Dave Wiskus has an article up on Macworld looking at the state of skeuomorphism in Apple design and where we are headed from there. Wiskus makes a point that I never considered: that skeuomorphism (which I loathe) is a bridge, a stopgap, used until the world was deemed ready to be comfortable with digital only approaches.
Wiskus thinks that change is about to come:
Technology is no longer witchcraft to be feared by the masses. We’ve grown accustomed to having phones, tablets, and computers around us to do things. With both visual and interaction design, we’re nearly past the point of real-world metaphors being useful, and the simplest representation is usually best.
He points to the ascendence of Jony Ive over all things design at Apple as being the indicator that the time for skeuomorphism to die is coming near. (At least at Apple, who I see as the biggest contributor to the “movement”.)
It’s a fascinating thought, that Ive will rid the app store of leather isn’t the most interesting bit, but that he will approach design as digital only. A digital only design is something that I cannot picture the look and feel of.
What is a digital only interface?
Is it really the interface, or lack thereof, of Clear, Letterpress, and others?
Or is it something that we have yet to see? Something more intuitive to a generation that has grown up not knowing what a floppy disk, Dayrunner, Rolodex, and analog telephone are.
To those users, the users that will soon be making the tools we use, such physical objects mean nothing. How do you convey saving, pictographically, if the user doesn’t know what a floppy disk is? Apple has largely answered this: you making saving a non-user controlled function that is done automatically (with versions stored for rollback). Apple’s removal of the save button altogether is a far better solution than changing the icon on the button.
I hope we see more intuitive features like that — tools that allow users to just use the device without having to command the computer every step of the way.