Jony Ive was knighted yesterday by our dear Queen. There's an interview in the Daily Telegraph in which he talks about the horrible user interface design that has been invading Apple's apps and operating systems for a while — which goes against everything he stands for.
Yes, I'm talking about skeuomorphism. Or, as I like to call it: dumb, stupid unnecessary ornamental fake crap. Ism. Or gimmickism if you are into the whole brevity thing.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, skeuomorphism transfers old school physical elements to a bi-dimensional representation on screen user interfaces. A faux leather-bound calendar app. Some lame Find Your Friends app that shows a map framed in leather with fake stitches. Address books that look like old address books nobody uses or knows about anymore. Notes apps that look like yellow legal pads. And so on.
Instead of focusing on making apps functional, clutter-free, useful, coherent, honest, pixel-perfect, and clearly designed to present information in the most efficient and elegant way, Apple's user interface designers love to put ornamental elements that don't make sense anymore. Gimmicky elements which, most of the time, just get in the way and/or look plain awful.
It's like they printed a hundred thousand copies of Dieter Rams' principles for good design to wipe their butts with every day.
Apple's user interfaces are the anti-thesis of Ive's unceasing drive towards elegant, clutter-free, functional hardware designs. Which is why I've always wondered: What does Jon Ive think about Apple UI honcho Scott Forstall's stitched leather and other skeuomorphism obsessions? Here's the diplomatic answer to the Telegraph, after literally wincing at the question:
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.
He's not really "connected" means two things: One, he doesn't have a say on what the user interface people do. And two: He doesn't feel any connection to it whatsoever. Because that design goes against everything he believes in when it comes to design. And rightly so.
Not to worry, Jon, you have our sympathy. And I will edit that quote to reflect your true feelings on the matter:
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 bloody crap excuses of user interfaces, the effin' leather bollocking you're talking about, I'm not really connected to that shite and I don't even want to think about it, so leave me alone, because I feel enough pain seeing my creations running such stupid gimmicky applications.
I bet Jon would love for Apple to take a page from Microsoft's Windows Phone user interface which, shockingly enough, matches his hardware design philosophy so much better.