I’m a proud and not-too-bitter veteran of Apple’s ill-advised infatuation with brushed metal-like user interfaces. So when I hear people complaining vociferously about the garish new appearance of some of the apps found in Mac OS X Lion, I shrug. Don’t get me wrong, I find the leather-like texture to be unsightly, but I figure I’ll survive it just as I survived brushed metal. What I regret much more is the regression in usability that this new focus on emulating real world objects brings.
Today and Yesterday
Here’s my biggest gripe: Lion’s lamentable revamp of iCal. This is the weekly view, which is for me my default and most useful view.
It shows all seven days of the week, obviously, but what it’s missing is an overview of the whole month, which to me is a necessary complement. By contrast, here’s how iCal looked and worked in previous versions of the operating system.
Note that the single month view can be expanded to a two-month or even three-month view by pulling on that bar just above the “April 2011” header to reveal additional months. Very handy.
You could argue that Apple is trying to leave these software-centric paradigms behind — the old iCal looked more like a software program than a calendar — and move to something more immediately recognizable to novices. My response to that is that even real world calendars supplement a weekly view with smaller monthly calendars. Here’s one example.
Several people have pointed out to me that BusyCal is a wonderful replacement for iCal that includes the same calendar view, but I had no real complaint with iCal until the omission of this one feature, and besides I don’t really need BusyCal’s many other features. I just find this kind of design decision — which I can’t imagine has any really compelling argument for it — capricious. I guess this is part of life under Steve Jobs.