Full Metal interface

11 Nov 2004

Many users are divided over Apple’s use of brushed metal windows. My personal feeling is that I like it in certain apps, but not others. It’s overuse by Cupertino seems to have given many independent software developers the impetus to use brushed metal too, in an attempt to ‘keep up’. While the Human Interface Guidelines are full of good solid reasoning, it doesn’t help when Apple go against them, and then produce beautiful interfaces as a result. It feels as if the pressure is on – you must use metal for your app to look cool and sell.

I’ve been following what John Gruber has to say on the matter with interest, there are two excellent articles about this subject, and I’ll try not to go over old ground, but there is one argument I’ve not heard before, and it’s the reason I like Safari’s metal interface – differentiation. Take a look at this example of one of my favourite sites in Camino:

Airbag in as seen in Camino

and now in Safari:

Airbag in as seen in Safari...mmmm...

I don’t know about you, but I find the Safari one much more pleasant to look at, because there is a clear demarkation between what is the browser, and what is the web page. I haven’t done a survey, but I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of web sites have white, or at least pale backgrounds. In the standard aqua coloured window the distinction isn’t as immediately clear. I’m not sure why this thinking doesn’t extend to other areas such as text documents, but there it is. I like differentiation.

(Having said all that, one thing that does give me that differentiation in a non-metal app, is the grey tab background on my safari style tabs for Firefox…

Airbag in Firefox

I find that the darker grey is just enough to create a visual separation.)

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