Software designed to look like real-life textures, such as linen or felt, is expected to become a thing of the past at Apple now that designer Jony Ive has taken over the user interfaces of iOS and OS X.
Scott Forstall was previously in charge of iOS software, but his departure from the company was announced this week, while Ive will serve as head of Apple's Human Interface decision making. Forstall, along with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, was a strong advocate for skeuomorphism, which is a type of design that replicates real-world objects digitally.
But Ive is said to loathe skeuomorphist designs, which means Apple's software is expected to have a significantly different look and feel in the future.
"You can be sure that the next generation of iOS and OS X will have Jony's industrial design aesthetic all over them," one unnamed Apple designer told The New York Times. "Clean edges, flat surfaces will likely replace the textures that are all over the place right now."
Another unnamed source suggested Ive would have to work to win over Forstall "loyalists" who remain at Apple. That former employee said they worked in software for several years, but never saw Ive in a meeting.
Some skeuomorphic designs are helpful to users, like the trash bin utilized in OS X for deleting files. Some who spoke with the Times also justified the digital paper shredder that appears when deleting items in Passbook for iOS 6, saying it is "a good way of reinforcing the idea that potentially sensitive information has been wiped from the device."
But other design choices not related to the use of the product have been criticized by designers at Apple as well as those outside of the company. In particular, the felt, casino-style table top in Game Center, and the "Corinthian leather" that appears in the Find My Friends and Calendar applications.
In recent years, Apple has brought many of the designs found on iOS devices back to the Mac platform. Today, in Mountain Lion, applications such as Calendar, Game Center and Notes have identical looks in iOS and OS X based on real-life objects.
Rather than skeuomorphic real-world interpretations, Ive is a proponent of minimalist designs that place functionality above all else. As head of Human Interface at Apple, Ive is expected to cut back on the type of unnecessary flourish that can be found in some of the company's current software offerings.