On the one hand, you’ve got hardware design minimalism rooted in the Bauhaus school, and on the other you’ve got software design that’s the polar opposite -- decorative, arbitrary and cheesy. While its hardware looks like it’s from the future, iPhone apps look like they’re from the 90s.
The unacceptable design of these apps has become obvious, as small startups keep innovating and improving the design of third-party apps.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced several executive changes this week. The biggest of them was putting industrial design chief Ive in charge of not only hardware design as before, but he also now “provides leadership and direction for Human Interface software teams across the company.”
Apple’s hardware guy is now in charge of software design.
The man in charge of software used to be Scott Forstall, who it is rumored was essentially fired for three reasons. First, he was said to be overly ambitious, as well as “abrasive and combative.” Second, he was not only primarily responsible for the disastrous Maps debacle, he refused to apologize for it. And finally, he had a love skeuomorphic design, and insisted on building into Apple products.
And that’s what’s so interesting about Ive’s new authority over software. Ive apparently hates skeuomorphic design.
Ive is the kind of designer who obsesses over matching form with function, and stripping away extraneous elements. You’ll note that the iPhone and iPad have one button on the front, for example.
iOS software is about to change radically.
The current Notes app on the iPhone and iPad is a perfect example of tasteless and decorative skeuomorphic design. But look at a new app from web hosting company Squarespace called Note. This, I believe, is what Jony Ive software looks like. Stripped of decorative elements -- stripped of all interface, actually. Beautiful typography, gesture centric.
Squarespace Note’s colorless minimalism is one approach Ive could take with software. Another is to use color for conveying information. A great example of this approach is with an app called Solar.
As you can see, these apps -- tasteful, minimalist, modern, functional and beautiful -- stand in diametric opposition to Apple’s current lineup of cheesy, cluttered, antiquated, clumsy and ugly skeuomorphic apps.
In addition to taking apps in this direction, I believe Ive will create uniformity between apps -- I predict they’ll all share interface elements that Apple will likely patent, and that will transform the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad overall.
The “Ivification” of Apple software is going to upgrade Apple’s most important products, and make the experience of using them something totally different.
I’m very optimistic about this change at Apple, and look forward to the company competing with superior design in software, and not just hardware.