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Brushed metal (not another discussion of whether you like it).

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
What's apple doing with brushed metal? If you'll look at <a href="http://www.mac.com," target="_blank">www.mac.com,</a> you'll notice the brushed metal theme. In terms of apps, we've got: iTunes, iPhoto, Addressbook, iChat, QT and soon iSynch and iCal (any others that I've missed?).

.mac appears to be part of apple's overall strategy (for something). Let's take each of these apps and see how they tie into .mac, starting with the ones that are actually already implemented.

iPhoto: this is the most obvious one to me. Homepage, yes. Of course, there's also the behind the scenes action with ordering prints (and you get 75 free kodak prints with Jag, I've heard).

iCal: You can publish your calendar to your .mac site.

iSynch: presumably, you should be able to synch to your calendar and others' who have used .mac.

Those are the three that I can think of right now. Speculation would lead me to include:

Addressbook: I could easily see your local addressbook being synched with the one on .mac. Webmail therefore becomes immensely more useful.

What about the others?

iTunes, QT: possible media hooking? Sure, not out of the question.

iChat: hmmm, communicating with other .mac users seamlessly.

Anyone else notice trends that I missed or perhaps some apps? (Notice that Sherlock also LOST it's brushed metal look, taking it out of the mix, if my theory's right. Before it looked like Apple was just slapping brushed metal on every app they came out with, now there's more purpose.)

Thoughts?

[ 08-18-2002: Message edited by: torifile ]</p>
post #2 of 19
Somehow I doubt that there is a direct correlation between the two, but it isn't out of the question. Personally I find aqua to be much more appealing to the eyes, and much more user-friendly. To me it seems that the brushed-metal look is kind of a left-over from the OS9 days.
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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by RyanTheGreat:
<strong>Somehow I doubt that there is a direct correlation between the two, but it isn't out of the question. Personally I find aqua to be much more appealing to the eyes, and much more user-friendly. To me it seems that the brushed-metal look is kind of a left-over from the OS9 days.</strong><hr></blockquote>

And your reason for believing this is what? iCal, iSync, iPhoto, iChat and Addressbook are all new apps. OS X only. iTunes' brushed metal look changed to match the others'. There's method behind this madness, to be sure.

Also, there's the standards support in all of these.

iCal, iPhoto: WebDAV.

iChat: zeroconf

iSync: SynchML

iPhoto (again), iTunes: jpg, MP3.

There's definitely more than meets the eye.

-t

ps - if it was just 'leftover' why is it still around when Apple has shown they're willing to get rid of it if the app doesn't fit the structure I'm proposing? (see Sherlock)
post #4 of 19
They seem to all be linked the digital hub, no? Though the .Mac confounds me.

I suspect if you check out Apple's human interface guidelines, it will outline when and when not to use the "brushed metal" look. That should provide sufficient insight into Apples usage of that style.
post #5 of 19
i don't recall the exact link, but it was through ADC, and apple had posted some guidelines about when and where to use the brushed metal look.

basically, it is to be used with apps that either connect to digital hub devices or mimic such devices.
post #6 of 19
Here's my take on this mess.

The "original" brushed metal app was Final Cut Pro, immediately followed by the QuickTime Player (4.0). Apple used the metal appearance in QT4 to attempt to mimic a real world device. The analogy failed in countless ways, but the metal appearance stayed.

Sherlock 2 also came with the brushed metal appearance. It was slow, clunky, and just didn't make sense to have a metal appearance. It didn't mimic any real world device like QuickTime and FCP did. Many people hated it and thought it was a dumb move by Apple. Several Mac deveopers/hackers released patches for Sherlock that would remove the metal theme.

So Apple made a mistake there. Everyone is entitled to a mistake once.

Then came Sound Jam. Sound Jam's default skin mimicked the QuickTime Player's but improved upon it with extra features. When Apple bought Sound Jam to make iTunes, they dumbed-down the interface a thousand fold, but kept the metal appearance, slightly updating it to match the soon-to-be-released QuickTime 5.

A few months later, Apple released iMovie with yet another variation on the metal appearance. At this time, the general consensus was made that Apple was going to keep using the metal look for multimedia apps, with Sherlock as an oddball exception. Fair enough.

iTunes and iMovie became incredibly popular and, probably thinking this look was a hit, Apple released iPhoto with a similar brushed appearance. With iPhoto, people said that the metal appearance was still an extension of the "media app" theme.

That brings us to the present. Now we get iChat, iCal, iSync, and Calculator with the metal appearance, plus any other software developer wants it can use it. How do these conform to the "media app" theme Apple had established before? They don't, really. Some people then say that maybe the brushed metal could be meant for single-window apps. Sounds fair, but iChat is *not* a single-window app in the slightest. Neither is iTunes or QuickTime Player. So, now we have a hodgepodge of apps with various different functions that have a custom theme that looks and behaves differently from Aqua. Again, we also have developers that can add brushed metal to their apps at their whim.

Well, there has to be some kind of reason for this all. Let's look at what Apple says in the HUIG:
[quote]This window style has been designed specifically for use byand is therefore best suited toapplications that provide an interface for a digital peripheral, such as a camera, or an interface for managing data shared with digital peripherals, such as the Address Book application.

This appearance may also be appropriate for applications that strive to re-create a familiar physical devicethe Calculator application, for example. Avoid using the textured window appearance in applications or utilities that are unrelated to digital peripherals or to the data associated with these devices.

Within an application, the textured window appearance should be limited to the primary application window. Supporting windows, such as preferences and other dialogs, should not use the textured window appearance. It is acceptable to have a mix of standard Aqua windows and textured windows within an application.

...

Avoid creating custom controls for use with textured windows; standard controls look and behave appropriately when used with this appearance.<hr></blockquote>Frankly, I find this a bit hypocritical. The apps that first come to my mind now are QuickTime Player, iTunes, and iChat. QuickTime Player does not connect to any peripherals nor does it manage data shared between peripherals or even other apps. I suspect the "familiar physical device" bit was made specifically for QuickTime Player, since that's where the metal theme originated. iTunes makes sense as a metal app, but breaks the rules in the latter paragraph. Not only does a "supporting window" use brushed metal (the equalizer), but many more metal windows can be spawned from the playlists, each of which are barely distinguishable from another.

Next, let's try to see how iChat fits into any of that description. Does it? I can't see where it does. No peripheral interaction, no shared data between apps, and no simulation of a physical device. What's worse it that iChat also introduces custom, nonstandard controls!

If you hadn't used or seen iChat, could you tell me where the popup menus are in these windows?





I doubt it. The connect/disconnect/away popup, for one, relies on a rollover for the user to recognize its function. What? The last time I saw a rollover required for user interaction was in various Windows apps and in AOL. Ugh!

What's my point is this whole post? My point is that it seems that Apple is beginning to lose its direction with the Mac OS interface. Apple used metal in a small number of apps, but is now expanding that number and allowing other developers to use it as well. This, I believe, is inherently a bad thing. Apple just spent the last two years getting developers to make their apps play nice with Aqua. Some developers *still* aren't using Aqua properly. Now, Apple choose to throw *another* wrench into the machine?

*shrug*

[ 08-17-2002: Message edited by: Brad ]</p>
post #7 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by torifile:
<strong>

And your reason for believing this is what? iCal, iSync, iPhoto, iChat and Addressbook are all new apps. OS X only. iTunes' brushed metal look changed to match the others'. There's method behind this madness, to be sure.

Also, there's the standards support in all of these.

iCal, iPhoto: WebDAV.

iChat: zeroconf

iSync: SynchML

iPhoto (again), iTunes: jpg, MP3.

There's definitely more than meets the eye.

-t

ps - if it was just 'leftover' why is it still around when Apple has shown they're willing to get rid of it if the app doesn't fit the structure I'm proposing? (see Sherlock)</strong><hr></blockquote>

I dunno.. my post was more a reflection of my discontent towards the brushed-metal look in the first place, than an actual critique of your idea. Personally, I think you may be looking too deep, but there is an equal chance that you are entirely correct.
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post #8 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by Brad:
<strong>Then came Sound Jam. Sound Jam's default skin mimicked the QuickTime Player's but improved upon it with extra features. When Apple bought Sound Jam to make iTunes, they dumbed-down the interface a thousand fold, but kept the metal appearance, slightly updating it to match the soon-to-be-released QuickTime 5.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Entirely off topic, but I would say that Apple strip down the features a thousand fold, but not the interface.

Anyway, Apple is definitely post-rationalizing this stuff. I think it would be best to limit the metal appearance (there are very few behavioral changes) to primarily "kiosk" apps that do (nearly) everything in one window. I know, I know, iTunes can have several windows, but I'm not advocating being that restrictive. It's exceptional behavior. I don't buy the real-world argument even if it is how it started, more or less.
post #9 of 19
Yeah, apple should, by default, darken the pop-up window <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" />
post #10 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by Nebagakid:
<strong>Yeah, apple should, by default, darken the pop-up window</strong><hr></blockquote>
What *are* you referring to? :confused:
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post #11 of 19
Wow- I never knew Apple bought SoundJam for iTunes. SoundJam is amazing, far and away the best music player I've ever used.

And as for my two cents, I don't like the brushed metal look for anything other than final cut and quicktime. It's just very VERY OS9. Oh well, seems Im a minority.
post #12 of 19
To quote Bill Hicks:

"You have to rationalize on your feet."
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post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by Brad:
<strong>Here's my take on this mess.

... Apple released iMovie with yet another variation on the metal appearance. At this time, the general consensus was made that Apple was going to keep using the metal look for multimedia apps, with Sherlock as an oddball exception. Fair enough.

iTunes and iMovie became incredibly popular and, probably thinking this look was a hit, Apple released iPhoto with a similar brushed appearance. With iPhoto, people said that the metal appearance was still an extension of the "media app" theme.

That brings us to the present. Now we get iChat, iCal, iSync, and Calculator with the metal appearance, plus any other software developer wants it can use it. How do these conform to the "media app" theme Apple had established before? They don't, really. Some people then say that maybe the brushed metal could be meant for single-window apps. Sounds fair, but iChat is *not* a single-window app in the slightest. Neither is iTunes or QuickTime Player. So, now we have a hodgepodge of apps with various different functions that have a custom theme that looks and behaves differently from Aqua. Again, we also have developers that can add brushed metal to their apps at their whim.
...
What's my point is this whole post? My point is that it seems that Apple is beginning to lose its direction with the Mac OS interface. Apple used metal in a small number of apps, but is now expanding that number and allowing other developers to use it as well. This, I believe, is inherently a bad thing. Apple just spent the last two years getting developers to make their apps play nice with Aqua. Some developers *still* aren't using Aqua properly. Now, Apple choose to throw *another* wrench into the machine?

*shrug*

[ 08-17-2002: Message edited by: Brad ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

Do you really think that Apple's just going around willy-nilly using the brushed metal look on whatever apps they want? Don't you see the connection? In the beginning, we thought the look was for media apps. Not a bad assumption considering the apps that were using it. Then there was this confusion about 'physical devices.' Maybe that's Apple's way of allowing other's use it if they want. Then there came .mac. The website is brushed metal. The same b.m. of the aforementioned apps. That's really the lynch-pin, for me. The b.m. look seems to have something to do with .mac. Apple is allowing other developers to use it for some other reason (magnanimous Steve, I guess). But it really comes down to that for me, at least.

Apple has made mistakes with the look in the past, but it seems as though they've gotten their direction back. There's some theme driving their use of it (see Sherlock's lost of it and the Addressbook's addition). From now on, I think if we see b.m. on an app it will be rolled into some service or other of .mac.
post #14 of 19
Hey I can finally log in again! I like the brushed metal look but only to an extent. It's nice to see it on a few apps like Quicktime and iTunes, but I would hate to see developers start to use it causing me to have a whole screen full brushed metal. Oh well, at least Apple didn't decide to make fuzzy Jaguar windows for 10.2. <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> :eek: <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" />
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post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, this really wasn't supposed to be a thread about whether or not we like brushed metal there are already a hundred of those. I guess the consensus is that the brushed metal look is just another theme of sorts, with no underlying cohesion.... too bad. I still think there's some reason for it.
post #16 of 19
I don't have a problem with the idea per se, but it has to be a little more carefully disposed, especially now that it's available to third parties. The good news is that they pulled it from Sherlock 3. I don't really care if it's post-rationalized as long as it is rational at some point. It's getting better, but the guidelines need another revision or two. My only current gripe with its use is with the Address Book. That one really confounds me.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by BuonRotto:
<strong> My only current gripe with its use is with the Address Book. That one really confounds me.</strong><hr></blockquote>

But it shouldn't if you consider it within the larger .mac framework. It will be integrated into the services offered, I'm sure of it. LDAP is the standard its based on and with all the other enterprise-level-ish features we're seeing evolving, it's really a no-brainer. To me, the calculator is the troubling one. <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />
post #18 of 19
I'm with you in spirit, torifile, but I can't quite cover all my bases when I try to explain the brushed metal appearance to myself.

I guess what we're saying is that brushed metal has a split personality. Is for for representing "real-world" objects, e.g., the Calculator? Or is it for, um, uh, "hub" applications?

The more I think about it, the more I have a problem with both. On the one hand, the calculator is just about the only "real world" object there is on my screen. Then there is the idea of mimicking "real world" devices that may or may not exist, like the Quicktime Player windows. As QT 4 proved, there should be a certain degree of abstraction in any such metaphor, which blurs the line between what is "real" and what is, um, "digital." then you might say that the apps that interact with real world devices might have this lok. well, that for one throws out the Calculator and QT Player, but it does justify it for iTunes (iPod, not to mention speakers I guess), iPhoto (your printer or gets printed as a book), or iMovie (back to your DV camera or on tape). Of course all of these also interact with non-real world objects, especially the internet, plus almost any application can interact with a real world object, especially with a printer.

On the other hand, the "hub" function gives us the same problems. How do we decide what is a hub app and which app just happens to use other peripherals? In theory, they're all part of a hub to some degree.

Now we could classify brushed metal apps as being "novice" or "simple" apps, but then there's FCP and maybe DVD studio Pro (can't remember).

You could say that brushed metal apps are single window apps, and this more or less holds up. But there are exceptions, and more advanced applications might be considered single-window aps too -- ever see Carrara?

Now you pointed out that the brushed apps take advantage of standard formats and protocols. but since those are architectural features, any app could take a brushed appearance if they do this. That is, it doesn't seem to be exclusive or specific enough to justify another appearance.

I'm not willing to say that brushed metal is a Bad Thing. But right now it's kind of a mess. I will say that Apple doesn't have to figure everything out or get it all right the first time. A clearer message should emerge eventually though. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm assuming that brushed metal apps should be distinct in terms of their role to the user as well as their appearance. The guidelines should be set up such that they have a singular common purpose for the user that is exclusive to those applications. Maybe I'm thinking about this in the wrong way?
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by BuonRotto:
<strong>I'm not willing to say that brushed metal is a Bad Thing. But right now it's kind of a mess. I will say that Apple doesn't have to figure everything out or get it all right the first time. A clearer message should emerge eventually though. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm assuming that brushed metal apps should be distinct in terms of their role to the user as well as their appearance. The guidelines should be set up such that they have a singular common purpose for the user that is exclusive to those applications. Maybe I'm thinking about this in the wrong way?</strong><hr></blockquote>

Nah, I don't think you've got it wrong, I think it's very confused right now. But things seem to be emerging. What started my thinking about this is <a href="http://www.mac.com." target="_blank">www.mac.com.</a> At first I wondered why they would do the brushed metal look for it, but then I thought about many of the apps that work with .mac and it seemed to make sense. The ones that don't (that is the apple apps, excluding the perplexing calculator), all have the potential to be integral parts of .mac. I just don't know what those parts will look like.

-t, enjoying this speculating stuff....
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