Originally Posted by Tallest Skil
Least of which because Microsoft already did it and Google stole it from them. Though that's an important point. Microsoft reduced their OS to elementary shapes and primary colors. That's not necessarily bad, but it in their case it is.
Microsoft's model is to make something and force people to learn how to use it. By forcing people to do it the way they're told by Microsoft, they can be locked into the ecosystem. "Well, I've already spent ten hours figuring out twelve functions of this software; I may as well keep using it to get my 'money's worth' for my time, even if there is something better." That's why drastic UI changes are casually thrown around at Microsoft (Metro, Ribbon, the way Control Panel changes in every single release, etc.): they just couldn't care less about you and what is best for you. They want you to do it their way, which renders you incompatible with their competitors. Adobe does the same thing, except they do it within their own suite of applications, which is even more pathetic and embarrassing.
Apple doesn't do that. Apple does the polar opposite. Apple's model is to make something that operates in a way that everyone already understands. Apple wants people to pick up their products and instantly know how to use them. Jony has said that, if not word for word, in one of their product intro videos. Probably not word for word, but still. That's the reason for the skeuomorphism in the first place, and that's the reason it should NOT go away. Yes, it's overplayed. Slightly. But look: The point of the design of the hardware is to be as unobtrusive as possible. You shouldn't even notice the hardware as you use the software. That's why what Jony does is so difficult; it's easy to put a bunch of buttons and what have you directly on the product, but then you've stuck the user with the broad scope of "this button does that and only that" which comes from older, stupider appliances. You don't, for example, expect your blender's liquify button to do something different when you're after pineapple instead of mango. When the hardware is so simple, so seamless that it just becomes the window to the world that is software, then that world can be populated richly. Back to skeuomorphism. To make something that everyone already understands, you'd want to make it, well, look like something you already understand. Notes being a legal pad makes perfect sense, for example. Calendar looking like a desk calendar makes perfect sense. Where skeuomorphism can overstep its bounds is when the design itself detracts (or distracts) from the utility*. For example, the color and type of leather chosen in Calendar is wrong. Objectively. "But you can't…" Come on, it's just wrong. Take a gander at a physical desk calendar and you'll see that it has neither puffy nor yellow-taupe leather on top. It'll be a leather, sure. But it would be a deep maroon, it would be flat (like a rectangular prism), and it probably wouldn't even have a visible seam on it, much less one so large. That's where Calendar goes wrong: not that it mirrors a desk calendar, but the way in which it does so. Find My Friends also fails skeuomorphically. But not for the same reason. Find My Friends fails not because of the color and type of leather chosen, but because there is no physical analogue to its utility. The skeuomorphism there confuses the mind, both consciously and subconsciously, and distracts us from its use. In seeing it, both on its own and within the context of the entire OS, we are compelled to connect the dots between its UI and something we may have seen in life before. We get confused, then, because not only is there no physical analogue to Find My Friends, if we do manage to connect it to something, that something is wrong, and then we don't use the app as is intended, because we expect it to be something it never was. This is all really subtle stuff, but it's happening.
I shouldn't have to say this, but I'm worried enough that I feel compelled to: I hope Jonathan Ive still recognizes the extension of the role his hardware plays in this system and that the design of the software should not be handled in the same fashion as he does hardware. The hardware is sparse so the software can be rich.
*But, given that his greatness comes from making hardware whose design neither distracts nor detracts from its utility, I have confidence that Jonathan Ive, despite the media pathetically up-playing his "scorn" of skeuomorphism in that split second interview, in redesigning iOS (if at all) could make something beautiful, powerful, and simple, without removing the skeuomorphism that makes all Apple products the leaders they are.
Sorry about the wall. I hope I'm on the mark for most of it.