The stark minimalism of Apple’s hardware design is frequently belied by software interfaces modeled on real-life objects and textures.
Skeuomorphism – a term for software interface design that references physical things – was in many ways the mainstay of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ design philosophy for touchscreen devices. Even after Jobs’ passing, Senior VP of iOS Scott Forstall kept the mobile operating system on a course that had seen it become progressively more skeuomorphic since it first debuted on the iPhone.
More than simple nostalgia, skeuomorphism is based on the idea that users feel more comfortable touching a device’s display (a classic computing no-no for more than 20 years) if it’s textured like something they’re used to handling.
And so we have the virtual bookshelf and page-flipping animations of iBooks, the card-table felt of Game Center, the faux paper-shredder in Passbook and the gray linen backdrop for notifications. This is why the default font in Notes is a Comic Sans knockoff. Possibly the worst offender is the almost universally-panned stitched leather of Find My Friends.
According to numerous rumors, Forstall’s pro-skeuomorphic approach was a minority position among Apple execs; and Jony Ive, who will take over most of his responsibilities, has reportedly not been shy about denigrating the practice.