Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Big Sur’s Sidebar Translucency

Nick Heer (tweet):

But, screen fidelity aside, it was clear after a day that using Catalina felt cramped and messy. Icons and text in the menu bar were not as well-aligned. Rows in the Finder were squished together like every pixel on the display remained precious real estate.

Big Sur changed all of that for the better. There is subtly more space around many interface elements, and there is a clearer sense of structure. But it also introduced problems for readability, many of which are the result of an obsession with translucency and brightness.


That is dark grey text atop a mid-grey button texture in a light grey sidebar. Subjectively, I find it unpleasant to look at; more objectively, it has insufficient contrast. It is the same with the Search field located in an application’s Help menu[…]


Nevertheless, the rest of the system behaves as though the foreground window is comprised of panes of glass, and the background windows are made of solid plastic. Often, this means background windows actually have better contrast than windows in the foreground. […] Several MacOS apps are similarly more legible when they are in the background: Music, Contacts, Calendar’s single day view, Dictionary, and Voice Memos — to name a handful.


4 Comments RSS · Twitter

> Icons and text in the [Catalina] menu bar were not as well-aligned [as Big Sur].

Interesting, I find Big Sur's menubar to be disgustingly misaligned. For example, a couple of the menus don't left align cleanly to the top tier item like the menus have done for 30+ years... they're weirdly offset more to the left, I think to make more space for the "this item is active" checkmarks. It just looks wrong.

At the same time, while ostensibly "fixing" these checkmarks (in someone's mind -- looks bad to me), they completely abandon them in other menus like Wi-Fi where it's replaced with an iOS On/Off slider.

Big Sur is the most wrong looking Mac OS I've used since the original 10.0 Aqua. They really had it looking nice around Yosemite (I think?) and it's been a slow, and then sudden, regression since then. OS X went from looking fairly professional to looking like it was designed by monkeys who randomly cut and pasted elements from iOS for no particular reason.

I am just a user so not a expert on graphical design for a OS or apps for that matter. Seems like I see more users complaining about lack of contrast and having to either lower scaling to make things bigger, or use Accessibility options to try and increase contrast.
Personally I think Apple defaults to a pretty high scaling anyway over say what Windows 10 does on same type of screen. Apple chooses to allow for more screen space than making everything more legible. Apple seems to think the retina screen quality can keep text crisp even at higher scaling. My MacBook Air actually hurts my eyes to use at its default scale setting. Yes, even small text is perfectly legible but it is also very small. Some web sites use very small fonts and that makes things hard to distinguish for my older 50's eye sight even with readers. The lack of contrast in Mac OS also makes this same issue more apparent when fonts are reduced. Even when I use my Mac mini with a 24" 4K screen I would experience the same issues if scaling is set too high. I get how so many like more real-estate but at my age I prefer legibility over space.

Beatrix Willius

Scratching head.

After updating to the first beta of BigSir the screen real estate of my MacBook Air felt about 25% smaller. There was and is just too much unnecessary white space.

The translucent sidebar is an annoying flicker effect. It's good for absolutely nothing.

Why have the menu shortcuts a disabled look? There is no benefit except decreased legibility.

The rest of the changes is similar: change for the sake of change and decreased usability.

Apple is running a worldwide frog-boiling experiment to see just how far they can go before everyone enables "increase contrast" and "reduce transparency"!

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