As Apple uses Soft-UI: design the future

Как Apple использует Soft-UI: дизайн будущего

UI designer Malevich Michal (Michal Malewicz) analyzed changes in the interface macOS Big Sur to show where to move the industry. In his opinion, Apple took a course on Soft-UI.

We have translated the article into Russian is not a language, and added a little background information.

What is Soft-UI?

Как Apple использует Soft-UI: дизайн будущего1
Source: dribbble

This is a new trend in creating user interfaces. He uses shadows and highlights to create the effect that the object is squeezed or pressed into the opposite screen.

Soft-UI is also referred to as numeriska and eomorphisms. It is believed that the name of the style comes from a combination of the words «new» and «skeuomorph». We’ll get to, but a little bit later.

Where is this going?

Focus on how to change the user interface of the macOS. He passed through the first bitmap representation, then was Aqua style, then more modern styles, and finally all gathered in the brand new consistent design language.

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The main styles of design Mac OS

Changes to mobile and desktop OS show how the design works now best. Michal suggests that the Soft-UI will remain the favorite until the advent maringovich displays, capable of creating embossed buttons from the flat surface of the display.

This confirms the Fluent UI from Microsoft. Designer notes the similarity of the styles of Apple and Microsoft, Recalling how Apple ridiculed the similarity of the Windows Vista OS X.

For example, here are the serial mayhem Windows Vista at the presentation of WWDC 2006. And 14 years later Apple is now adopting the trend of design at Microsoft. Such cases.

Now let us turn to specific manifestations of Soft-UI in macOS.

More rounded corners

New users of Apple products are unlikely to remember that the company always sought to rounded corners. And with the development of the UI they become more rounded.

The first version of iPhone OS (Yes, it was called that way) included a square switches and panels. But the sharp corners look more intimidating and less friendly.

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On the left is the first version of iPhone OS. Right — a more modern execution of the tumblers

So Apple modified the switches to the more rounded versions we see now.

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Screenshot of the macOS Big Sur

But the company did not stop there and also changed the corner radius of the icons. Now a similar style of icons comes to macOS.

Windows, panels, and page action queries (Action sheet) is also a bit rounder. Not without the help of iPhone X.

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UI corresponds to the curve display

You noticed that after «ten» almost all the following iPhone received a display with rounded corners. The range of iPad Pro went in the same direction. Here is the iOS interface and iPadOS rounded to match.

In General, rounded angles there is clearly a long time.

The transparency and blur of the background

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Home screen iOS 6
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Home screen iOS 7

Most users disliked ultraminimalist in combination with ultra-thin fonts in iOS 7. But the release of this OS has brought great popularity to blur the background and transparency.

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It looks like the sidebar
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So look for clues

Now, the background blur becomes more noticeable as on the side bar and in tooltips. Allowing parts of the background to Shine through, blur background indicates that a particular part of the window «connected» with the entire OS. Particularly well this trick works with the side panel.

Microsoft has a similar approach to the use of transparency. It is based on layers.

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The separation of the layers uses a known concept when a bright surface is closer to the user, and the lower levels become darker. This approach creates a hierarchy even without the translucent effect.

Michal has doubts in this version, and believes that a solid color will make the separation clearer.

Unified icons (in part)

Michal believes that the transition to unified icons will be gradual. Apple wanted to keep enough «realism» in the style of icons for macOS, but at the same time, to bring it closer to the mobile OS.

Here’s how to change Finder icon:

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Icon is easier if we compare with the average versions. It lost its rectangular form and got a thin smile. The bending angle of the smile has also changed, making the icon more friendly.

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The toolbar icons in the macOS also become more uniform with badges and iOS iPadOS. Icon style again rounded, friendly and open. The strokes are thick enough so they are easy to understand, and the icons themselves don’t have superfluous decorations.

A skeuomorph?

macOS was one of the last bastions of skeuomorph elements. Now they are collected in numeris and combined with modern flat surfaces. This gives the OS a new, modern look, but also retains her own style.

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Michal believes that now is macOS in the middle of the road before more extensive redesign aimed at minimalism.

Major changes in the interface of the macOS is not happening, to avoid experience with iOS 7. Yes, in the new OS much will change, but it takes familiar elements from iOS and iPadOS.

Reference: the skeuomorph interfaces is manifested in copying the look and appearance of real objects. For example, take the hammer on the Xcode icon, or notes in iOS 6, which looked like a real paper notebook.


In previous releases of macOS appeared «dark mode» and font San Francisco mobile OS. The system is now close to Apple Design consistency across all your platforms.

Michal believes that Apple would not bring the design of their OS to numerrita no rigorous research on this. Since Apple has relied on similar design, so it is suitable for most users.

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