With the release of Tiger, Apple has further confounded user interface wonks. First OS X was very stripy, then it was less stripy but with some apps inexplicably brushed metal. Now some apps, like Mail, have smooth windows in the foreground and stripy windows in the background while others, like Safari, are still brushed metal all the time. What gives?
To examine this question, we’ve asked New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman, who will take the pro-Apple side, to debate Beast, the Great Destroyer, a demonic force of ancient origin, who will take the anti-Apple side.
Mr. Kimmelman, you’re first.
KIMMELMAN: Brushed metal. Hard. Cold. Utilitarian. Unyielding. Yet it draws our touch as quickly as do the softest silks of Asia. Indeed, if ever there were an interface so soft and smooth as silk, it would be that of Mail 2.0. As Safari is dark and forbidden, Mail shines true as the purest silver. Apple’s contrasts are stark, but meaningful. Mail displays one’s inner light through words, while Safari is capable of dredging up the most bitter filth of the Internet where one best be shielded by… brushed metal. Truly the balance of yin and yang are on full display in Apple’s choice of window appearance. Bravo, Apple. Bravo.
Beautiful. Beast, the Great Destroyer?
BEAST, THE GREAT DESTROYER: APPLE’S INTERFACE DESIGN IS A HORRIBLE CONGLOMORATION OF SLAPPED-TOGETHER CONCEPTS THAT LEAD TO A JARRING USER EXPERIENCE. SWITCHING BETWEEN APPLICATIONS, ONE NEVER KNOWS WHAT TO EXPECT. CLEARLY THE SOFTWARE ENGINEERS AT APPLE WERE MARRIED TO DIVIDED IDEAS OF “WHAT LOOKS GOOD” AND IGNORED EVEN THEIR OWN PUBLISHED RULES. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN SAFARI AND THE ILIFE APPLICATIONS AND NEARLY EVERY OTHER APPLICATION IS AN UNNECESSARY DISTRACTION IN AN OTHERWISE ELEGANT INTERFACE.
Hmm. Beast, the Great Destroyer, was much better prepared than I thought he’d be. Kind of a letdown, actually.
BEAST, THE GREAT DESTROYER: IF IT’S ANY CONSOLATION, I ATE THE SOUL OF THAT GUY FROM THE TIMES.
Oh. Well… that’s something, I guess.
BEAST, THE GREAT DESTROYER: I… COULD EAT YOUR SOUL.
Mmm… no, thanks.
BEAST, THE GREAT DESTROYER: JUST TRYING TO HELP.
And I appreciate that.