Apple user interface guidelines might be more like those of other systems than you might think. While Apple products do have a decidedly unique and non-standard mindset and methodology, there are some rules to computing both in mobile and PC that transcend platform.
It is these transcendental traits that play the heaviest role in interface design, for the most part. It only becomes platform-important when it comes to aesthetics and theming, which are the final stages of an interface’s design. Therefore, we will talk about apple interface guidelines pointing out some of the constants and a few of the specifics that shows where it is and is not the same.
1 – Components
Components on Apple systems are more or less as diverse as those of Windows or a Unix system, with all of the standard controls and logic one would expect from a visual system. Their mobile platform uses mostly standard mobile widgets, with a mac take and flair as well.
Therefore, component design is not unlike that of other systems. But make sure your themes match visually with Mac elements in mind, as their visual styles do vary a bit from their counterparts on other systems. This is something of trial and error.
2 – Languages
Language support is where there’s some uneven ground with Apple development. Apple computers do not have a rapid development suite such as Visual Studio or Gambas for quick GUI software authoring. This relegates the developer to using pure C or C++ to design OS native applications for these machines.
iPhone development is similarly a mostly C or Java affair, with Flash support being locked out by default. The same practice was done on the iPad too. Programmers have little choice for use of RAD languages aside from the technically unsupported Mono project. This project aims to run .Net applications on Unix and Mac machines.
Mono works pretty well, but requires a 3rd party installation for instant compatibility. For the moment, developers for Mac devices need to be very comfortable with C/C++ development and programmatic GUI design. Archaic? Yeah a bit.
3 – Aesthetics
Mac third party software is held to different standards aesthetically than other systems. Due to Mac’s demographic of artistically minded people, most GUI applications for these devices are skinned and made pretty, rather than just using the standard GUI (though this is an option some still do).
This means that for Mac design, aesthetic GUI is much more crucial than it would be on Windows or Linux systems, which just require order and tidiness to make it really work.
Mac users tend to be very sensitive to visuals, so this is something to really keep in mind.
As you can see, some Apple user interface guidelines aren’t that dissimilar from others, though linguistics means being very good at programmatic design, and the aesthetics are far more important. It’s all about understanding the demographic and resources available when making Apple products work. It is worth noting that the iSeries are far easier to design for than actual Apple Macintosh computers, which are very behind in programming support versus the rest of the world.