At yesterday's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, the company unveiled laptops with longer-lasting batteries, high-powered desktops that look like sleek rubbish bins and evidence that the era of light flares and drop shadows may be mercifully coming to an end.
Apple didn't invent skeuomorphism but boy did they ever embrace it. Here's a typical iOS 6 home screen. Not only do the icons feature lighting effects, shadows, gradients and reflections; nearly every mockup of an iPhone features light and shadow across the device itself.
With iOS 7, it appears that all the scuttlebutt about Forstall (Apple's former iOS architect) vs. Ive (Apple's head of design) was right.
It also appears that Microsoft was right. About design. Before Apple. Yes, you read that right. The company that launched the first Microsoft store 8 years after the first Apple Store beat Apple to the bunch in embracing the flat, minimal aesthetic that will define the next generation of mainstream tech.
Alright, so no one can resist a subtle light effect to show just how shiny their glass displays are, but business leaders take note: if you're designing a website, an app or even an identity, choose your aesthetic wisely. We've formally passed a design tipping point, and from now on all those artificial effects will look dated and, well, affected.
*Think you'll miss the light, leather and woodwork? Get your fix of standout skeuomorphic design here.
Comparison chart by nielsboey.