Wood and Brushed Metal: iPhone 5 Reignites Debate on Skeuomorphism
The lights have dimmed in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, and journo-bloggers have published closing one-liners on their live blogs, uploading final pics of the new longer, skinnier and more powerful iPhone 5.
It is time for Apple's annual post-product and OS release ritual, as fan boys (and girls) dance proudly around the fires newly stoked by Apple CEO Tim Cook and crew, while head-shaking iHaters stand just outside the warm, orange-y ring of light, waiting their turn to jeer and mock.
From the longer 4 inch retina display, built-in panorama photo feature, Lightening power/sync cord and noise canceling earbuds, there are so many new offerings to be enjoyed when the iPhone 5 becomes available for pre-order in two days.
While watching Mashable's live stream of the event, I saw a number of polls asking readers if they thought the iPhone 5 was all they expected, ho-hum or a let-down. The numbers for each choice, I noted, were often not too far from each other. Maybe the issue wasn't the iPhone itself...?
When the fanned flames of newness died down, came a re-kindled debate on whether or not the wunderkinds of Cupertino, despite rolling out so many advanced features in the iPhone 5, should reel themselves back from repeated forays near the design precipice known as skeuomorphism.
In his article Can We Please Move Past Apple's Silly, Faux-Real UIs? for FastCompany, writer Tom Hobbs provides a pretty good definition of skeuomorphism from the Oxford Dictionary:
"to replicate the form and material qualities of (things) that are no longer inherently necessary, all with the objective of making new designs “look comfortably old and familiar".
What Hobbs is (and others are) referring to is the tendency of Apple's UI designers to (sometimes painstakingly) recreate a digital experience using an all-too familiar, perhaps even outdated interface. Like the visual (and audible) page-turning in an iBook, coupled with neatly stacked pages and a bright-red v-cut bookmark - all meant to give the "feel" of reading the digital version's paper-based predecessor.Continued on the next page