What if Apple never changed? What if Jobs and company decided that they’d gotten it right—really, really right—with the classic Mac OS? What if every product thereafter would be iterative of its graphic design, with every title bar still rendered in Chicago bitmap font?
iOS 86, by designer Anton Repponen, is a conceptual mashup of iOS and the Mac OS of yore. And against the odds of time and technology, the old interface still looks stunning on one of the world’s most advanced smartphones. “To be honest I don’t really know [why it looks so good],” Repponen tells Co.Design. “Maybe it is because it just looks so clean and simple.”
His inspiration came, not from Apple, but from Photoshop. As a joke, he’d redesigned a real screenshot of Photoshop to look retro. When he loaded the edited image on his phone, “it just hit me,” he writes, and he designed iOS 86.
Yet despite iOS 86’s fanboy uptake—indeed, Repponen’s designs have already been ripped into a functional, downloadable skin for jailbroken iPhones—he’s the first to urge fans to see his work as “a collector item that’s just cool to look at,” not something we should attempt to use in our daily lives.
“It’s like car companies making new cars that look retro, just for collectors or exhibitions only, but not really for driving. I think what Apple has now is much better, and they spent a lot of time perfecting each element.”
His argument is probably true, and this skin could prove frustrating after a few minutes for reasons we haven’t even anticipated. But that’s not going to stop most of us from loading this black and white beauty onto our own iPhones, just to taste a piece of history that could have (never) been.