Some time later, I worked on a twitter client with my pal Buzz. A
friend of his who worked at Apple told us this little story. One
day while riding the elevator at Infinite Loop, he found himself
in the freakiest scenario any Apple employee can imagine: alone,
with the elevator door opening to let Steve in. Being a
well-adjusted individual, Buzz’s friend promptly disappeared
into the tap-world of his iPhone, lest he say or do something
wrong in Steve’s presence. It was still the early days of iPhone
apps, and Steve did something that had apparently become a habit
with him. He reached for the iPhone and asked,
“What app is that?”
“Birdfeed”, came the reply.
Steve tapped here and there, flicked the scrollview a bit, then
handed the phone back. “The background needs more texture,”
I’ve heard similar stories regarding other apps, particularly within Apple. This is why Aqua debuted with those horizontal stripes. This is why Brushed Metal became a rock star. This is why iOS’s default UI theme features those vertical background stripes. This explains the proliferation of dark linen. And I’m definitely not saying it was Steve Jobs alone who held this opinion.
I’m just saying there’s a very strong line of thought within Apple, which came (and I’ll bet still comes) from the top, that distinctive in-app textures are important.