Monthly Archives: February 2013

Empty design

There’s a strange trend in apps at the moment and it’s exemplified by having almost no interface. I suppose Clear is perhaps the obvious example but others are appearing too. I often read reviews of apps, possibly written by 15 year olds who want “the latest thing” and get really excited about minimalist interfaces as they’re “cool” and those posters on Apple focussed websites who announce their boredom with the “tired Apple interface” and warn us that they will be switching to Android because it’s more up-to-date.

A company producing themes for developers to incorporate into their own apps now has a theme called “Metro” which looks remarkably like the interface on the new Windows phone. So, you can have your iOS app look like a Windows phone app. Maybe someone will bring out a Windows mobile theme that makes it look like iOS! Who knows where it will all lead.

It’s odd. The idea that an OS is useable and clear and is being refined with each release is not enough. It’s old. It’s familiar and it’s got buttons with text to indicate their function. So … let’s change it so we have to start all over again. The trend seems to be for apps where actions are initiated by swipes, pinches, flicks and the like. Gestures as interface are all very well but the major problem as I see it is that what if my idea for the result of a flick or swipe is different to yours? We will end up with three apps, say, where a swipe does different things in each. It will be like when I started coding way back in the 80s when the three main apps I used on CPM all had totally different interfaces and the commands to, say, exit the application were different in each app. That was fun.

The best take on this I’ve seen so far comes from the makers of the very handy Camera+ app and made me chuckle very loudly indeed. Have a read