iPhoto ’09 UI Observations

Posted on Jan 31, 2009 in Mac, Opinions, UI Design

Good artists copy, great artists steal.

We all know that Apple sets the bar for UI design in its own applications and most 3rd party apps try to follow Apple’s lead. That makes it all the more interesting to see Apple “borrowing” design cue’s from 3rd party developers.

The “corkboard” design that the eBay app iSale has used since its very first release in 2005 has been its most notable visual element. iPhoto ’09 uses a strikingly similar look for its new “Faces” feature. (Apple would have a hard time claiming they weren’t aware of the look – iSale has won 2 Apple Design Awards). But as the saying goes: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.




Is this thing on?

iPhoto’s other UI “quirk” is more difficult to explain. When you click through to view all found photos of a particular face, the scroll bar to the right of the window changes from the typical gray-blue look, to an almost imperceptible ghostly white (see screenshot).

iPhoto '09 active windowscroll-bar

Even worse: The scroll bar in its active state resembles exactly what Apple describes as the “inactive” state for scroll bars in its Human Interface Guidelines. In fact, the scroll bar doesn’t change its appearance at all when switching between active and inactive states.

iPhoto '09 inactive window

Don’t get me wrong: I’m, not a huge stickler for the HIG – usually “violations” are made because they create an interesting look whilst remaining functional. But the white toolbar doesn’t seem particularly inspired in any way, nor essential to the window’s overall appearance. But at the same time it’s hard to imagine it being an initial release error. Let’s just hope “ghost scroll” doesn’t spread to other applications…