OS X, the world’s most advanced operating system, took some large leaps forward in its latest release called Yosemite. Technology such as Continuity, Mail Drop, and users being able to send and receive phone calls via the Mac, all in a speedy new OS are great advances. But for all of Yosemite’s achievements on the tech side of the house, did it go too far with its look and feel?
Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, is not only in charge of hardware design, but also leads the team responsible for iOS and OS X’s look and feel, known as the User Experience (or UX). Ive’s first UX reveal came in the form of iOS 7. By any measure it was a jarring experience. The OS became simple in form, flat as a pancake with an intuitive feel, but some colors were drastically faded, while others were jarringly bright. The mobile OS took many technological steps forward, but it was not easy on the eyes in the least.
Over time Ive refined iOS, and for the most part, completed the task in iOS 8. Looking back, iOS 7’s design language almost looked rushed, with iOS 8 having very few UX complaints to its name. iOS 8 is simply what iOS 7 always wanted to be.
But what of OS X Yosemite? Is it another iOS 7, or did Ive and the team learn from user feedback?
The fear of another eye fatiguing OS being brought to life in Yosemite is non-existent. Yosemite certainly has its design quirks, but Ive did not introduce any overly saturated icons, as the OS utilizes a sensible, calming, color palate. Following the iOS theme of flat, Yosemite introduces that concept across the board. From Safari to Mail flat is the mantra. App icons are also flat and while they still contain a bit of skeuomorphism, within applications the idea of real-world nobs and buttons are almost non-existent.
Discussing the design language amongst my colleagues, the largest areas of concern crop up in the areas of Yosemite’s overly muted colors. Stacked windows are nearly identical in color, making them difficult to differentiate. Within Safari, one tab to another blend in far too easily. It becomes nearly impossible to tell between the active and inactive tabs when a bright or rich color behind Safari is bleeding through the transparent design.
Gray scale is the theme of the day with Yosemite. Mail and other pre-installed applications have become so monochromatic, it makes me wonder whether Ive used a Mac Plus to design Yosemite’s color palette?
Not being overly critical, the look and feel of Yosemite is an advancement, with a clean and snappy feel. But there are certainly design elements where Ive’s team can enhance the OS with just a few simple color, shadow or saturation tweaks to make the interface even easier to use. With Ive’s history of iOS refinements, we expect nothing less with OS X Yosemite.
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