Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

On OS X’s ‘Missing’ Redesign

Stephen Hackett:

Yes, OS X Mavericks removes leather and some of the other silly things brought over from iOS, but the core look is still modern and clean, and more importantly, works really well with a mouse or trackpad. While Apple might “completely remake” OS X in the future, I don’t really see the need at this point.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Craig Hockenberry earlier this month. If you compare screenshots of OS X Mavericks with 10.0 Cheetah, you’d assume Apple has stagnated. Sure, the pinstripes have been removed and the more garish interface elements have been toned down, but everything is in a similar place. This isn’t stagnation, but refinement.

Consider a company that has done the opposite: in the same timeframe, Microsoft has released Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8. All of these have vastly different user interface elements and appearances; XP is bubbly, Vista is glassy, 7 is a refinement of Vista,1 and 8 is boxy and “flat”. Until Windows 8, none of these replaced PNGs fundamentally changed the way the operating system worked; Windows 8 was the first version optimized for a touch screen, so its interface had to change.

Is the latter really more representative of innovation or exploration? Apple got a lot of core interface concepts right in 2001, and they’ve continued refining and purifying that instead of futzing around with reskinning the whole interface in a different way with each new version. Unless Apple releases touchscreen Macs, I don’t think OS X is desperate for a redesign.

  1. I think Windows 7 is the pinnacle Windows version, especially from a user interface perspective. ↩︎