Apple designers at odds over skeuomorphic apps

Internal Apple tension over the looks of the company’s applications is becoming public, according to a Fast Company report, with key executives and designers disagreeing about the aesthetics of software designs. Most of the criticism revolves around the company’s occasional penchant for skeuomorphism—ornamental designs inspired by real-world materials and products — that sometimes appears in software, such as in iCal’s “leather” stitching and Game Center’s wood-and-green-felt casino look. The skeuomorphic interfaces arguably make some users feel more comfortable with software, while offending the visual tastes of others.

The report suggests that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and current Senior iOS VP Scott Forstall have aggressively promoted skeuomorphic interfaces, while Senior VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive and other designers believe the traditional visual metaphors are no longer necessary and create confusion. “There was lots of internal email among UI designers at Apple saying this was just embarrassing, just terrible,” a former senior UI designer at Apple reportedly told Fast Company in reference to the leather look of iCal, which reportedly was inspired by Jobs’ personal Gulfstream jet; another former designer is quoted as claiming that many Apple employees “think it’s gone too far.”

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