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Designers Criticize Apple's User Interface For OS X and iOS 484

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-many-devices-have-they-sold dept.
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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Designers Criticize Apple's User Interface For OS X and iOS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:19AM (#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?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:15AM (#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.

    • by Shoten (260439) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @10:02AM (#41386439)

      In other news...actual users criticize design of the majority of systems they use, wondering why they can't be more like IOS or the experience of using a Mac...

      • Coming up after the break, Apple partisan oblivious to non-Apple perspective.

        Click the red gem to "close" this application without quitting for some reason. Press enter to rename this application for some reason.

    • by Bongo (13261) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @10:27AM (#41386747)

      Indeed. Besides it is just textures. Architects went nuts in the 20s ripping out all texture and decoration to create a clean pure look. But in the end people found it cold and inhuman, and cold concrete and metal gets boring. So it just helps to have a bit of variety and decoration. Not everyone wants to live in MUJI world or a Rietveld Schröder House. Besides the textures offset the clean simple hardware. And when looking at a screen all day, a bit of variety helps. Of course one might not like the particular textures, that's a different matter.

  • Skeu (Score:5, Informative)

    by CheShACat (999169) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:19AM (#41385405) Homepage Journal
    http://skeu.it/ [skeu.it] has some cracking examples and a good bit of snark to boot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SquarePixel (1851068)

      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.

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

  • by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:20AM (#41385413) Homepage Journal

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

  • Metro? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kagetsuki (1620613) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:20AM (#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.

    • by Xest (935314)

      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 s

  • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:20AM (#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*

    • by mothlos (832302) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:40AM (#41386183)

      Yeah, like those awesome sorted grids of icons which make finding that one thing you want dead simple.

      Or those application docks which make it obvious to users how to open a second instance of an open application or switch between multiple open instances.

      Perhaps you were referring to media library organizers which use a completely different set of metaphors and visual cues from the file system and are essentially incompatible making it less difficult when users want to interact with their file browser... somehow.

  • 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).

    • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:47AM (#41386245)

      One might argue that both Microsoft (Outlook) and Google's calendar and contacts apps do exactly that, and are both much more widely used than Apple's.

  • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:22AM (#41385435) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by Clsid (564627) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:47AM (#41386257)

      I was kind of opposed to the "tabletization" of OS X in the beginning, but now that I have used Mountain Lion for several weeks I have to say that it is a great idea. I enjoy Launchpad and the Notification Center a lot. Notes and Mail that behave exactly like my iPhone is a big plus, especially since Notes are like Evernote but much much faster. I really should mention Mail since I really thought that e-mail clients kind of hit a ceiling and that program proved me wrong. Reminders are ok but nothing spectacular. The deep App Store integration is also a good thing considering that OS X Lion and Mountain Lion breaks a lot of old software, Photoshop included, so when you get something from there you never have to wonder "will it run on my Mac?".

      I think what Apple is doing wrong is breaking application support. I was very annoyed at not being able to use most of my games and a lot of software with the latest releases. I think when Apple was using Rosetta to run PowerPC programs they were doing fine. Once they took that attitude of "update your apps or else", it really made me appreciate all the hard work that Microsoft has done in that sense. I can still run a lot of old stuff in the latest Windows, and even the DOS applications can be run with a bunch of free emulators like DOSBox. There is no way to run an emulated OSX 10.2 or similar that I know of in a Mac.

  • Too minimalist (Score:5, Informative)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:22AM (#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.
  • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:23AM (#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".

    • by tmosley (996283)
      You do realize that the dock is customizable by click and drag, right? It isn't exactly rocket science.
    • Really? There's so much to criticize about Apple's design, like OSX's big and cluttered dock versus a tradicional taskbar,

      You mean the traditional dock from NeXTSTEP versus the imitation from Windows?

  • by imagined.by (2589739) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:25AM (#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.

    • 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

      • by imagined.by (2589739) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:00AM (#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.

  • Just to be sure there is not bias.

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

  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:26AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by cormandy (513901) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:30AM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

  • by Dahlgil (631022) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:32AM (#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).

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:33AM (#41385537) Journal
    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.
    • I've worked at Disney's home entertainment department and I've had close friends work at Nick (close as in the real sense, not the Hollywood sense).

      I think your entire post sums it up nicely in the second paragraph:

      I feel like Apple's UI can be compared to Disney's take over of animation stylings.

      Yes ... you feel because the rest of ranting has no basis in reality. Not one bit. This is a post that would make Jon Katz proud.

      I could go through your post and break it down piece by piece, but every time I sta

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:35AM (#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.

  • Remember Microsoft Bob?
  • by Chrisq (894406)
    Give me the command line any day
  • It has its uses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr_lizard13 (882373) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:38AM (#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.
  • you're doing pretty well if, the day that designers criticize your UI, it makes headline news in the geek world.
  • Tenuous at best (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:48AM (#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.

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:49AM (#41385669) Homepage

    "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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

  • 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!'.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @08:51AM (#41385691) Journal

    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...

  • I Agree! (Score:5, Funny)

    by clonehappy (655530) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:00AM (#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.
  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:03AM (#41385771) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by mothlos (832302) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:06AM (#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.

  • 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 evo

  • 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

  • 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 le

  • 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 year

  • by EXTomar (78739) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:47AM (#41386247)

    I've come across no UI design that is perfect but these guys pick something that Apple actually does "correctly" and as well as trying to cite Windows 8 Metro as the better way to do it which is extraordinarily dubious stance to take???

    I am not a professional UI designer but from the things I've learned about skeuomorphism is that skeuomorphisms are powerful when used correctly. For instance: Present a group of people a large cornflower blue square and ask them "What is this used for?" and you will get a lot of different answers (an output area, a blank picture, an empty container, no idea). Present the same group of people a square with a wood grain texture and ask them "What is this used for?" and many will immediately gravitate to "this looks like a flat wooden surface" and often calls up "an area I can put other things on". Even though functionally both the blue square and the wood texture square can be coded to the same thing, the texture adds a skeuomorphism that gives a big hint on the function.

    Now look what was just pointed out here with Metro and the various gadgets found on Mac OSX. I think it is dubious when people are looking a colored square with text as "better" than a something that looks like a notepad with a check list on Mac. There are drawbacks to doing that way on the Mac but it sure as hell isn't "confusion"!

  • by jemenake (595948) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @10:15AM (#41386603)
    Keep in mind that Apple's early slogan (for the Mac, anyway) was "The computer for the rest of us". That "rest of us" bit referred to the folks who weren't computer geeks who loved the command prompt. In order to make the Mac welcoming, they tried to use plenty of metaphors which were already ingrained into the minds of potential users. Heck, even the very idea of a desktop is like that, where you pick stuff up, set it down somewhere else, windows overlaying like sheets of paper. The point is, Apple seemed to try (more than their competitors, at least) to create as many "Oh, this is just like what I do in the physical world, already!" moments as possible, so that, from first use, the user found the Mac to be familiar and welcoming.

    Now... it sounds like the argument being made is "Yeah, yeah... but those days of the never-bought-a-computer consumers are over. Now that we've got them on-board, let's start cutting those ties to meatspace". However, to do so makes me immediately think of Photoshop. If you started with Photoshop when it was version 1.0, and if you grew up with the gradual addition of features as they appeared in the many versions, then you're fine. Frankly, I weep for anybody who has to learn today's Photoshop from no previous experience with it. About a decade ago, Adobe, itself, realized that they had this problem and they came out with Photoshop Elements (and you can make the same argument with Premiere and Premiere Elements) as an intermediate step to get users acclimated to Photoshop paradigms without just throwing them into the deep end of the pool. (For those about to argue that Photoshop Elements was, instead, an attempt to tap into a "pro-sumer" and amateur market which was priced out of Photoshop... yes, it was that, too... but it wasn't all that, or else Elements would have just been Photoshop with a bunch of the powerful features taken out. Instead, Elements had a bunch of UI changes which made it easier to use; there was now a red-eye removal button, instead of having to lasso or magic-wand and then use a spot-healing tool or whatever. It introduced the user to being able to successfully manipulate pixels, without the learning curve being way too steep.).

    So, that's what I think of when I see the calls for Apple to abandon skeu... that the ship is full of passengers and it's time to shove off, take those passengers to further shores, and leave the rest of the folk on the docks. And I think that's a departure from what Apple has always tried to be.

    Lastly, I gotta say... I grew up with MS-DOS... did 8086 and 6502 assembly... nuts-and-bolts stuff. I hated Apple with a passion for years as being "foofy". Nowadays, however, when I play with my iPhone or iPad, I find all of the real-world metaphors in the UI to be very heartwarming. The stitching on the leather in the Notes app... I look at that and it's a little like sipping hot cocoa.

    Now.... GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!
  • by adobelis (2669881) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:09AM (#41409835)
    My biggest problem with OSX has always been the lack of Alt- sequences -- key-stroke sequences that allow you to access menu items without touching the mouse. As a power-user of at least two productivity applications (Word and Excel), I have forever avoided *unnecessary* mouse usage by memorizing my favorite sequences like Alt-e-s-t (Paste->Special->Formats). My use of these applications is, frankly, bewilderingly fast (pat, pat), in the eyes of users who use drop-down menus to access these same functions. If you have never seen someone use Excel without ever touching the mouse, you should: you will learn something about user experience and interface efficiency.
    In *some* previous versions of OSX you could turn on alt-sequences. Others, not -- I bought a used MacBook Pro in 2005 and couldn't figure out how to get these to work after ~10 hours of research, so I resold it a month later. I frankly don't use Macs enough to know whether it's easy to do this now, but from casual use I know that it isn't available as a default, which is silly, whereas it is on Windows. And thus Windows encourages developers to include these sequences, which is a real boon for every app where they work.
    Mice are great, but they are slow! Why would you ever want to aim three clicks when you could type four letters? Imagine if you had to type text in Word, Excel, VS or Eclipse by clicking an on-screen keyboard with your mouse... you'd probably just give up and write with pen and paper (or a manual typewriter), and hire some low-wage laborers to do all that slow, boring clicking. That's how I feel when I use Excel on a Mac.

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