“When something is designed to work beautifully, it tends to look that way, too.”
This is one of Apple’s many taglines describing its new mobile operating system, iOS 7. It’s a nice turn of phrase, but I think my 1995 Isuzu Rodeo might have had something to say about the reasoning. It was one of the ugliest vehicles I’ve ever owned, yet during its 230,000-plus mile lifespan, it ran “beautifully.”
To give Apple the benefit of a doubt, though, I think this tagline is a more Apple-branded -- and wordier -- way of saying, “form follows function.” And to be fair, Apple usually does a good job of following this edict, particularly when it comes to iOS.
On the contrary, an edict that Apple has never been keen to follow is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Its version is more like, “if it ain’t broke, do it again and again.” Thus, iOS 7 has come to fix what “ain’t broke,” and from looks alone, it seems to be the most radical iteration in iOS history.
Here are just some of the changes coming to an iPhone near you later this year:
- No more skeuomorphism: If you’re like me, you might have never heard this term. Basically, it means to keep part of a design that is no longer needed as a decoration. Think, the knot of a clip-on tie, or more relevantly, the simulated ripped pages at the top of your notepad app. Icons are now flat, with none of the glossy sheen or dimension of their forefathers. Drop shadows have been replaced by varying opacities, and a new parallax effect gives the home screen more depth. The notepad no longer resembles its real world counterpart; it’s now just white space upon which to enter text. Overall, it seems apple Apple has eschewed any faux-realism in favor of a more digital aesthetic.
- More animated: iOS 7 now boasts many more animations, including moving backgrounds and lock screens, new transitions throughout, animated weather and more.
- App overhaul: All stock Apple apps have also been redesigned with the visual flair of the new iOS in mind. This includes the clock, camera, calendar, contacts, reminders and more.
- Function follows: iOS 7 is finally getting a “command center,” which is basically like the notifications pull-down menu you’re accustomed to, only it comes from below (scary!), and it provides shortcuts to many things you use on a regular basis such as brightness, calculator and, finally, a flashlight. Siri has been updated as well, with more commands and better voice recognition. Safari is going to see an increase in its speed and stability. A new airdrop feature lets you share photos, videos, and contacts with nearby iOS users.
After having some hands-on time with a developer’s build, I can say iOS 7 is a significant change and takes some time to get used to. The new design choices could be divisive among users, but I think it’s a nice change of pace. Minus a few bugs in the beta code, it still functions as expected and, after a while, I felt at home with it. In my opinion, it worked beautifully, and looked that way too, just like it always has.
Have you experienced the new iOS 7? What are you opinions? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.