Up until today, the aesthetic of Apple's operating systems—and, as a result, the aesthetic of everybody else's operating systems—were defined by skeuomorphism, a word I had no idea existed and still have no idea how to pronounce but totally know what it means. So do you. It's this:
Thanks Wikipedia! In other words, it's something new that's designed to look like something old, something familiar—and it's what operating systems have relied on to help idiots like you and me use our computers and phones. It was a visual and emotional language that made it so mouth-breathers like us didn't have to learn programming language, and Apple, in particular, used it a lot—from folders and trash cans and address books to iBooks' wooden bookshelves and Game Center's dorky card table. But with their new iOS, they're getting rid of it. All of it. BURNING IT. Because now Steve Jobs is dead, and Apple designer Jony Ive is finally free at last to get rid of all that goddamn stitching and torn paper and green felt, and this is THE FUTURE.
I read a bunch of blogs about iOS 7 this morning (wheeee!), but the only thing I enjoyed reading was Claire Evans' A Eulogy for Skeuomorphism. I would advise you to read it to, should you be someone who uses computers or phones.
Our world of scrolling tabs and nesting folders, despite its lack of bearing to the modern office, is a sticky cultural space: here in 2013, it feels like a set of semantic parameters embeded into the system explicitly to remind us, the users, of our own history. As we employ the desktop metaphors, ubiquitously and unthinkingly, we incant the past. We stopped using scrolls a century ago, but with every web-browse we preserve the idea. Each of the individual skeuomorphic bits now vanishing from the Apple OS—woodgrain shelves stacked with files posturing as leatherbound books, et al—might have been inconsequential, but collecitvely, in concert with the broader metaphors of desktop and mouse, they breathed familiarity into an otherwise flat space, a space built by people but which creeps, perpetually, away from us. (Via.)