Scott Forstall and The Skeuomorphic Design

Scott Forstall

     Three weeks ago, Scott Forstall, the Senior Vice President of Apple Software was fired from the company.  And, Sir Jonathan Ive, who was taking care of Apple’s Hardware Design will take over his position.  In his new position at Apple, Jonny Ive will be the head of ‘Human Interface’ in which he will be taking care of both Hardware and Software Design which was formerly headed by the legendary Steve Jobs.  That’s Good News.  But the Bad News is that Scott Forstall had been fired.  Rumours say that Forstall had been fired from the company because he refused to sign the apology letter for the failure of Apple Maps.

   As far as I have seen in the news articles that I have read, many have been talking in the sense Scott Forstall leaving Apple as a ‘Good Thing’.  But, I would say ‘No’.  They wrote that they did not like ‘Skeuomorphic Designs’ that Mr. Forstall had been creating in the iOS.  I will come what Skeuomorphic Design later.  They all have been writing like that they never ever liked or loved the Softwares that Apple had been creating under Scott Forstall’s Lead. He created the world’s best mobile operating system, iOS.  It’s not just iOS, it’s ‘The iOS’.

   Did not they like it and praising Apple for the same ?  Did not they use Calendar feature of iOS which was using ‘Skeuomorphic Design’ ?  Apple’s iPhone has been the best because of its Software and not just the hardware.  I am not getting any philosophical here but it is a good thing to see the best side in everybody.  If one product fails, does your reviews have to be so stinging  ?  It is a question that I am posing for the entire Interface Enthusiasts and Technology Appreciators.

   So coming to ‘Skeuomorphic Design’, what is ‘Skeuomorph’ ? According to Wikipedia, A skeuomorph or skeuomorphism is a design element of a product that imitates design elements that were functionally necessary in the original product design, but which have become ornamental in the new design.  We  have read earlier in one of our class readings of CGT 512 (Once upon a time, remember ???), by Donald A. Norman about using age-old  traditional representation for the new products.  In Skeuomorph, it is simply the part of the design itself.

For example, Artificial Leather Grain on the Calendar Icon of iOS and in many other applications.  I tried to research more on the question that whether a Skeuomorphic Design a Good thing or Bad.  After hours of Google search, I can just say that it just depends on the context that we are using the design and the current mind set of the people.  It’s not a question of ‘Why ?’ but ‘Who ?’.  Being in this industry of creating software for people, we can never ignore the question – Who we are dealing with ?  Like most of the answers, the answer is ‘It Depends …’. :).

Thanks. :).


News Article – Improvements in Google Apps.

     I thought that Google Apps. were perfect than anything else on my phone.  After reading these articles, now, I am re-thinking my decision.  You can read the news article from here – Fixes in Google Apps.  Moral of the Story : As Interface designers and Programmers, I think we should have a keen eye hereafter looking for improvements than just looking for their problems.  

News Articles – Cascading Problems of Poor Documentation & iOS 6 Flaws

     I read the following article in Mashable and thought I can share.   You can read it by clicking here – The Real Reason Silicon Valley Coders write Bad Softwares.  The article generally talks about self-taught engineers, their poor english, documentations and unorganized code which causes the problems to cascade in a product’s life cycle with good explanations and examples.  The other aritcle takes down iOS 6 by explaining its problems of usability – Say, the colors used, search results, inconsistent design etc.,  You can read it here – iOS 6 Problems.  I sometimes have this question over my mind – Does Apple make these mistakes because Steve Jobs is no more :(.  Take a dig if you are interested.

Thanks. :).

Talk by Doug Field (VP – Product Design for Apple Inc.,) at Purdue

Yesterday (September 11, 2012) I went to talk by Doug Field (VP – Product Design for Apple Inc.,) from Apple at CL50.  The talk had many things for a wide variety of audiences – Innovation at Apple, Product Design and even questions from the audience about iPhone 5’s release date (which is today).

I particularly had three things to take away from his talk.  The first thing is Bio-Mimicry – taking inspiration from Nature for designing products.  A product which takes its inspiration form Nature is much more easier to use than telling them to read the user manuals.  There are many products which we still use that draws inspiration from nature that are used widely everywhere.  Eg., The most natural way of interacting with things – Touch.  There you go, now we have touch input based things every where.  Every product which is widely used in this world has its inspiration from Nature.

Secondly, Doug Field suggested using Darwin’s Principle for using things – Nature Selection, Survival of the Fittest and Evolution.  Cool, Right ??? He quoted that with examples from his product designs and how he was connecting the dots form one thing to the another.

Finally, I don’t know if everyone noticed the Slides.  There was Apple’s design inspiration in each of its Slide.  The Slide started with Apple Logo (Exactly, like the start-up logo in each of Apple’s Products).  The Fade-Out transition that the slide followed was similar to the iPod’s Menu Navigation.  Every slide had Apple’s font Lucida Grande used in it.  That’s Marketing and That’s Apple.  :).