David Papp Blog

Skeuomorphism is the new buzzword for Apple’s iOS7


Differences Between iOS6 and iOS7

Apple has recently given the world a sneak peek into the new iOS7 software that will be used to power the forthcoming new versions of both iPads and iPhones slated to appear on the market later this year. This latest update will provide a very dramatic overhaul to the visual aesthetics of previous versions, most notably iOS6.

With the new iOS7, the Control Center allows extra functionality such as controlling the brightness of the screen, setting ring & vibrate options, and enabling Bluetooth and WiFi minus the very intricate and time-consuming access to the settings menu. Swiping up from the bottom of the iPad and iPhone screens automatically offers access to a panel of shortcuts which you can use to turn on the timer, play music, and even turn on an LED flashlight.


What is skeuomorphism?


If you haven’t heard this word much in the past, then get ready. Skeuomorphism is going to be the buzzword for the new iOS7 system, expecting to be heard in every technology newscast, read on every techno-geek’s blog site, and probably offered as a word in every grade school spelling bee. Skeuomorphism simply means, “making something appear as if it is made out of something else“. An example of this is the old iOS6 notes app that appeared as if it were made from a yellow legal pad from the 1970’s, complete with margins and college-ruled lines. The next version of software will look very different.


Expect a “Flatter” Aesthetic

Even though these skeuomorphic features were the brainchild of Steve Jobs himself, Apple is moving in a completely new direction by embracing a more visually “flatter” aesthetic. The iOS7 software will be a radical new design that will not easily be mistaken for its earlier predecessor, iOS6. No longer will we have the embellishments of bezels, shadows, and gradients that are now providing the faux 3-D effects that we have come to know and love.

For example, the current appearance of the navigational compass feature looks like a real handheld brass mechanism complete with a spinning dial. The new version will utilize simple letters, numbers, and lines on a translucent background. However, the interesting parallax effects programmed into the new iOS7 will still manage to provide great depth and contrast to the other apps and icons on the desktops. Change is good! And Apple definitely does a great job!



61 thoughts on “Skeuomorphism is the new buzzword for Apple’s iOS7”

  1. Yes. I get the first comment dib. It is the first time it happens to me; I feel special.

    Fun how this new word is going to trend and it is exactlywhat Apple wants. They are so good at doing this kind of marketing ploy. Props to them for knowing which strings to pull.

    • Haha first reply on the first comment! I’m riding on your coattails to glory!!

      Okay – so Apple is great at branding and creating a new buzzword, makes sense but at the end of the day it looks as if they’re just shiny-ing up the same old thing. “Flatter” UI? Does that sound like Metro to anyone else? That said, the Metro look isn’t exactly appealing, I’m not sure why Apple has opted to move in the same direction.

      • Yeah, they really gave themselves some nice exposure with creating this brand new word, didn’t they? I wonder if in a couple of year, Skeuomorphism won’t be included in the dictionary?

        Even without Steve Jobs (which will be missed) Apple is still going very strong because of the legacy Jobs left there.

    • A lot of the users of the new iSO7 say that they are quite confused on how to work it. Apple is sending updates tro explain it.

  2. Glad to hear Apple is moving Bluetooth and Wifi from the settings to the Control Center. I use my iPhone at school and every time it falls asleep, I have to keep reconnecting it to Wifi. I don’t see why they are putting such a big emphasis on skeuomorphism though. Guess it must be for marketing.

  3. They’re losing their innovation from launch to launch, most of the upgrades they showed on this iOS7 seemed spin-offs from android previously existing features aswell as other already existing in the other mobile OS, I’m not saying that it’s bad for apple to trying to look more alike the competition and extracting the good from them but for the longtime apple users, this lack of innovation isn’t that good, because from here on it’ll only get worse, apple already lost a massive amount of money earlier this year, they’ve actually lost enough money to buy google TWICE, in something like an 8month time frame and that’s just not acceptable for a company like apple.

    • You know what they say… what goes up must come down. When you’ve been sitting easy in first place for as long as Apple has, you start losing sight of what innovation actually means. You start resting on your laurels and the next thing you know, you have Android banging on the door. You have Microsoft trying to enter the mobile market and you have a whole slew of hardware manufacturers that are making functional AND aesthetically pleasing devices.

      “Lets add an S on the end of it and call it new!”

  4. I have most of the features stated on the first part readily available on my Android phone. Skeuomorphism will be interesting though. About the plans, I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I’ll echo what was said by the previous poster, it looks like Apple is losing that Steve Job magic they used to have. Who knows, skeuomorphism might be a game changer. Or not. I’m still skeptical.

  5. I really and truly love all the new features getting added to IOS 7. Im glad apple is making all these great iPhone changes even with Steve Jobs not there. IOS 7 is really amazing looking and I cant not wait to download it to my iPhone 5 this late fall/early winter.

  6. These innovations look quite promising. Apple needs to come up with something to differentiate itself once again. Maybe this IOS 7 is a step in that direction with these new features that are time saving and more user friendly. Even something like easy access to an LED flashlight while very simple is still so handy and useful to have.

    Still one can’t help but feel nostalgic for the heyday of Apple when Steve Jobs brought forth those visionary innovations never before seen — certainly the iPhone as an example of this — and we all got so excited over such futuristic products that we ourselves would be able to own.

  7. That sounds really interesting. Although I am not fond of them changing it up, I would like to see what they have in mind. To be honest, I don’t think they can do any better than what they already have.

  8. I’m not an iOS user myself, but it does sound as if it’s changing for the better. The idea of being able to swipe to see a control panel, and control settings that way, is a great idea and one which is already used to great effect by Android.

  9. The control center and shortcut thing sounds like Apple is copying Android… The shortcut menu has been a part of Android since forever. But it’s good that Apple uses the good things of Android and incorporates them in their design.
    No 3D effect will be strange at first, but I hope I’ll get used to it after a while

    • This talk of copying designs make me giggle. I’m trying to imagine how each organizations’ legal department are thinking of how to sue the other company. Not really picking one company over the other since I’m sure they’re doing the same things anyway in the name of competition.

  10. It is funny how they are changing up the design even though it has work for them for a while. It is always comfortable using the familiar icon that help us remember what the icon is like for the ebook, a book shelf. I get it that they are trying to appeal the the constantly changing world world but this is just a nuisance to other to start recognizing the features again.

    • It’s just a trend.
      “Mainstream design” has moved on from gradients and glossy buttons to a more flat appeal.

      Windows does this, Apple does this… it’s everywhere. Even the eBay logo is now flatter!

      Personally, I like it. I was always fond of simplistic and this seems to approach it a bit more. The whole “web 2.0”-style has never really appealed to me. I’m not an iOS user, but if I were, I would be very happy with iOS7.

  11. Very interesting word. To be honest, for the old ios6 notepad, I liked what they did. I’m not to sure if I will be to big of a fan of IOS7, I don’t like how the apps look, however, it will still be interesting to find out how things work.

  12. I think IOS6 is skeuomorphic, not IOS7. As you note, the Notes function looked like a real notepad. I would expect the Ivy icons to be much less representational. Although those that have had betas are in NDA territory, the “buzz” is for the flatter look of icons.
    The rest will have to wait until the RestOfUs get our hands on it.

    • You’re right…I didn’t notice that!

      Why will skeuomorphic be the buzz word for iOS 7? As it was noted, the previous iOS versions were using this design practice and iOS 7 is in fact actually ditching it!

      If anything, it will be said that skeuomorphic is a thing of the past now!

  13. It’s weird hearing about iOS having new features that are already in Android. Apple used to be copied by their competitors and now they’re taking in some ideas already done by others. I only knew about skeumorphism because of this blog but what if it’s a concept we already know (I really think we do) that Apple just gave a new name to sound fresher?

  14. I kinda liked the way iOS has always looked, keeping my theme always the same. The new colorful scheme of the upcoming iOS7 is kinda disappointing to me but I’ll probably use it anyways just for the new features and such. But I’m pretty sure it’ll be better than I think it will be.

    • Boy, I hope so.
      The challenge is to have it work better to get things done, not just to look pretty. But the look is the first thing you notice, so it is a hook on it.
      As I said, we will know when we get to use it.

    • While long-time users of iOS devices will tend to stick with Apple even with new look that might tend to be a miss for many, keep in mind that it might not be the same for others. This is why it’s going to be exciting on how the market will react to iOS7. Will Apple be able to keep their game up, blow our minds or will it fall flat on its face with the new, flatter design?

      • Yes, indeed. I know I will use it, but I wonder if it will draw the Android users. Good thought there.

        • As an Android user, these changes seem to me to only close the gap between iOS and Windows mobile environment. The homogenization across the board is getting really tiresome – the customizability that Android continues to offer is what keeps me sticking to them.

          • nonsiccus, I agree. I feel less and less inclined to switch to the iPhone from Android even with the new iOS7. The cost savings alone, both on the device and the plan, are well worth sticking with what I have. Android is what I have always had.

            Still I always like to stay apprised of what Apple has in the works even if I don’t adopt it.

        • The so-called innovations of iOS, I think I can try to replicate with my Android phone. So, even if Apple keeps on making their stuff shinier, it’s not really enough to get me to switch because I feel like my freedom to customise my device will be compromised.

  15. I would be lying if I said I don’t love iOS 7 on my iPhone 5. I’ve been on the beta for weeks and love the way how it feels so new while still having the ease and familiarity of the old.

    They’ve really put a lot of thought into even the smallest of changes and these small changes are what makes the whole OS so beautiful now.

    • Are you really seeing that much of a difference? To me, it seems as if the changes are mostly superficial without substantial enough improvements under the hood to really justify the fanfare.

      • The control centre in my opinion is an update which was much needed and it’s great to see it finally implemented.

        Other than that the look and feel though as you said is the main change, but that really does make a big difference as it feels like you own a completely new phone.

        And all Apple apps of course have also been updated, some with even more functionalities added.

        One of my new favourite feature though is the new panaroma wallpapers which can be put.

  16. I’ve really looking forward to IOS 7 since it was first revealed. I admit, when I first heard the rumors about how it would be much different than the IOS we had come to know and be more flattered, I was a little apprehensive about it. After seeing it in action though, I can say for sure that I am going to love. The new design is so sleek and smooth.

  17. I’m really looking forward to the next OS. the pictures that have come out make it look really cool. One of apple’s main features is the way they design their products and I think O.S 7 has the best interface I’ve ever seen. Really looking forward to it!

  18. I have mixed feelings when it comes to Apple’s new iOS 7. iOS 7 is something that could be easily described as being “skeuomorphism” because it does look like it is made out of something else. It is not anything that looks graphically similar to the past operating systems at all. The interface is completely redone. I believe that this may be a big step for Apple however not a bad one at that. The only issue that I have with it is the lack of support for the older devices. As an active iPod Touch 4G user I am very disappointed that Apple would drop future updates so quickly.

  19. When using Music app from iOS7 I am not able to control the skip track from a paired car BT player. Also when tried to to skip a track from control center, its not doing so until I get inside the Music app and skip that track to next one. Is there any setting that needs to be modified?

  20. I did like the effect Notes had at looking like a pad of paper. If they are planning more of that, I am definitely interested in it. I’ll be checking out iOS7 as soon as it is available to download on my iPad Mini.

    I’m interested in testing it out for myself.

    • Actually they’re doing the opposite of it. They’re ditching those effects and making everything flat.

      The notes app, the calendar..everything is flat now. iOS 6 and below are the versions which used it, which is to change with iOS 7.

  21. I too did not know about this, but it looks like they are moving in a good direction. I look forward when it comes out and seeing all the new features it has. Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us.

  22. Skeuomorphism to become the new trending technological term? Oh boy, here we go now. But Apple always knows what they’re doing. They have got the significance of a topflight brand name and they are very adept marketers, so if they believe this is going to work, it most likely will.

  23. I’m going to upfront and say I’m an android user and not an Apple user for my phones and tablet. I’m familiar with apple interface from their computers, which I don’t own, but seriously would love to.

    So, I know the icons and when I read they are taking away the current looks and replacing them with simple ones, I wonder “Why?” The retro note pad and real-looking compass, for example, are part of what makes apple, apple. So what is the point of changing them?

    True, it doesn’t affect usability. In fact, its purely an esthetic change. But it’s not making the interface more visually appealing. It sounds like it will be less appealing. As some of the other posters have said, it is tweaking small things to appear to be changing and upgrading. It’s not even change for the sake of change.

  24. Well, I hope the next change would be more revolutionary than this (or just bigger). With Microsoft buying Nokia, Windows Mobile might be something Apple should look out for (not highly probable but hey, it’s a possibility!). Google’s doing a lot of crazy stuff that looks like it’s leaving Apple behind farther than ever so they really have to step it up.

  25. I wonder if that word is really going to generate the anticipated buzz. I can’t even pronounce it and I am skilled with languages. I will take your word for it though as Apple is a true trailblazer in the marketplace.

    I am looking forward to the flatter aesthetic. That certainly is a step in the right direction. I’ll try to learn how to pronounce skeuomorphism and see if anyone recognizes the word when I use it amongst my tech geek friends in a conversation.

    • The only reason I can spell it is because it’s part of the name of the link. To be honest, I’ve checked other news about iOS7 and haven’t really encountered the term.

      • That’s because it’s not the term to define iOS 7. It was the term which could be used for iOS 6 and the previous iOS versions as it used many apps which had this. The notes app was made like an actual notepad, calendar was like an actual calendar and so on…

        iOS 7 actually is moving away from it, so why will people start using it now?

        • I think we will be seeing a lot of discussion about whether or not the iOS 7 and its departure from the skeuomorphism of iOS 6 was wise on the part of Apple especially since reportedly it was Steve Jobs who had an interest in that particular design aesthetic. I have read some articles here and there on the shift away from skeuomorphism and what it may mean for Apple’s future direction.

          It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds once iOS 7 is available.

        • Hah, I don’t really know. I’m sort of busy using my Android phone and making it look like whatever I want it to be. Don’t need no buzzword for that.

  26. This is a little disappointing, I liked the skeuomorphic look. But I’ve seen screenshots and videos of iOS7 in action and I have to say I love the look of it. Maybe my favorite thing is the new “control center”; slide up from the bottom and you have instant access to settings like brightness and wi-fi connection. Should have been implemented from the start but I’m glad it’s finally being done.

    • I actually like the functional improvements more than the visual ones. It’s something that has been with Android for a long time so if Apple wants to win some Android users over, this could be the start. Of course, they’d have to get more improvements to win -me- over!

  27. I’ve been one of the beta testers for iOS7 and have welcomed the design changes. At first it felt very “kiddish”, but when you start customizing wallpapers, you immediately see the aesthetic of the whole UI change. Switching out of a light colored wallpaper to darker tones definitely made the UI feel more matured. And honestly the “flatter” aesthetic of the new icons throughout the system have that modern appeal to it.

    Getting rid of the shadows, gradients, and bezels from the iOS6 makes sense, especially with the parallax effect build into iOS7. Having multiple layers of 3D would clash with each other, and not look as clean when users experience some of the translucent features in menus like Control Center or even the Notification screen.

    • I don’t know. I’ve seen screens of it, it seems very bright, not great for my eyes. Although it’s good Apple made things easier in terms of accessing common functions. I’ve also heard multitasking is easier now but again, all these features doesn’t really make me want to jump ship.

      • I agree, the screen shots that I’ve seen are also very bright in color. It does sort of look childish or kiddish as the poster above you describes. I am not a big fan of the changes. Has anyone heard the word skeuomorphism incorporated in daily lingo? I have heard it once on the radio but no one in my social circles has used the word in conversation with me outside of electronic chat mediums.

  28. I think this new buzzword is utter nonsense. How can I even begin to pronounce that? That being said, I am looking forward to see what the new interface looks like, maybe they will release some photos soon!

  29. I’m happy for Apple users with this new update – they’ll be able to *finally* use a control centre and change the brightness without going to the settings WITHOUT jailbreaking! I remember using a non-jailbroken iPod and wondering why swiping down on the navigation bar didn’t work… I was pretty confused about why Apple thought that wasn’t a good idea.

    You sort of take it for granted in Android, I can’t imagine my life without being able to change settings at the swipe of a finger!

  30. The new IOS 7 update has changed a lot of things. The icons on the IOS 7 look different from the previous IOS. The update has made the IPhone run faster. The new multitasking feature is the mainly reason I update the software. I think Apple has spent a lot of time to work on the software. I believe Appke has finally listened to what consumers are asking.

  31. Apple veering away from skeumorphistic designs is a well-thought out move. The fact is, many people were not really fond of the faux leather-bound calendars and velvet game centers because they just don’t mesh as well with the other features of the OS. Besides, iOS 7’s flatter design is a welcome change to an already mature system — something needs to change to move design innovation forward.

  32. Why use a very difficult word, I can’t even pronounce it. However, as I’m an iPhone use, even if I ignore it, I will surely learn and live with it. Haha!

  33. I definitely like the look of the new icons. It’s cleaner looking. I just barely got around to updating my mom’s iphone to IOS7. The old icons look a bit cheesy now that I haven’t seen them in a while.

  34. What an interesting concept. I didn’t realize that the buzzword is “skeuomorphism” for iOS7. I read a lot of the technology blogs, but I haven’t found one that includes the details of the concept.

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