When I heard (saw) that Apple did the U-turn thing yesterday on the Dock, I was a bit astonished. First, they haven’t given developers access to the final build of OS X Leopard, so nobody can test their products until Leopard is up for sale. Now they’ve essentially done the same to icon designers like me, by going flip-flop on the Dock. Fortunately, all my time spent on work with clients to make their icon look good in Tiger and the new ‘glassy’ dock wasn’t completely wasted, but they still changed a pretty fundamental design element’s look without giving any type of advance notice.
“Surely,” you may argue, “it’s just the Tiger dock, dark, with some modifications”. Sure. Quick Look windows are just dark backgrounds too; the sidebar accepting just 16px icons are just small additions as well, and Coverflow ‘only distorts’ your icon. But they do define the design considerations and the places where you see the icon most often. I am not trying to imply that I’m in a situation even half as sad as the developers’ (with them not being able to test apps against the Golden Master and such) but it does matter, and there is no real reason to postpone this cosmetic change to the final build. In fact, there’s lots of arguments to introduce this in a quick build before the final one. I hope Apple learns from this, as although they’ve shown they are receptive to input, the time of introduction really couldn’t have been worse.
I just wish we won’t see a lot more of these “surprise surprise!” changes coming from Apple again.