Beautiful translucency in Yosemite
October 21st, 2014
I was just using iTunes, still exploring Yosemite and boom, there’s this stunning lovely translucent panel, an artifact of such artistry that it stopped me cold.
Ignore the exact message, just look at that alert! The translucency is visually beautiful, but more beautiful still is the care required to make it possible, the computational power, the delicate aesthetic balancing to ensure that what’s above is not rendered illegible by what’s below.
It didn’t just happen. Someone made it happen, and when you consider why someone would expend the great effort to do so, the simplest explanation to anyone but a hardened cynic is that someone cared. There, in an alert, was beauty. How remarkable is that?
Does it make the alert easier to read? No. Does it maybe even make it a little harder to read? Perhaps, but if so only to a vanishingly small degree.
To some the issue might stop there and the translucency would be rejected. But Apple appreciates there’s always a tradeoff in design, that there’s a tradeoff here involving local readability and global context. There’s content beneath that might provide context for the alert, so the translucency isn’t frivolous.
The easy way would have been to make the alert background partially transparent—alert.alpha = 0.8;—but that might have made the alert text difficult to read against an arbitrary background.
Translucency is much harder, but so much more beautiful and so much more appreciated. Thanks, Apple.