Wednesday, September 25, 2013

For all the Apple fanatics out there...

Last week, Apple released their newest operating system for the iPhone: the iOS7.  This update completely redesigned the visual aspects of the phone to create a more simplistic feel.  There are new features, including more efficient multitasking options and the Control Center to quickly access frequently used functions like the music, flashlight, photos, and timer.  (This is a very abbreviated overview of the new iOS7 features.)

When I was working on one of my peer editing assignments this week, I made a connection between this new operation system and the debate between print versus digital.  In the operating systems preceding iOS7, iPhone apps and features were based on “skeuomorphism”.  This concept dates back to the late 19th century when it was defined as “an ornamental design derived from the structure of an earlier form of a particular object.”[1]  In connection to the iPhone, this means that features, like the address book, were designed so that they look like the actual object would: a spiral booklet of lined paper.  Another definition from explains that “skeuomorphism refers only to those vestigial elements in nature or artifact that survive from an original form, even though they are no longer required.”[2]  So the address book on the iPhone clearly does not require spirals and actual paper, but it was designed in this way in order to connect with the original printed version of this technology.
The iOS7 update trashes the skeuomorphic approach, striving for ease and efficiency.  My question is this: is the eradication of skeuomorphism another step towards the absolute domination of the digital world over the print world?  Although I do not think this is possible…what is the meaning of these technological developments that continuously break from the past?  Are they solely for ease-of-access purposes or can these advances somehow be categorized as control technologies?  How will consumers react to simplicity over skeuomorphic design?

Let me know what you think!     

[1] “What is skeuomorphism?” The Economist, accessed September 26, 2013,
[2] The Economist, “What is skeuomorphism?”

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