The live tiles smack of a degree of originality, clever design, and useful functionality. Unfortunately, Windows much applauded efforts haven’t caught fire with the masses. Is Apple about to make the same mistake?
Familiarity vs. Originality
What I like about Windows’ live tiles is the quick glance information value, not the layout and design of either the ‘Metro’ interface or Windows 8.
Apparently Microsoft’s design efforts– to create a unique user interface, and to not copy Apple’s iOS layout– have not spurred much excitement with customers.
Why not? It’s familiarity vs. originality. Windows 8, on the surface, just doesn’t look or work as Windows users expect. The change was too much, too fast, too drastic.
Instead of exciting the customer base to try the new interface, Microsoft seems to have made navigation even more different and too difficult for the average user to absorb. Learning is hard.
Word on the streets is that Apple’s new iOS honcho, Sir Jonathan Ive, is hard at work flattening out iOS and OS X. Skeuomorphism is out. So is shine and gloss. Instead, Apple’s interface could end up being flat, perhaps taking some design cues from Microsoft.
What a turn of events that would be. While Microsoft is back peddling quickly to add the famed Start button to its proper location in a Windows update, Apple is leaning toward a newly minted and highly simplistic flat design.
Depending on how far the new flat design goes, Apple’s customers, who are usually treated to incremental design changes, might be in for a Windows-like shock.
Subtle, more incremental changes in interface design seldom meet with much scrutiny or caustic headlines from the tech media pundits, but a highly visible wholesale change needs to be a dramatic visual and usability improvement, otherwise Apple risks getting skewered by the one group they need the most. Loyal customers.
Apple also runs the risk of making OS X and iOS look similar to every newly flattened layout and interface trend. Look at the new Yahoo! Flat but colorful icons populate the sidebar menu. Google’s Play is flat and colorful. Windows Phone Market uses flat but square app icons and a text menu in the sidebar. Just like Google.
Apparently the latest design trend is flat and colorful. I consider it more or less like Fisher-Price designs but devoid of drop shadows or depth. What can Apple add to flat and colorful besides taking out the color?
I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about skeuomorphism designs and couldn’t care less whether there’s leather stitching or a linen background or a beveled chrome drop shadow. What I care about is whether it’s visually please, but even more so that a new design be instantly familiar and usable.
It’s beginning to look as though Apple is about to join the flat parade. How does looking like everyone else set Apple apart?