iOS 7 - Why it leaves us a little ‘flat’?

It's here - iOS7!

It's here - iOS7!

Last night at WWDC we saw Apple announce their highly anticipated re-designed mobile operating system, iOS 7. It is safe to say the re-design is the most radical shake up of the iPhone iOS since they first launched it with the original iPhone in 2007. The new look does away with its gradients, bubblish curves and skeuomorphic icons that made the iOS iconic.

The new design is clean, flat and concise. It is very pure and well designed. So why does it leave me thinking it just isn’t quite right? Below is a screen of how the new Control Center will look...

A look at the new iPone iOS7 - Control Center and Notifications Screens

A look at the new iPone iOS7 - Control Center and Notifications Screens

The design is bright, clear and in every way beautiful. It is clearly is thought out, on trend and ticking all the right boxes from a design point of view. In fact, what it does behind the scenes and the new features it offers are all something to be proud of. The new UXD is bold and fresh enough to create a new information architecture that is coherent and out-and-out stylish. However, just looking at the screen it is clear that though beautiful, it doesn't shout out ‘iPhone’. It has no defining features of the old iOS or anything that would be commonly associated with Apple's stand out 2007 design. In fact, take away the phone surrounding and this could represent any new operating system.

Below is a screen shot of the iOS 7 control center next to the standard Android Control Panel and the new Blackberry notification tab (from the Z10). Though they are not identical, this comparison is important. All three now have simple icons, toned back and simplistic controls and even the san-serif font offerings boast similarities. 

 

Compared - iOS7, Android and Blackberry control centers. 

Compared - iOS7, Android and Blackberry control centers. 

The similarities don’t just stop there. You may notice the similarities in both the camera icons on iOS 7 and the Z10. 

The icon re-designs play a large part in the design overhaul, removing any reminisce of what was once before and now feature this clean, flat look. 

Again beautiful; but un-inspired. If we single out Apple's first row of apps, the common flagship four that feature on any new device - the messaging, calendar, photos and camera icons. 

For any iPhone user, these four are the most iconic and most used. It is clear in the comparison that the skeuomorphic elements are long gone, no more does the camera look like... well a camera; nor the calendar represent its real life equivalent. 

This is ok, skeuomorphic design perhaps were something unique to Apple and would perhaps limit them in evolving the new UXD to its full potential (and a little change to keep in with trends is always is a good thing). With the four apps being so recognisable, perhaps it could be argued that it was well over due for a shake up, after all it has looked like this since 2007.

 

iOS6 vs. iOS7 - Bye bye skeuomorphic designs!

iOS6 vs. iOS7 - Bye bye skeuomorphic designs!

I would stress that new icons look great. Again - beautifully simple, again - flat and again on-trend. From a design point of view, it's perfection (or near enough). But the icons look very much like stock icons or similar to icons that have come before. Breaking Apple's usual good form in seeing the market and re-inventing it - not, following it. The photo icon also looks suspiciously familiar to Google’s photo service ‘Picasa’. (Ok, again not identical, but very close)

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Taking inspiration is great, but making something that just blends with what is all ready available would be normally unthinkable for Apple. Another unthinkable feature, and something I wouldn't expect from Apple is for anything they produce to feel cluttered or over crowded. 

However, with iOS 7 - just turning on a few settings makes their main toolbar very easy to over crowd. Adding the pages in the top left is a great idea in concept, if you only have a few pages of apps the design is still sleek and clear. But if a user has more than 3 pages and the a few settings turned on, it feels like all the icons just merge into a very small space. Maybe this is a ploy of Apple to keep their phone clean of unused apps and settings turned off (after all it will probably help you battery life).

Is it me or it getting crowded in here?

Is it me or it getting crowded in here?

Besides this, the iOS does however do many things not seen in competitors. The iOS7 looks to change it's background based on the colours of the apps in your home screen. This includes the dialer and other parts of iOS7. Something not too dissimilar to what we found in the latest iTunes update for the album artwork.

All in all Apples overhaul on design is a good thing for the market. It is clear that this re-design was essential; stripping away more than one layer of artifice means the user gets to what they really care about much more quickly, such as their social profiles, contacts, music and so on.

The new designs allow Apple to evolve this new information architecture and ensure their features are not be left behind by other phone offerings. After all, since 2007 we have seen a lot of new tech and sharing platforms evolve - so whereas we would have only needed phone based notifications; we now expect notifications for our social and digital lives to be easier to access. With iOS 7's similarities to other phones operating systems, it could be a sign we are closer to the perfect mobile OS. Where mobiles are being created for market demand and a public perception what is expected from a mobile OS. Will we see a new mobile standard for design? Think back to the days of the Nokia 3310 that redefined how mobiles look and operated for a generation (until Apple came along with the iPhone) 

In summary, the only issue I have with it is that so far there are no signs of the designs that made Apple - Apple. The Apple that re-defined the phone and created something that lasted behind a trend. 

All being said, iOS 7 is a great update and I cannot wait. Apple have done a great job, I just feel like it may be missing it’s identity with the new design.

As well as the re-design; there have been a few under the hood improvements as well. The list of the top 30 changes made in iOS 7 are below:

  1. Control Center – In iOS 7 Apple adds a Control Center, which allows users to swipe up from the bottom of any screen for access to toggling WiFi, Do Not Disturb, Brightness, controlling music playback, AirPlay and more. There’s also a flashlight built-in and shortcuts to apps.
  2. Swipe to Go Back - When in Safari or other apps, if you need to go back, don’t bother looking for the back button, swiping in from the left will go back.
  3. Better Sharing Menu - The new iOS 7 sharing menu includes a scrollable list of apps and other iPhones to make sharing photos and more simpler.
  4. New Multitasking With Previews – The new iOS 7 multitasking uses the full size of the iPhone 5 display to let users see what’s going on in apps. Users can also swipe up to kill an app, instead of long pressing on it.
  5. More Control of iPhone with Siri – Siri can now control more of the iPhone. In the demo Siri on iOS 7 controlled brightness, returning calls and controlling iRadio.
  6. New Camera App – iOS 7 features a new Camera app that includes faster access to panorama, a new look and much more.
  7. Live Camera Filters - If you like Instagram, the new square photo option and live filters will be at the top of your favorite iOS 7 features list.
  8. Photos App That Sorts By Location – The new Photos app knows where you took photos and sorts them by location making it easier than looking through an endless stream of photos.
  9. iCloud Video Sharing – iCloud will now support sharing videos. A great feature when you don’t want to share on YouTube or Facebook.
  10. iCloud Photo Sharing Activity View – See what friends are sharing in a Facebook like feed of new photos and videos shared to a Photo Stream.
  11. iPhone Theft Deterrent – In addition to Find My iPhone, iOS 7 makes it impossible to activate a stolen iPhone if it is still tied to your user ID.
  12. iTunes Radio - iTunes Radio is a new way to listen to music in iOS 7. Pick a genre or create a station form your favorite artist like on Pandora, but gain Siri control.
  13. One Bar on Safari – Safari gets a new look on iOS 7 and finally sees a single bar at the top to enter addresses and searches.
  14. Notification Center On Lock Screen – Users can now access the Notification Center on the lock screen.
  15. Today Mode – A new mode shows today’s weather, appointments and other info at a quick glance.
  16. Smarter App Updates – iOS 7 groups app updating to save battery life, essentially batching multiple app updates and preferring WiFi.
  17. Automatic App Updates – iOS 7 also includes automatic app updates, so you won’t have to tap update all in the App Store.
  18. Shared Links in Safari – See every link posted by your Twitter friends in one location with easy access to reading.
  19. Popular Apps Near Me – Find apps that relate to what you are doing, such as apps popular at a museum or at a beach.
  20. Better Business Support - Enterprise Single Sign On arrives in iOS 7, which might help your company say goodbye to BlackBerry.
  21. Smarter Weather App – The weather app shows more weather information without the need to go to Yahoo where they try to change your search engine.
  1. iCar Integration – Starting with select 2014 models, the iPhone display will basically AirPlay to the dash offering access to the iPhone apps and features.
  1. Support for Game Controllers – iOS 7 brings support for Made for iPhone game controllers, which is huge for iPhone gaming.
  2. 60 Frame Per Second Video Capture – Capture video at high speed on the iPhone. This feature may be limited to the iPhone 5.
  3. Enhanced Parental Control – Guided Acces API opens up support for apps to tie into Apple’s iOS controls, which could lead to a better Kid’s mode for the iPhone and iPad.
  4. No More Waiting for Updates on Notifications – Apps will load the notification pushing an alert so you don’t need to wait after opening Facebook to see the updates.
  5. Smart Calendar – The new Calendar app factors in time to commute, weather, businesses nearby and more. And it comes with a new look.
  6. Kids App Section – Apple now includes a kids section on the app store that makes finding age appropriate apps easier.
  7. Smart TV Episode Downloading – Apple didn’t dive into the details of this, but we assume it means when you finish watching an episode it will start downloding the next.
  8. Turn By Turn Walking Directions – There are now walking directions built-in to Apple Maps in iOS 7. Walk on!

With thanks to Gotta Be Mobile for supplying the list. 

Blog written by Studio Manager Will Gray - Tweet me your veiws or leave a comment below, do you like the new iOS designs?