When Apple promoted Jony Ive to lead its software design last week, some people rejoiced because they believed it meant the death of some hokey design elements in iOS.
There has been a debate inside Apple and out, about whether Apple's design sensibility should remain "skeuomorphic"--software features looking like real-world devices--or whether Apple should just drop this and pursue a more modern design.
Specifically, observers have questioned whether Apple should have, for instance, a Podcast app that has a digital reel-to-reel tape player, or a Notes app that looks like a fake legal pad, since there is no practical need for a yellow background with lines on an iPhone.
While these design elements may be eradicated now that previous software chief Scott Forstall is gone, there are bigger problems for Apple to solve than whether the Notes app looks like a fake legal pad, says Kontra at Counternotions, a smart anonymous blogger who writes about Apple and design.
Apple's software, while the best in the world, still has flaws that aren't skin deep, says Kontra: "Apple software — especially its self-declared future, iOS — needs some serious overhaul both in aesthetics and experience, and far more in the latter department."
The question for Apple: Can Jony Ive handle both of those responsibilities?
Ive has proven himself to be a very capable hardware designer. Apple's iPhones, iPads, laptops, and desktop computers are the best looking gadgets on the market. Apple is betting that his eye for design will translate into software.
But software, as Kontra points out, is about more than just looks. It's about "the behavioral aspects of application design in general." In other words, Ive has to understand how software works, not just what it looks like.
One example of Apple's user experience lagging from Kontra: "Six items that drain mobile device batteries (GPS, WiFi, cellular radio, Bluetooth, notifications and screen brightness) still require laborious, multiple clicks in multiple places, not immediately obvious to non-savvy users to turn on and off, without any simple, thematic or geo-fenced grouping."
On Android-based Samsung phones, you just swipe from the top of the phone and you have a options to turn on or turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, sound, airplane mode, and a bunch of other options. It's pretty simple.
There are other examples of where the user experience needs to be better. It's not just that Apple Maps are inaccurate from time to time, it's that the search engine for Maps needs to be better. Siri needs a better database powering it. Apps should be able to work together. And so on.
The main point is that if you're obsessing over what iOS looks like under Ive, you're missing out on something much more important: how will it work?
More From Business Insider