iOS7 Preview

The start of a more consistent iOS design

Why Apple’s new design is a start, not an outcome

Today, Apple was met with heavy criticism from within the design community regarding the radical new direction of iOS. While the design is obviously rough around the edges, Apple’s new approach could be early signs of a significant shift in the company’s approach to iterating their products.

In 2011, Rdio introduced a significant overhaul to their interface. The new design removed nearly all gradients and skeuomorphic elements. Many advocates of the previous design critisized the changes—but not only because of style.

Rdio Old vs. New Design

Good user experiences are heavily reliant on consistency. Styles will come and go. Styles are fads. For a truly thoughtful UX that can evolve over time, designing a foundation which can be shaped into a consistent language is necessary.

Initially, Rdio’s design was met with hate because it lacked consistency. By removing so much of the style, the inconsistencies of the product design were highlighted. Many of the noticeable inconsistencies within iOS7 are not new. In the current version, there are already varying icon, menu bar, and typographic styles.

After Rdio introduced a simplified UI, they began focusing on consistency. The app was updated on a very frequent basis, sometimes several times a week. By introducing a simplified UI—in essence, a new canvas—it allowed Rdio to rapidly iterate their product. Other startups and even Google have begun taking similar approaches. This is one reason Google’s design has drastically improved in the past year.

Fast forward to several months later, Rdio was hailed in the design community for their forward thinking. Still today, they release design improvements often.

I believe Apple is taking a similar approach. The design needs love, no doubt. However, iOS7 is the first sign of a quicker iteration cycle. In six months to a year, iOS could become a very consistent and delightful experience.