Those are words that don’t usually sit anywhere near each other in the same sentence, but Apple is coming under fire for its latest round of skeuomorphic interface choices in both iOS and Mac OS X. CNET’s Lance Whitney writes about how Apple has “screwed up” the new Music app on the iPad in iOS 5, and Chris Rawson at TUAW kicks off his review like this:
Not all of these changes are for the better. In fact, some of them are big steps backward for the app’s usability. The iPad’s iPod app was once my favorite way to browse music on any device, but the new Music app on the iPad is the worst music browsing experience I’ve had since Winamp 2.
Meanwhile, in OS X Lion, the latest version of iCal has received widespread criticism for taking the clean design of the past and replacing it with something that looks as if it was designed by Filofax. John Siracusa breaks it down in his excellent OS X Lion review on Ars Technica:
The trouble is, the new iCal looks so much like a familiar physical object that it’s easy to start expecting it to behave like one as well. For example, iCal tries very hard to sell the tear-off paper calendar illusion, with the stitched binding, the tiny remains of already-removed sheets, and even a page curl animation when advancing through the months. But can you grab the corner of a page with your mouse and tear it off? Nope, you have to use the arrow buttons or a keyboard command, just like in the previous version of iCal. Can you scribble in the margins? Can you cross off days with a pen? Can you riffle through the pages? No, no, and no.
It’s not clear to me what Apple’s direction is on this. I understand the motivation to make software look more like the real-world object it seeks to replace, but these latest releases take form over function to a new level. It also creates inconsistency across the Apple branded apps. Why give Address Book and iCal the corinthian leather desktop metaphor and not do something similarly real-worldy to iMovie or iPhoto? Those apps still look like Mac OS X Finder windows.