Skeuomorphism – in a computer context meaning the digital simulation of a real-world object/texture/function – has been a hot topic in design lately. Microsoft boldly went flat with the design of Windows 8, and Google has shifted to more of a flat design with its various applications and with Android. Apple had embraced heavy skeuomorphism and realism with a number of its apps, especially on iOS, but with the unveiling of iOS7 at its Worldwide Developer Conference appears to be making a big shift towards a more flat interface as well.
Skeuomorphism has been around since things started going digital in the 80’s and 90’s, and you may not realize just how prevalent it is. And, while the trend in design seems to be for “flat” as opposed to “skeuomorphic”, it does serve a purpose.
Sacha Greif posted a great article about the pro’s and con’s of skeuomorphism/realism that is worth reading.