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Initial thoughts on iOS7

iOS7 is a drastic update, here is my musings on it.

Adrian Cooney
Jun 11, 2013 · 7 min read

So Apple has radically changed the look of iOS to align itself with the “flat” design trend. When I first saw the iOS7 homepage, I was overcome with the feelings of hypocrisy. In the weeks prior, I dismissed the concept designs across the web as laughable because they drastically distorted the iOS6 UI. In hindsight, however, some did a very good job at predicting the iOS7's aesthetic. I won’t lie, my first impressions of iOS7 were anything but pleased and I won’t lament on what I thought UI should have looked but I’ll discuss my experience booting it up for the first time.

The install went incredibly smooth. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a screenshot of the install screen due to the fact that it’s not possible but it sported a flat Apple icons alongside a tiny (and I mean tiny, sixteen pixels in retina terms maybe?) loading bar. The install was speedy and the backup restored just fine.

Transitions

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Screenshot of the new transitioning on iOS7

Lockscreen

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The new lockscreen design.

The first distinction the new lockscreen has is the lack of the translucent bars and the slide to unlock handle. When I was first presented with this screen, I’m ashamed to admit I actually tried to pull up the screen because of the little directional arrow on the bottom (like the android lockscreen). Unless you notice the direction of the little highlight on the “slide to unlock” text, there’s no other indication on how to unlock the screen without some (albeit few) trial and error attempts of sliding the text. This already represents some bad UX design in my opinion even if the lockscreen functionality is already known to millions. Also, notice the extremely poorly position camera icon in the bottom right hand corner. It feels so out of place and lonely.

Notifications on the lockscreen are also unintuitive in some respects. There is absolutely no indication on how to open a notification. My first reaction was to tap it and received no feedback. After another couple of taps, I mistakenly swiped and noticed the message moved along with my finger. Notifications have to be swiped to the right to be opened. I hear you saying “that’s the exact same as iOS6! Stop being so pedantic!”, what happens when a new user is introduced to iOS7?

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Zero indication on how to open a notification.

Control Center

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Which state is toggled?

Another poor aspect of Control Center is the 3 completely unrelated sliders less than a chubby finger away. The brightness, music scrubber and volume control are all present on the panel. The brightness and volume controls are indistinguishable save their position and icon. The music scrubber by itself fidgety. The handle is tiny! It took several attempts to actually catch it and I’d consider myself a good aim!

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Then Control Center. Notice the duplicate music controls.

Status Bar

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The lockscreen status bar.
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The loss of distinction between the status bar and the app.

Homescreen

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Weird pixelation bug in a transition.

Now onto the style and color scheme. Apple, as mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, have opted for a “flat” design approach in iOS7 under the guidance of Jony Ive. Flat is nice when used correctly, for instance Google is a great example of how flat design can be used for good however Apple and their icon design poorly reflect flat design. In fact I’d argue that many icon’s aren’t flat at all!

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The iOS7 homescreen.

Look at those gradients on the Mail and Safari Icon! Look at the attempt at some depth in that Settings icon! Look at the reflection on the Game Center icon!

The colors, oh the colors. I’d consider myself poor enough at picking decent color schemes but this homescreen looks like a 5 year old’s bag of sweets after a 10 minute trip to his local sweet shop. The neon colors are even worse on the actual iPhone.

Look at that Safari Icon!

There is so much inconsistency between the homescreen icons. Contrast the simplicity of the Weather icon to the complexity of the Newsstand icon or the perceived bulge on the Camera icon to the entirely flat Music icon. The only thing I’d argue that’s consistent between each icon is their rounded corners.

Of course there are tons of more changes in iOS7 but I just wanted to give you my initial thoughts. Do what you will with them.

As a final note, I’d like to say that I love Apple. The design of a product is a huge factor for me when buying and they have time and time again swayed me away from their competitors because of their attention to this. iOS7 however has showed me that Apple are capable of bad design in a pivotal area of their business which is distressing to me not only as a fan but also as a consumer because it’s clearly displays the direction they company is headed for. Come on Apple, you’re much better than this.

I. M. H. O.

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