Jason Santa Maria captures something about the “flat vs skeuomorphic” debate that’s been bugging me, especially when it comes to iOS. That much of the discussion is a red herring, because it often confuses aesthetics and interaction:
An interface has less to do with what it looks like and more with what it feels like in use.
Personally, I feel like the pendulum has swung too far with some newer iOS apps. We’re seeing flat designs that don’t feel at home on the platform. (A Windows 8 app should feel like a Windows 8 app, an iOS app should feel like an iOS app.) My sense is this is being driven as much by an urge to refute the “leatherette and torn pages” aesthetic as it is by any inborn preference for “flat.”
As with most such debates, the answer (and my guess for the route Apple will take as they refine—not overhaul—the visual language of iOS) is somewhere in the middle. We need to remember that aesthetics are a tool the well-rounded designer can wield to guide user behavior. Designers owe it to themselves to develop a full range of them, rather than getting boxed in by one interpretation of a particular style.