Googling for what's news in Android Lollipop, I came across the concept of skeuomorphic design for the first time. I understand that this term means a digital design that retains aesthetic features from its physical origins.

I've also read about the examples, e.g. wooden bookshelves in iBook, but hope to see a side-by-side pictorial comparison of the recent move from skeuomorphic to flat design by both Apple and Google. Being a regular consumer, I've actually NOT noticed this move until I read about the concept.

Disclaimer: This question is from an ordinary smartphone user, not a UX designer.

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about showing examples of different design techniques. There is no single accurate answer to this subjective question. Nov 13, 2014 at 7:21

1 Answer 1


Skeuomorphism was a defining characteristic of iOS until last year's release of "flat" iOS7. A quick Google search for iOS6 vs iOS7 flat design returns tons of design articles, comparisons, gripes, rants, etc. The images tab of that search has lots of side-by-side examples.

Some key differences include reduction (or outright elimination) of depth cues like shadows, bevels, and gradients; also reduction of "realistic" textures designed to look like wood, glass, metal, or fabric (the "green felt" of iOS game center is a common example). An extreme example of the shift in design is how they turned obvious, tactile, gradient buttons into nothing more than a borderless hyperlink.

Google's most recent shift for Android is toward what they call "Material Design," which combines these ideas. They use flat, bold color with minimal shadows, but animations that aim to mimic working with real objects like paper & ink. Although visually "flat" the interaction is still "lifelike." This is similar in some ways to animations and dynamics in iOS7/8 - visually flat, but bouncy & responsive in a way that feels natural.


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