Apple's 'Visual Masturbation' Problem

Austin Carr for Fast Company, on the battle inside Apple over skeuomorphic design:

Inside Apple, tension has brewed for years over the issue. Apple iOS SVP Scott Forstall is said to push for skeuomorphic design, while industrial designer Jony Ive and other Apple higher-ups are said to oppose the direction. “You could tell who did the product based on how much glitz was in the UI,” says one source intimately familiar with Apple’s design process.

But before Forstall, it was Steve Jobs who encouraged the skeuomorphic approach, some say. “iCal’s leather-stitching was literally based on a texture in his Gulfstream jet,” says the former senior UI designer. “There was lots of internal email among UI designers at Apple saying this was just embarrassing, just terrible.”

As much as I laud and appreciate Apple’s hardware design aesthetic, I don’t share the same adulation for its software’s. Take a company like Tapbots, whose stamp is felt in every pixel of every one of their apps, yet theirs is tasteful and unique. Apple’s skeuomorphism kick borderlines on fetish, and it takes away from the overall appeal of the apps. The most egregious offender, in my mind, is Find My Friends on iOS. The faux leather that adorns the interface is so garish that it makes me want to stick nine-inch nails into each one of my eyelids.1

On the bright side, though, the paper-shredding animation in Passbook is kinda cool. Kinda.

(via Daring Fireball)


  1. A cookie to anyone who gets that allusion.  ↩