Apple’s Skeuomorphism of IOS 7 Aims to Seamlessly Blend Hardware and Software

While everyone is abuzz about IOS 7, its aesthetic experience of real-life visual metaphors have come full circle in Apple’s latest roll out of skeuomorphic features. Just in case you need a refresher of what exactly those skeuomorphic features are, it’s the page turn in your iBooks, the finger swipe of your music playlist, leather looking background of your phone’s daily planner or any feature that mimics actual interactions with physical objects.


In the early days of Mac OS and Windows this “close to real life” similarity was deemed necessary for users and Steve Jobs was notorious for his demanding of its perfection with the iPhone. Since then, skeuomorphism has come under criticism from many tech enthusiast for being old fashioned.

Fast Company recently revealed an oral history of Apple’s design approach and with it a detailed look at just how much time Jobs and company spent perfecting these visuals and their evolution up through IOS 7. It’s current state is a more subtle approach that aims to create a better balance between hardware and software. Former Apple designer Loren Brichter has noticed the shift from visually mimicking design to a more physically interactive design.

“The way they’re reimplementing the UI framework with physics–it just feels natural. They’re mimicking the real world. So in a way, the skeuomorphism, which was previously going into visual design, is now going into interaction design.”

One of the most noticeable new features with IOS 7 is the Parallax feature that has motion alerts synced in with your physical interaction of the phone. The phone’s M7 motion coprocessor allows it to act like a compass that track your movements – sway the phone from side to side and the background wallpaper and icons appear to bend on screen.

Besides just looking cool, this new take on skeuomorphism works to harmonize a blend of software and hardware. And yes, you still get your shutter clicks when taking a photo, despite its lack of necessity.

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