Found this fascinating post by way of Kottke.org, it accurately describes something that has bugged me about areas of OS X Lion, specifically iCal.
I use iCal every day, all day, and when I opened it for the first time on Lion I felt annoyed and vaguely patronized by the ripped pages, bogus leather stitching, drop shadows, faux texture, overly soft colors and superfluous animations. Here’s the funny bit. I’d been running the iOS 5 beta on my iPad for a while before I jumped to Lion, so I recognized this new look for Calendar.
And yet, somehow, on the iPad, it wasn’t as patronizing.
One reason I can think of is that I don’t take the iPad very seriously as a computing device because it simply isn’t a serious computing device.
Another reason that makes sense is that iOS devices are new in the pantheon of computing, and Apple has done fantastically well convincing people (correctly) that they already know how to use an iPad and iPhone. Because touchscreen devices are relatively new, Apple focused their software design on comforting users with “delightful” and “emotional” connections. These are words you’ll find in the iOS Human Interface Guidelines (HIG).
If you read the HIG, you’ll find passages like this:
When appropriate, add a realistic, physical dimension to your application. Often, the more true to life your application looks and behaves, the easier it is for people to understand how it works and the more they enjoy using it. For example, people instantly know how to use the realistic address book that Contacts on iPad portrays.
On the iPad, it does feel appropriate to have a realistic address book, primarily because I can hold it in my hands and touch it like I would its physical analog. Not so much with my laptop, which I don’t interact by touching and swiping in the same manner.
Therein lies the rub.
Emotionally, I might appreciate these realistic easements on a touchable device, but they just patronize me on a keyboard/mouse one. Even if I didn’t have a ton of experience using a traditional computer (can’t believe I’m calling it that), these design elements wouldn’t translate as well on non-touch devices, simply because the input mechanisms aren’t the same.
Anyway, add this to my growing list of objections to the coming age of touchscreen devices.
A nice bonus, if you read the post I linked above, you’ve learned a new word: skeuomorphism.
Thoughts? Find the comments.