Visual Skeuomorphism is Dead; What About Audio Skeuomorphism?

Apple has proudly ditched skeuomorphism in its forthcoming OS X Mavericks and iOS 7; that’s the use of interface elements that look like items in the real world. In OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, this includes things like the fake leather in Calendar; the green felt in Game Center; and the faux hardcover binding in Contacts. iOS has some of these too: Game Center has the same green felt; Voice Memos shows an old-timey microphone; and Find Friends has stitched leather. Both OSs have horrid yellow, lined paper in Notes, and other elements of skeuomorphism can be seen here and there.

IMG_0645So if Apple’s ditched visual skeuomorphism, why not get rid of the audio version as well. On iOS, this includes keyboard clicks, lock sounds, and the whoosh you hear when sending emails. OS X has a number of “user interface sound effects,” which you can turn off en masse in the Sound preference pane. (On iOS, you can turn them off individually.)

But if we’re agreeing that showing a faux leather-bound book in an app’s interface is outdated, how long before we get rid of the sounds? While it’s useful to have some sort of feedback when your email gets sent, does it have to be a “whoosh,” the sound of something flying? And does the iOS camera – or any camera – need to have a shutter sound when you take a photo?

I think it’s time to go beyond these quaint, old-fashioned sounds and come up with some new forms of beeps to alert a user when something has happened. Personally, I’ve turned off most sounds on my iPhone, other than a ringtone and voice mail and text message alerts, and I only have a system beep on my Macs.

2 thoughts on “Visual Skeuomorphism is Dead; What About Audio Skeuomorphism?

  1. Good point. I wonder if they have already changed the audio. What about the old-fashioned telephone ring? I admit that I mostly have my phone on silent/vibrate these days, but if a phone rings I like the common ringtone I am familiar with.

    I like your point, but from a different perspective. Apple seem to be so keen to remove skeuomorphism, even though there’s a good reason for it to exist. If they keep the audio the same, it almost feels hypocritical of them to do so.

    • I agree with you. Why change something something, that was obviously working for years? Just fur the change of it…
      A little skeuomorphism here and there wouldn’t hurt at all.

      Regarding the audio issue, I’ve experienced countless times, that i make more typos when I have my iPhone on silent.

      I prefer audible feedback when I type with my smartphone keyboard. It makes my writing not only easier, but also faster.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.