We’re creatures of circumstance, you and I, our every thought a product of evolution-forged genes, cultural imprinting, and personal histories. I don’t trust what I think or what I feel. One has to distance oneself from one’s opinions and emotions and examine them from outside. “Why do I think that? Why do I feel this way?” These are questions I ask myself all the time. Especially when I’m walking the dog, or when there’s nothing on the telly. Or my wife has been mean to me.
I make irrational snap decisions, I am judgemental and dismissive. Everything I can conceive of comes freighted with unwelcome baggage. Only by confronting the irrational with rationality – and then recognise that rationality to be the product of that selfsame, fundamental irrationality – can one even hope to find the smallest chance at objectivity.
So I’ve given it a few days, and I have decided: I’m not very keen on iOS7‘s weirdly toytown design choices. I thought I didn’t like it when I first updated, but decided to give it some time (see above, you dig?). Now I’m pretty sure I actually don’t like it. No, screw pretty sure, I don’t.
Is it the fact that the new interface hurts my eyes? Is it that it’s weirdly floaty in a science-fictionally cool, but not very user-friendly kind of way? Is it that the screens and various elements sweep over each other like badly executed edit wipes in a Star Wars movie? Is it that, as someone put it on Twitter, it makes my iPhone look like the toy idea of a phone from Peppa Pig magazine? (I should have favourited this tweet, so I could give due credit. If it was you, let me know. It made me laugh. Ironically, it was that tweet that made me finally click “update”. I am dangerously contrary). I have thought on the probability that I’m just reacting with jerking knees to the shock of the new, and have tried to weigh my opinions accordingly.
I still don’t like it.
After a long love affair, Apple appears to have shot skeuomorphism directly in the temple. I can see why. Perhaps the old interface, with its cosy, snug-bar aesthetic, did look a little fusty and old-fashioned. Perhaps it really is time to abandon the stabilisers of the familiar and ride off assuredly on the bicycles of new technology, our jacked-in heads held high. But it did work on the iPhone (and still does on my iPad), and the new one doesn’t work as well. I have not a clue about the new features. Like everyone else, I barely skim-read the proud proclamation accompanying the update. I just clicked “update” and “I have read your 33 pages of user agreement” (Of course I didn’t! Does anyone? When Apple come to collect my first-born, no doubt I’ll wish I had). Now I’m aged 40, and probably not fit to programme an antique VCR, I doubt I’ll find the new doodads easily. Perhaps I’ll ask a reader of Peppa Pig magazine to help me.
So I’m judging this update entirely on the look and immediate usability of it. I am sure 80% of this opinion is still “Urgh, it’s new. Don’t like it. Don’t LIKE IT!” rather than anything grown up. But 20% of it is “Ow! My fucking eyes!”, and that’s not good for something dependent on interaction with eyes.
The interface has all the hallmarks of something that has been prompted by a sudden desire to be different. It is a design led, rather than utility led, effort. I’ve been involved in a few of them myself, some even worked. But just because that green baize gaming table was a step too far (and it really was, I mean, really), it doesn’t mean you should burn the whole damn thing down to the ground.
No doubt in three months I’ll sheepishly re-read this and ajudge my past self very wrong, but until then, future me, I remain grumpily unconvinced.