Sir Jonathan Ive. So much postulation is bandying around about how he is going to ‘revolutionise’ the iOS UI, slay the skeumorphic dragon and rescue the princess, he can’t possibly live up to being the shining knight… or can he?
In terms of track record; nothing more needs saying. In terms of intent; does he actually want to make the radical changes that some people are clammering after and should he?
One of the most satisfying things about the iOS platform is the affordance and tactility of the interfaces which urge and woo you into touching them.
There’s some pretty obvious applications that need an overhaul (take a bow Game Center) and I think it’s a given that we will see a paring down or even an almost total dismissal of a lot of the ‘real world’ textures and faux-leather of yester-year. But in terms of a radical overhaul, who knows? One of the most satisfying things about the iOS platform is the affordance and tactility of the interfaces which urge and woo you into touching them. I’d be very surprised if he peeled back all familiarity to follow the latest design trend - in fact, I think we both know it’s out of the question. However, if we look at the updates that were made in iOS 6, you can notice a more subtle and paper-esque style to the UI. When I say paper-esque, I’m not talking about some corny crumpled texture. I mean a high quality Italian 300gsm beautifully crisp off-white paper. That’s a texture I can get behind.
Almost every native app escaped any decent UI updates with iOS 6 but one particular one managed to slip through - the Music app.
Comparatively to the rest of the native applications, Music is a veritable masterpiece of subtlety and restraint. But most tellingly it’s also almost completely devoid of the signature iOS ‘gloss finish’. The improvements from iOS 5 are immense but, to me, it also seems to signal a very positive move forward in terms of the direction that the iOS design is going. The textures are still resident but in the restrained, high quality tones of a pastoral symphony, instead of a brash and gaudy pop song shouted by spandex-clad morons. Note: it’s still not flat design but merely minimalist - there are gradients but they serve only to hint at the touch elements instead of emulating a duplo button. The difference is phenomenal and if they can make similar improvements across the board, the whole iOS experience will be enriched.
Another simple but noticeable improvement was the weather app which pulled back all the keylines to single pixels, de-bolded the text and took out the heavy drop shadowing.
There’s a number of simple elements which I could see them using from other popular apps and design patterns currently in iOS, such as the notion of ‘cards’ to place the information upon.
Instead of the old ‘cut out’ blocks, a subtle card placed on top of the background layer (which itself has been simplifed).Also, the characteristic gloss has been ditched to give a simpler and more subtle feel to the icons and the on/off switches.Visual indicators which are almost semi-redundant such as the chevron have been backgrounded.The nav bar has been smoothed out and, along with the shadowing, given a more subtle, crisp feel. The main blue has been brought down to a classier, almost royal tone. I also dropped a couple of cheeky ‘wishes’ in there; for multiple accounts on one phone and the possibility of widgets on the desktop.