Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm.

iOS 7: A Week Later

The initial reaction to Apple’s iOS 7 has ranged from thoughtful and provocative to trite and absurd — as you might expect anytime Apple does anything moderately interesting. I consider myself in the “give them time, they’ll probably get it right” camp. And, a week later, I’m still very excited to help design a relatively complex new app for iOS 7 and beyond.

A few more things, now that I’ve had a week to think about it.

The big-picture reality is that iOS 7 really isn’t very different. This is actually what we were told to expect: Some superficial changes, but nothing drastic. And that was correct. Feel free to gush about or criticize Apple’s new “design language” in iOS 7. For some people, that’s important. But for most iPhone users, once they get used to the new look — which is, obviously, a work in progress — their phone is going to work pretty much the same way it did before: Screens of squarish icons for apps that don’t really talk to each other very much. No complex desktop “widgets” or 2-up-app split-screens, or anything like that. (Yet?) The trickiest thing at first will probably be learning about some of the new, hidden gesture controls.

And now, some irresponsible speculation about future hardware. That is, after all, the big thing with Apple: Hardware and software in perfect harmony. Moreso now — in theory — that one man, Jony Ive, is leading design of both.

  • Those app icons with big-ass circles in them? The App Store and iTunes Store logos that go almost too close to the edges? The seemingly unbalanced “grid” system? Is that, perhaps, telling us something about the design balance for future hardware devices? The iPad mini and iPhone 5 already have some pretty thin bezels, especially on the sides. But could we perhaps see screens going all the way to the edge soon, where there are almost no borders and the content is everything? That might be neat.
  • That parallax tilting effect on the homescreen? You know, “seeing behind” your icons? My sense is that it’s going to get old pretty quickly — or at least you’ll forget about it. Unless! Unless there’s something very cool to do with it. Perhaps some new sort of camera technology, where multiple lenses and parallax scrolling actually make some really interesting visual effects? (3D-ish Vines and Instagrams someday?)
  • One size fits all? I mentioned this briefly in the last post, but something about iOS 7 feels like it’d be more flexible for a more diverse lineup of iOS device sizes. At least I hope that’s something they’re thinking about — making it feel more appropriate on the iPad, for example, and maybe even a really small screen, too. The shift away from a discrete status bar at the top and moving more navigation elements into the content — something app makers have been doing for a while, actually — seems like it’d better fit a wider selection of gadgets.