iOS 7: Love it? Hate it? Either way, designers are talking about it

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My only exposure to the new iOS 7 has been through what was presented on stage and through screenshots. I don’t really have and won’t really have an opinion until I have actually played around with it. However, I have been amazed by the reaction, especially from the design community, the majority of them being critical of the new flat-design that replaces the older, more literal and texture-heavy design of iOS. Intrigued, I asked the question to my Twitter community. Here are some of the responses.

Tom Coates, co-founder of Product Club, who in a past life worked at BBC and Yahoo’s Brickhouse, wrote back on Twitter in a string of tweets:

At least in part because it looks so much like wireframes with placeholders for things. Bit like a webpage with Times New Roman….It’s cramped in places, childish and garish in others, icons blend in with the background. And some of the design fetishes it has are as egregious if not worse than ios6 — frosted glass, fake depth, sliders with shadows. There are many good things about it too. Don’t get me wrong. App switcher is nice, etc. Interaction wise it looks and feels solid.

But on the other side of the coin are those who actually appreciate the new look.

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Mike Monteiro (of Mule Design) wrote in a Twitter DM (direct message):

It’s a breath of fresh air. Where was Apple going with the current crap? This opens up all manner of possibilities. I’m excited because it’s new. And fresh. The Forstall crap went to its logical conclusion. Any design system that can no longer be extended is death. The new stuff is a fresh start. Eventually it’ll die too. But right now I’m excited about how it can grow and be extended. It’s not perfect. But, as a designer, that excites me. As a consumer? I dunno.

Craig Mod, who is one my favorite design and content-focused thinkers, wrote:

iOS7 shows us that we’re at a point where design of digital device interfaces simply cannot be accurately assessed from afar. These are living things — systems. Where the physics, the parallax, the subtlety of the movements are all part of the ‘design’ and surface design is just a rather boring tip of an otherwise very deep iceberg. Until we live with the new OS for days, it’s hard to say how successful the new design is or isn’t. What was outlined today looks like a very rational base on which to extend the OS — somewhat timeless, far more timeless than what we had before. The only truly red flags I saw (aside from bad iconography which is trivial to fix) were the decisions around translucency. I’ve never seen an instance where translucency brings clarity, not muddle, to an interface. And from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like it falls on the muddle side in iOS7, too.

Justin Rhoades, a Portland-based designer, said:

I think the design had to be reset so that newer interaction models could surface. More gestures, more animations. They added a physics engine to the SDK. It’s like a pendulum swinging from obvious visual affordances to engaging kinetic ones. The parallax effect, the physics of the messages bubbles and I’m sure many other ‘kinetic’ behaviors are new to devs in iOS7. Apple wants apps to use more motion and less visual design.

There is a furious debate going on over at Quora, where someone asked the question: is iOS7 an improvement? You can either check that out, or take a moment and share your thoughts regarding the new iOS 7 in the comments.

iPhone5iOS7_PRINTWe’ll be digging into experience design at our annual RoadMap conference in San Francisco in November. Tickets will go on sale later this Summer, and you can sign up here to get first access to them.

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