On Design & iOS 7

Matt Gemmell, in a lovely piece entitled “Truth in Design”:

iOS 7 will be unveiled soon, and rumours abound that Jony Ive’s influence will push it further along the spectrum towards a flatter, more elegant, more elemental presentation style – a ‘backlash’ against skeuomorphic overindulgence, as the press would gleefully have us believe, as if it were all simply a matter of personal taste. iOS 7 may indeed have such an appearance, but anti-skeu won’t be the sentiment behind it.

Currently, I think that there’s an inherent tension between iOS and its devices. The aesthetics of the OS have never quite fulfilled the stylistic promise of the hardware design, and I think that’s probably intolerable to Jony Ive.

On paper at least1, iOS 7 seems to fulfill that stylistic promise.

Relatedly, here’s John Gruber, from earlier today on iOS 7’s design

There’s a sense of place, depth, and spatiality in iOS 7 that makes it feel like hardware. A real thing, not pixels rendered on glass. It’s as though Ive has brought the same design goals that have always informed Apple’s hardware to software. And here, his team isn’t limited by physics. Planes can have zero thickness. But it’s a system, in the truest sense of the word

I have broader thoughts on iOS 7 that I’m still working through, but I will say that I’m very excited by iOS 7. After reading the iOS 7 promo material on Apple’s website and watching the video, using my iPhone 4S running iOS 62 felt instantly anachronistic. I’m ready to start this new chapter.

People can bitch about the Home screen icons being ugly and point out the fact that Android had Feature X first, but that’s missing the point. All day, I’ve had this quote running around in my head. I think it’s apt here. Gruber, again, in concluding his iPhone 5 review:

[I]t’s the exact same thing as an idea. Apple is simply improving upon that idea year after year in infinitely finer detail, like a fractal. It’s nice.

iOS 7 is the same way: the fundamental elements that make iOS what it is remain, but Ive and company have put it into a sharper, more refined focus.

It’s nice, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

(via Shawn Blanc)


  1. I say “on paper” because I haven’t yet seen or used the software in real life.  ↩

  2. Pleasantly surprised that iOS 7 will support the 4S, though I’m still upgrading to the new model.  ↩