Metro: Better than reality

I’ve been consulting on a project that will output native applications running both on Windows 8 and iOS. One of the main concerns is ensuring experience and interface consistency in cross-platform design, which can be rather tricky when those platforms have design principles standing in direct contradiction to each other.

Key difference between iOS and Windows 8 I found while digging through the guidelines is how they relate the users to the physical world. iOS tries to replicate the world we live in by designing digital interfaces according to what the user is familiar with. Windows 8 takes a different stance, it recognizes that physical and digital are not the same and should be treated very differently. Furthermore, the crazy Microsoft guys go as far as saying we can design digital better than physical:

Be authentically digital

Take full advantage of the digital medium. Remove physical boundaries to create experiences that are more efficient and effortless than reality. Being authentically digital means embracing the fact that apps are pixels on a screen and designing with colors and images that go beyond the limits of the real world.

Metro Style Design Principles

and I completely agree. Regardless of cost, is it practical to impose (physical) limitations both on our design capabilities and also on what we can offer to user’s experiences ? I shout no, but also recognize the danger of an ever increasing learning  slope.

The little green robot sides with iOS, Android Design Principles do a very good job of addressing user needs but they also fail short of improving those needs beyond what physical world can offer. Google’s argument lays in that interface resembling physical objects reduces the cognitive effort while making experience more satisfying.

And that is the big question, how much longer should we, or more relevantly in this case, how much longer can we displace all that our imaginations can conjure but is not capable by strictly physical reasoning? Not for long I think. Release date is set for October.