Scott Forstall on skeuomorphism: infused in Apple's design sense by Steve Jobs since the original Mac

Scott Forstall answers about skeuomorphic design at the 2:04:11 mark.

Scott Forstall was clearly an important and controversial figure at Apple. Head of iOS software, he had a close relationship with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, but not long after Jobs' passing, Forstall left the company amidst the disappointing launch of Apple Maps.

We have not heard an official explanation about the reasons behind him leaving Apple, but chances are that he was forced to leave as he had disagreements with Tim Cook and refused to sign an apology letter that Apple issued to its customers regarding the launch of Apple Maps.

Scott Forstall on skeuomorphism: infused in Apple's design sense by Steve Jobs since the original Mac

But the one detail that most people still associate Forstall with is the so called 'skeuomorphic' design. This refers to things like your icons looking like real life objects: a folder in the icon would this look like a real world folder, the phone icon should resemble a real telephone and so on. Here is the interesting bits about this design from the iOS chief at the time himself:


Forstall goes on to tell a story of how an Apple customer sent the company a video of his 2-year old using an iPad for the first time and how she was able to unlock it and start playing game on the first go. Then, he also tells the story of a 99-year-old woman with arthritis and a cataract who could read and write again thanks to the virtual keyboard on the iPad and the high brightness of the display.

Of course, it's hard to argue that most skeuomorphic designs these days look a bit outdated, quaint, while flatter designs have taken over. What are your thoughts, do you have any nostalgic feelings about skeuomorphism?

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5 Comments

1. skips

Posts: 441; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

I miss it. The design language of the =

2. skips

Posts: 441; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

why did *less than* symbol erase the rest of my comment. delet yourself phonearena

3. Furbal unregistered

Not a fan of the design myself but imitating life like objects has its place. The example of the baby shows it, if it projects familiarity in design and usage it will be easier to adapt to.

4. fiji.siv

Posts: 95; Member since: Nov 25, 2015

When the iPhone first came out skeuomorphism made sense because many of the the interface elements they were designing were brand new. At the time it was necessary to associate the virtual aspects of the UI to real world items. 10 years removed, we get it - that's a calendar, that's a phone, that's my contact list. Skeuomorphism is much maligned now but it was a smart design choice at the time.

5. willywanta

Posts: 497; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

It is like fashion. Trends come and go.

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