While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) might have once been lauded for their use of skeuomorphic designs, which take design hints from real-life objects and create digital items meant to look similar, there may be a problem with implementing that sort of style all over an interface.
As traditional computer sales fall and tablet and smartphone sales rise, tech companies designing apps or operating systems have to think differently. In general, a laptop or desktop computer has a screen many times the size of a smartphone screen, and it is usually also bigger than a tablet. Given the cramped space of smartphone screen, having intricate graphics running rampant around the screen could create a major headache for users trying to pinpoint something and get a task finished quickly.
While the skeuomorphic style may lend to a sense of comfort in some applications, as it may make something feel more natural, it could also add to a sense of clutter in other situations…
A few years ago, Microsoft was working on a different design scheme that was more flat, and broke things up into simple-to-digest images. The manifestation of this design style can be seen quite clearly in the start-up page of the new Windows 8 operating system, which features a multitude of rectangular tiles with simple graphics and distinct divisions.
Now, it seems as though others in the tech industry are following Microsoft’s lead on the flat and simple graphics. Facebook has been simplifying its buttons, and Apple could be following suit with the launch of its next iOS update this coming summer. According to sources whom 9to5Mac heard from, iOS 7 will be very flat, like the latest Windows operating systems, and will be doing so for the purpose of simplicity that is a key to the flat design.
Being ahead of the design curve should seem like a good thing for Microsoft, yet many people shied away from Windows 8 at first, and Windows Phone has yet to snag massive popularity. So, there must still be something missing from the equation. Unfortunately for Microsoft, if the flat design really was a smart way to go, it may not have the advantage much longer if other companies catch on before consumers.
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