Apple’s highly anticipated mobile software iOS 7 was unveiled during the headline keynote event at WWDC on Monday. The keynote began with a video about Apple’s design philosophy which gave a clear indication of some drastic changes we were about to witness.
iOS 7 was introduced with a video where Jony Ive, SVP of Design, shared the concept behind the look and feel of the next major version of iOS. As the video revealed photos of iPhone 5 running iOS 7 it showed a whole new direction the company was heading towards. This new direction was about getting rid of unnecessary ornamentation and about bringing a sense of focus and purpose to the OS.
From the lockscreen to the homescreen to the native apps, the design screams one word, “flat”. iOS 7 no longer features the heavy wooden, linen or leather textures. The design brings focus to the features of the app and what you can accomplish by utilising every pixel on the screen to deliver content to users.
The use of translucent overlays for control center, share sheets, keyboard and even Siri helps bring about a sense of understanding the functional hierarchy of features rather than hiding the unseen screen space with skeuomorphic textures. This also brings a fresh new look to your phone every time you change the wallpaper as the overlays reflect the colors underneath it.
Every element on iOS 7 has been redesigned from the fonts to the icons and even a new color palette. iOS 7 is a bold move from Apple, a move that shows the company’s ability to “think different”. It’s a well known fact that Steve Jobs was the one who was in favor of ornamentation and heavy textures. But, with Jony Ive as the head of software and hardware design the company has taken a whole new direction and whole new perspective of how iOS should be designed.
Tim Cook in an interview shared that Steve Jobs told Cook to never run Apple thinking “what Steve would have done” rather he advised Cook to do what was right for Apple. The introduction of iOS 7 is a perfect example of Cook’s leadership taking Apple to a different level.
iOS 7 doesn’t “revolutionise” the existing mobile OS, it didn’t showcase any features that haven’t existed on other mobile platforms however, it does show that Apple is willing to let go of the “old” to make way for what’s “better”.
I have never been against the use of ornamentation on iOS. In fact, it gives Apple’s iOS an exclusive elegance that has a “wow” factor. The wooden bookshelf in Newsstand and iBooks tries to connect technology with real life and brings about a sense of bridging the gap between the real and the virtual. However, I can clearly see how the leather stitched Notes app on the iPad takes away a lot of functional screen space. I think iOS had reached a point where balancing the real and the virtual ornaments had become an argument about design over functionality and focus.
With iOS 7 Jony Ive has tried to bring back the focus on functionality by simplifying and getting rid of the unnecessary. However, it’s worth noting that iOS 7 doesn’t let go of its connection with the real world. The OS now responds to motion to create a sense of depth as you tilt your device it shows the underlying content. Even as you change your wallpaper the reflection of the colors of the photo you choose has a very noticeable impact on the entire OS.
Apple didn’t deliver any breakthrough features in iOS 7 but, it has begun a new design journey which is modern, simplistic and unobtrusive in every sense. First look at iOS 7 may create a sense of unfamiliarity but, the more you look at it the more you understand the purpose behind such profound changes.