What Might iOS Look Like With Forstall Gone, And Jony Ive At The Helm?

Word got around last week that Scott Forstall, the man responsible for much of the visual design of Apple’s iOS, has parted ways with Apple due to disagreements over Apple Maps. As one of the primary creators the aesthetic of iOS, Forstall’s departure from Apple will likely cause the appearance of iOS to change significantly. Jony Ive will be taking over iOS design duties, in addition to his existing role as the designer of most of Apple’s hardware.

So what does this mean for the future of iOS? Well, the big difference will be a move away from skeuomorphism; that is, the idea of making the OS elements look like real world materials and mechanisms. From the iBooks app’s attempt to look like an actual bookshelf, to the inclusion of a “Corinthian leather” texture in many Apple apps, iOS is filled with examples of skeuomorphism. Forstall was a big fan of this approach, as was the late Steve Jobs himself.

With both of those men now gone from the halls of Apple HQ, and Jony Ive taking over where they left off, many of the skeumorphic elements of iOS will likely disappear. Ive has already expressed his desire to turn both iOS and OS X into cleaner, more minimalist interfaces.

A reader over at Cult of Mac has made a mock-up of what he thinks iOS might look like in the future:

Gone is the phony handwriting of the current iOS memos, and in its place is a cleaner, more utilitarian font that reflects the design imperatives of a Jony Ive-headed iOS design department. Changes like this likely be reflected everywhere in Apple’s software (including that bloody awful Game Center interface, ASAP, please).

The strange thing about a future of clean, crisp Apple interfaces is that Windows Phone 8 and its Metro UI is already kind of cornering that market. The folks at Microsoft have done a great job of delivering an incredibly clean aesthetic with their new mobile OS, and it’s going to be hard for Apple to move into that space without appearing to be stepping on Microsoft’s heels.

At the end of the day, Apple will have to find an aesthetic for iOS that balances the clean vision Ive has for it and the current interface cues that user have become comfortable with. By all means, Apple should dispense with the darker side of their penchant for skeuomorphism as soon as possible – we’re looking at you, iBooks, Game Center, Compass, etc. – and replace those elements with more modern looking designs. On the other hand, who doesn’t like the analog-feeling springiness of the iPhone home page, when you scroll to the edge of it and it bounces back?

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  • Erekless

    Who ever doesn’t like the ui right now is a plain idiot like this writer

  • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

    While I think skeuomorphism has its place–and the majority of iOS’ UI looks great–there are some places where it looks ugly. The fake leather on the iPad’s calendar app (which Steve Jobs insisted on, IIRC) as one example where I think Apple has gone wrong. Mitchell isn’t alone in disliking the majority of iOS’ UI, apparently it drives apple’s designer Jonathan Ive crazy!

    That said, I don’t think the ‘Crystal Interface’ looks great. It’s generic and disjointed. It looks like something out of Android. :P

    You also don’t have to call someone a plain idiot if you disagree with them. Mitchell and I argue constantly, but we both learn shit because we discuss our points respectfully.

  • Farids

    Being utility and minimalist oriented is something, but then, removing all contrast and the beauty of the interface is totally wrong! There has to be a balance. The problem with iOS is not the look. It’s an extreme conservative approach to the new and innovative tools in the new version. So conservative,it’s retarding the iOS evolution and dropping it behind the competition. 3 years ago, every player was imitating the iOS features. Now, the role is reversed, at least where iOS is looked upon. I’m hoping, Ive’s ever present exterior design innovation rubs on the iOS team and inspires them to move it to its true place: two jumps worth forward, at the least

  • http://twitter.com/BlackCl0udMY BlackCl0udMY

    hahahahaha… youngster also can create much better UI… so i guess that all this crap shit happened in Apple.inc doesn’t change a bit to consumer to buy and use iDevices.. even right now we Jailbreak it to get themes W.S.E…. so just sit tight and relax…

  • http://twitter.com/BlackCl0udMY BlackCl0udMY

    that is just a teasing dude… now we just received ios 6.0.1 update… it will take another year to reach up to ios 7….

  • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

    It’s not a teaser. It’s a mockup that was submitted to cult of mac.

  • balducien

    This mockup is definitely going in the right direction. A slim, light and minimalistic Interface is the way for me. iOS looks almost the same since 2007 while Android has improved significally (just compare a G1 with 1.0 to a Nexus 4 with 4.2) and it does look pretty nowadays. iOS needs that too, even if the overhaul is not that extreme like from Gingerbread to ICS, it could need one.

  • balducien

    If you want a note app like this, just install PlainText. Syncs all the notes in .txt to dropbox and does look awesome.