Jony Ive, Apple’s brilliant senior VP of industrial design, was knighted by the Queen of England today. In an interview for the Daily Telegraph about his latest honor, Ive was asked a few questions about how he thinks Scott Forstall’s (senior VP of iOS software) iOS user interface meshes with his hardware designs. Ive had some interesting and enlightening responses.Of course, he was very polite and diplomatic in his responses, but if you read between the lines it definitely seems like he isn’t the biggest fan of some of iOS’ design elements.
It seems Ive doesn’t really care for the skeuomorphism present in iOS and many 3rd-party applications. For those that don’t know, skeuomorphism “transfers old school physical elements to a bi-dimensional representation on screen user interfaces.” For example, the yellow legal pad theme for the Notes application or the stitched leather texture for the Find Your Friends app; it’s taking something old and faking the look of it on a touch screen.
While at first this might not seem like the design crime that some have made it out to be, it definitely doesn’t flow with Ive’s sleek, minimalist, no-fluff hardware designs. These gimmicky design choices for the software can take away from an app’s ease-of-use and just sort of get in the way of what the app was designed to do. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad all the time, but I can totally understand why someone with the design ethos of Jony Ive would dislike such a practice.
When asked what he thought of Scott Forstall’s use of skeuomorphism throughout iOS, Ive clearly tried to distance himself from it.
“My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that’s our focus and that’s our responsibility. In terms of those elements you’re talking about, I’m not really connected to that.”
I admit that this wasn’t something that I really consciously took note of before, but now that it’s been pointed out to me I can definitely see the discrepancy between Ive’s clutter-free, usage-centric hardware and Forstall’s decorative software.
What do you guys think? Should Apple aim to incorporate Jony Ive’s principles into the iOS UI, should Ive strive to be a bit more ornamental in his designs, or is the combination of both ends of the spectrum just right? Let me know in the comments section below or on twitter!