It is a pity that nobody has mentioned the impact of the "Aqua" interface of Mac OS X in all this.
Aqua was the name that Apple gave to the style of user interface that it introduced in Mac OS X. It changed the software of the Mac so that it does not look like this:
… To look like this:
Here is Steve Jobs presenting it for the first time at MacWorld San Francisco 2000. As he says:
One of the design goals was when you saw it, you wanted lick.
There is no doubt that the immense popularity of the iMac was a great influence on the appearance of Aqua with all its buttons and striped and translucent stripes.
Aqua was a big change in user interfaces; they were predominantly drawn by the operating system to be defined mainly as layers and layers of bitmap graphics (or even vectors). Windows XP followed this same idea in 2001; his Moon UI looked like this:
When it was launched, Aqua made a kind of splash similar to that of the iMac when it was first launched. It felt like for the next 5 or more years, everything from third-party designers had an unnecessary brightness:
But even in spite of the popularity of plastic aesthetics of bright and translucent colors, Apple has become increasingly restricted with its hardware designs over time:
The relentless march of material design, simplification and style in the hardware had a similar effect on the software: transparency was reduced, the visibility of stripes faded to disappear completely, the introduction of polished metal interfaces, all the I walk up to something not particularly different. to the old predominantly gray interface of MacOS 9:
This change is not specific or exclusive to the Mac; It happened throughout the industry.
Meanwhile, however, iOS was released (then called iPhone OS), which looked like this:
And as you almost certainly know, the iPhone and the iOS itself have had great success. Many, many applications (including Skype) were launched with overlays of bright icons so that they look appropriate next to those icons.
But, as Mac OS X went from being exciting and refreshing to a gloomy appearance over the years, the original screen capture of the iPhone's operating system interface is now 6 years old, and now it looks like this:
… As you can see, there has been an extremely slow and unusually slow progress with respect to the appearance of Apple's mobile offering.
The old adage says something like:
If you are not improving, you go backwards.
And so, to stay more or less the same, two of Apple's main competitors in that space (Google with Android and Microsoft with Windows Phone) have seized the opportunity to do something radically different, and to advance the state of the art itself themselves, leaving them looking like this:
Updates: I thought I would add a little more comment on the visual languages "Holo" and Android Metro, and how the two manufacturers describe the flatter and less bright aesthetics for designers:
When they first announced the design language of Metro (or as they call it now, the "Microsoft design language"), Microsoft made some veiled blows to the brilliant aesthetics of Apple's iOS. One of the main claims that continue to make is that Metro's flatter and typographic design style is more "honest" and "authentically digital". On its Windows Phone design principles page, Microsoft is quite explicit about it:
Create a clean and useful experience leaving only the most relevant elements on the screen.
When it comes to designing great app experiences, we believe in content, not Chrome.
Focusing on the content on Chrome reduces unnecessary elements, allowing the content of your application to shine. Let people immerse themselves in what they love and explore the rest.
Later they say:
Being authentically digital means going beyond the rules and properties of the physical world to create new and exciting possibilities in a purely digital space. Make the most of the digital medium.
Be "infographic." The delivery of information is the main objective, not the envelope that surrounds it. Adopting the infographic approach will help you optimize the Windows Phone user experience
Regarding the redesign of its logo, Microsoft once again mentions the justification of being "authentically digital" as its reasoning to eliminate brightness:
It was important that the new logo take our Metro principle to be "authentically digital". That is why we want to say that it does not try to emulate false industrial design features, such as materiality (glass, wood, plastic, etc.).
For its part, unfortunately, Google has not been very explicit about their intentions in the creation of Holo. While they have definitely moved strongly towards the so-called flat design style, they have not been particularly explicit about why. With respect to the icons (which are at the center of your question), they simply say:
Use a different silhouette Front three-dimensional view, with a slight perspective as if seen from above, so that users perceive a certain depth.
However, they delve into their developer documentation, where they say (emphasis mine):
The icons should not be cropped. Use unique forms when appropriate; remember that startup icons must differentiate your application from others. Additionally, Do not use a too glossy finish unless the object depicted has a shiny material.
Its previous Gingerbread design guidelines and earlier (ie, pre-Holo), also explicitly mention the texture ("The icons must have a non-glossy textured material"), with the full description of the materials described as such:
The launcher's icons must use tactile materials, with superior illumination and texturing. Even if your icon is just a simple form, you should try to render it in a way that looks like it's sculpted from some real-world material.
Android Launcher icons are …
- Modern, minimalist, matt, tactile and textured.
- Color palette oriented forward and upward, complete and limited
Android Launcher icons are not …
- Old, too complicated, bright, flat vector
- Rotated, Trimmed, Overlapped
Clearly, it has been the intention of Google and Microsoft practically since the beginning of their respective current mobile operating systems to avoid the aesthetic iOS / Aqua / glossy.