should we ignore the old peoples needs'. First, it's not a need, and second, no matter what the "visual" that's clock cycles on the cpu and gpu. So in effect, you ARE addressing the older generations needs, you're "making their computer faster".
Bottom line.

I really did enjoy the way the Aero interface looked, but at the same time, I've been using 8 and really don't notice that it's gone. I mean, if I look at it sure, but when I'm using my pc it doesn't matter. What matters is that it is CONSTANTLY a faster gui.
Sometimes even on the web, I wish companies and people would realize, the more crap you do, put on the page, bells and whistles, the slower you app is, or makes the computer running it. Not everyone can afford an uber pc like I have, so let's do it for the human race.

I Agree! (5, Funny)

clonehappy (655530) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385757)

Touching objects on a screen that look visually like what the physical representations of the function being peformed used to look like before we had PDAs and smartphones is ludicrous!

I'd much prefer a CLI so I can type "cd /usr/bin" then "./phoneapp dial -domestic +13125551212" whenever I want to make a phone call and "./phoneapp hangup -log /var/log/calls.today" when I hang up and want to add the details to a log file. That's much easier for me to understand, and should be self-explanatory to anyone if they just read the command. :)

If that's just too hard for some people, I guess we can have a GUI with red and green icons with antiquated pictures of analog handsets on them, for now. But those should eventually be deprecated in favor of some newer, more modern representation of what a phone looks like.

is this backlash just hipster angst? (3)

Speare (84249) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385771)

I'm a visual person. I like a bit of skeuomorphism. I can agree that many apps take it too far, but there are some kinds of apps where it can benefit, and where it can make things more fun to use.

A few top ways skeuomorph apps can do things wrong:

  • take too much real estate for artistic masturbation (faux screwmounting, wide bezels, oversized labelling, gears, spiral bookbinding, fancy logo plates
  • rely on an ancient methodology people won't be familiar with (the Rolodex example is a good one)
  • break the metaphor (infinitely long three-ring-binder pages)
  • forcing the metaphor by withholding obvious shortcuts (requiring a separate pencil eraser tool to be selected, when Undo or backspace would suffice)

Non-skeuomorph apps have the same kinds of problems in many cases. Fat margins, "iced" or unstretchable dialog box layouts, inability to copy pretty much any visible text to the clipboard, flat coloring that lets different entities to merge.

I haven't found my ideal window manager yet. It seems like 99% of the mouthbreathing userbase likes fully sovereign/maximized applications. This breaks down on massive displays. It seems like a lot of people like magnetic window edges that "help" align things neatly and nicely at all times. I'm the opposite, I like windows to be scattered and different sizes, and if there are just a little too many, to be overlapping such that no borders line up. This is almost a skeuomorph of a desktop where different papers overlap generally but never exactly.

People seem to go on about making flatter colors and simpler framing, but I like the visual cues of shading and shadow, of increasing or decreasing contrast to draw attention. The Metro stuff looks like a wall of sample paint chips you see in Home Depot, or the funny hospital triage menu interface in Idiocracy. No, I don't want to run "Afternoon Eggshell Delight" nor do I want to have to hunt the wall for it.

Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap. That includes examples of skeuomorphism. However, that's not the reason to throw it out.

Soulskill's crusade against skeuomorphism (2)

mothlos (832302) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385793)

http://ask.slashdot.org/story/12/08/29/0138234/ask-slashdot-is-the-rise-of-skeuomorphic-user-interfaces-a-problem [slashdot.org]

This is just a pet peeve of an editor and not of general interest. Skeuomorphic design isn't inherently evil for users, it's just that a lot of UI designers get annoyed when people ask for it and they can't try their less constrained designs. I sympathize with backlash against the plebian scum of the business world, but they are also their customers. This is an attempt to convince people that these designs are more objectively bad in order to have more firepower to resist them when they are requested.

Occurs in language too (1)

jimmy_dean (463322) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385801)

I'd have to say I don't think it's such a bad thing, nor does it set a new precedent by any means. This type of things happens in languages (human) all of the time. In English, we still use words and phrases such as "he is in the lime light." How many people actually know that that refers to what they used to light stages with back in the early 20th century? Should we replace this phrase because it refers to something most of us have never physically observed? Of course not. Yet, some things in language evolve, morph and turn into something completely new. I don't mind the evolutionary/hybrid approach to language, and I don't mind it for UIs either.

couldn't understand the article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385803)

Can someone please to explain? Inline text callouts and images? Vertical words on a long page? I'm sorry, I couldn't even understand the article because it was laid out according to practices and standards that, while perhaps useful in easing the transition to the web from the print publishing industry of the early 1990's, is just scary and confusing to me, since I have never actually seen a "page".

Why is Apple at $700/share? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385815)

Why? Because MOST of the users (and potential) out there understand these things. You can make an interface bare and functional, eschewing all references to physical or mechanical analogs, and you will make the computer literate crowd swoon. Compare that 2-4% market share with the "rest" of the population, and you can see why people are buying this "poorly designed" Apple hardware. It's familiar and comfortable - and it's (mostly) well-done and visually pleasing from a graphic design standpoint. Never, ever underestimate the power of good graphic design work.

Look at high powered businessmen, CEOs, lawywer - they wears suits that cost what I make in a month to enhance their credentials without any indication of ability, and people believe them to be smart. Real geniuses (no Val Kilmer reference intended) can walk around in T-shirts and jeans because they really are awesome and don't need that kind of window dressing. Thing is, there are very, very few real geniuses out there, and if you dress up a "pretty smart" person, people will happily pay genius rates.

OS X Regressions (1)

mattsday (909414) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385841)

For those not familiar with this paradigm shift in OS X, John Siracusa nails it in his Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Review [arstechnica.com] .

I don't think either implementation makes the applications easier to use. They seem to have been done for no other reason than "we can".

Mountain Lion's implementations aren't as awful, adding back most of the 10.6 functionality to iCal and making Address Book usable without constantly clicking between screens. However, they've gone this far, it would be trivial to remove the stitching and faux leather leaving them with standard apps that follow colouring conventions.

Certainly from a HUI perspective and imho the changes aren't positive.

Nice in Theory but missing one bit of logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41385993)

Yes, their basic premise is valid - however, specifically the rolodex example, a rolodex style icon, despite it's antiquated-ness has become synonymous with "contact info" for digital natives - despite their never having used the 'real thing'. But even that is moderately inaccurate because what was a rolodex? A simple, organized, searchable collection of contact information, which is exactly what a contacts app is.

This debate sounds like artistic navel gazing

Apple's a hardware company first. (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386077)

I think it is clear that Apple is a hardware company FIRST, then a software company. If Apple applied some of their hardware design principles to their UI design, we would be seeing some highly evolved and hopefully massively well received UI design. I think people want to use Apple's hardware and simply have to put up with their software, and of course assume the software must be on par with the quality of the hardware.

Considering how much evolution has been seen in Apple's hardware over the last 10 years, and how little their OS'es have evolved, I think speaks to my point completely. For instance Mountain Lion is nothing more then Lion with a few more apps built into it.

Apple's UI is not perfect, far from it. The assumption of "don't break what works" does not apply. Apple will see eventual erosion of their iDevice market as Microsoft and Google innovate in UI design while Apple persists with the same UI year after year. Eventually there will be some feature of Windows or Android that will make them more attractive then iOS or OS X. An product that remains static cannot compete indefinitely with consistently evolving product.

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