I feel like I spent the past few years falling in love with flat design, on mobile and on the web -- and I read article after article from historically pro-Apple bloggers/authors explaining that no, flat design was fundamentally a bad move: the strongest metaphor is that of the phone as a tool -- that we needed skeumorphism, we need hints for interactivity, we needed polish.
And now iOS 7 is out! And I'm excited, because the flat (okay, 'mature') design philosophy that I've been told is a bad idea is finally here -- and now it's suddenly a great leap forward because Apple decided to do it? When Microsoft decided that the average consumer understood what a smartphone was for and no longer needed the physical cues, they were wrong and fools -- but when Ive decides it, its because its time to move to mature and modern?
Here's the thing, though: I think iOS 7, on the whole, looks worse than iOS 6. The stock icons look outright ugly; interfaces like the call-answer screen and the calculator look poorly designed, and everything has the sense that it just needs another run or two through the review process. Not that it's irreversibly bad, but I don't think it's executing as well as WP or MIUI are. (With exceptions, of course: I think the translucency paradigm looks great, as well as the changes to the UI Kit.)
(People arguing 'its just a beta, it'll obviously change over time': what happened to Apple's relentless pursuit of quality before introducing something to the public? What's the point of secrecy if you're showing off v0.8 and not v1.0?)
I imagine actually using the new iOS won't be bad at all. It's just reading about it that frustrates me, which is definitely a sign I should be doing less of it.
(I own an iPad, iPhone, and MBA.)
People say things like, apple users are foo or the new york times is bar or americans are baz. Well, of course any large group of people with divergent opinions will be self-conflicting when examined as a whole.
I understand why we do it; our brains pattern-match people into camps and construct narratives on our behalf to make sense of the world.
But, in general, I think it's a waste of everyone's time to complain that Apple bloggers all hated flat design before Apple decided to use flat design. Instead, perhaps you could show an example of an individual who has frustrated you in their inconsistency.
1) We want to broadly dismiss a group of people.
2) We want to call out people who were wrong (huge thing on the internet is not ever being wrong; nothing is worse than changing your mind), but it's too hard to keep track of everyone you disagree with, and worse you can't as easily get away with calling out an individual as you can a group.
Why did Android and Windows Phone move away from photorealistic buttons? "partly just for differentiation’s sake".
Why did Apple (eventually) do the same:
"... we’ve grown up. We don’t require hand-holding to tell us what to click or tap. Interactivity is a matter of invitation, and physical cues are only one specific type. iOS 7 is an iOS for a more mature consumer, who understands that digital surfaces are interactive, and who doesn’t want anything getting in the way of their content."
Got that, this is the way forward, it's the right thing to do, it's better than what iOS < 7 was doing, and it broadly reflects design trends in other fields like the web but we can't quite bring ourselves to admit that the competition might actually be able to hire a random interface designer that is aware of this. No, they have to accidentally stumble into a better way to do interfaces just because they were trying so hard to look different from iOS6.
This childish sophistry is SOP for Apple blogs, it's the number one reason I (someone who adopted OSX and iPods as soon as they were available) think the Apple-sphere is mentally diseased and worth distancing yourself from.
I agree that the snarky comment you quoted isn't that helpful, but it's clearly an aside, tucked away in parenthesis, not his main thoughts on other platforms' aesthetics.
Fwiw, most of what I imagine you mean by the 'Apple-sphere' (Gruber, Gemmell, Marco, etc) have been generally positive about Microsoft's new design ethos. Criticisms have tended to focus on its implementation, not the design itself.
But I've been reading this stuff for so long I remember when Gruber was railing against Mac OS X for straying from Aqua and embracing brushed metal, now apparently we're not allowed to criticize iOS 7 because, unlike Mac OS X, even though that's the cited precedent they give for their argument, it's guaranteed to simply get better with no potential for mis-steps along the way.
You just get jaded by this stuff after a while.
Furthermore, why is the parent so interested in this idea of "Apple Users" as a group, anyway? There isn't really any such group (or, to the extent that there is, it's a very small group).
It's perfectly normal for companies to be inspired by eachother and to incorporate the best elements of rival platforms (and Apple have done a good job in many respects, particularly the default apps), but Apple's litigation and the comments of the most vocal Apple supporters meant that they really have invited this backlash.
Can you point me to any prominent individual (pro apple or otherwise) who cast any dispersion on Windows Phone?
The only interesting criticism I've seen of Windows Phone's design language is that by eschewing most forms of visual affordance, it erases a lot of distinctions between actionable and non-actionable elements onscreen. I don't personally see this as a good or bad thing, though; it just requires a different set of conceptual tools to build affordance.
I has never existed.
The secret is to not focus on versions. In time the quirks will get sorted out and if your users don't know when or at what version it became better they will assume that it has always been working well.
First OS X? Terrible, barely usable even if there had been any applications for it. Current OS X? Decent. But since they have the same name it has always been decent because people can't even distinguish between them. At best they know the code name for the up and coming version or the previous one but definitely no more than that.
Remember Vista? Yeah, people still believe windows 7 was a big leap and Vista was just some candy on top on XP. But only because you can refer to it as Vista people remember it as a failure. If windows 7 would have been a service pack to Vista (which it, compared to the XP-Vista leap, kind of was) people wouldn't have so strong feelings about it.
I agree, that Of course, Apple doesn't have a "Relentless pursuit of quality" before introducing something to the public. They ship Operating Systems fast, and fix problems as they discover them.
I'm still stuck on OS X 10.7.5 because of how screwed up my Operating Environment became when I (idiotically) upgraded from a wonderfully stable 10.6.8 to 10.7.0. So traumatized was I by the six months of kernel panics, hard freezes, and application problems (Mail, Finder, Spotlight - you name it) that were only mostly resolved by 10.7.4, and now, with only about 3 exceptions, 10.7.5, that I won't even consider upgrading to a new OS X until it's been out for at least 6-9 months AND has had a 90 day window with no major reports of problems. The 90 day clock just started for 10.8.4 on June 3rd - I'll consider upgrading in September.
I disagree, because clearly the versions "10.6.8", "10.7.0" and "10.7.5" are burned into my poor traumatized brain, and I continue to be nervous about 10.8.x - though there are a number of features I'm looking forward to (Better Exchange Support, iCloud support, messages, syncing with reminders (which I use quite a bit on my iPhone), Safari Syncing with my iPhone, etc...)
And personally, I love the way iOS7 looks and feels from the videos, way more than my current iOS6. (Except for Game Center, don't know what's up with those bubbles.)
Anyway, even if Apple were broadly being lauded for it now, that would be expected. Microsoft pioneered this look in the mobile space. Obviously they were going to catch more flak for it. The first one to try something new always gets criticism from the essentially conservative press and public.
Perhaps our browsing history is different: I've read negative feedback about iOS 7 but it's mainly from the Dribbble crowd. I'd say the majority of the feedback from the tech press/blogosphere has been gushing.
Anyway, even if Apple were broadly being lauded for it now, that would be expected. Microsoft pioneered this look in the mobile space. Obviously they were going to catch more flak for it. The first one to try something new always gets criticism from the essentially conservative press and public.
I completely agree, but this is what frustrates me so much.
I've only talked to programmer-ish, long-term Apple fans about iOS 7 and they aren't gushing about the interface at all (new APIs are a different story).
In fact, I felt that iOS 7 was trying to woo the "Dribbble crowd" if there is one - I have never seen another website that was so obsessed with weather apps & widgets. It felt like a parody of designer narcissism when the iOS 7 weather app was demoed, and feedback about that bit has been positive.
Design is how it works and functions, yes. But visual design is a major facet of that too. A large part of app design is the visual aesthetics. It's what helps make people download your app. It's most of what keeps them coming back for more. It matters too.
They haven't really introduced it to the public. They introduced it to developers at a developer conference so they can prepare their software for it. Every single iOS release has been like this. Buggy as hell for the first few betas with several feature changes along the way. When it's released 4 months down the line it's usually solid (excluding Maps).
And I say that as someone now running iOS 7 and OSX 10.9. I see a lot of potential in both, but iOS needs a fair amount of polishing.
It's been perfectly usable as my primary device.
It's this wilful disregard of negatives that bugs me about Apple culture. The good things are lauded, the bad things are ignored, unless they're bad things in other OSes, then they're highlighted as why Apple stuff is better.
It's like at my last workplace, the Apple fan who was always getting another box from Foxconn telling me that Android was crap because he occasionally saw me swipe twice on my phone - ignoring that he was doing the same on his iphone. He didn't realise it until I pointed it out to him that he was doing it. It's a really odd cultural phenomenon.
I've had an iPhone5 since it came out and I've had one instance of needing to hard-reboot the device. Can't remember the details.
OTOH, My previous phone, a Galaxy S2, had far more issues. Multiple times in my ownership -- at least 4 that I can remember -- I literally had to remove the battery to restart the device.
In many ways I wish I had a hybrid device. The fit and finish of the hardware itself is much better from Apple. Some OS features and especially Google-provided web services are much better on Android. (Speech-to-text for one..) But having owned an Android for 2 years and an iPhone for 8 months, the iPhone is definitely, definitely more stable.
In some ways it seems like Apple v Microsoft on the desktop again. Apple controls the OS and the hardware so yes it BETTER be more stable. And it is.
My pedantometer also suggests that 'pretty stable' and 'very stable' are not the same thing. :)
I'm not apart of the Apple culture—I've had an iPhone for about 6 months and before that I used Android for ~ 2 years and had never owned any Apple products aside from a MbP—and I am not disregarding bad things. You've read a single comment of mine which was made in the context of using iOS 7 Beta 1 as a daily user. I've only made comments on iOS in 2 locations on the internet, once on this HN story and once in an invite-only forum. In the forum I listed many things that I don't like at the moment and feel needs polishing.
What's hilarious about your comment is that by a couple of ultra-geeks at uni I was called an Android fanboy because I used my SGS a lot, modded it, etc., haha. It would be hard for you to have been more wrong in your assumption, in regards to me. You will forever find in every group/culture people that ignore bad things and laud the good things, I've seen the same when I used Android regularly and elsewhere.
Speaking of assumptions, I didn't call you a fanboy. I said it was a peculiarity of Apple culture. Given that I only have "a single comment of mine" on which to evaluate, it sounded like so many other comments on Apple equipment, where failures are papered over.
And given that it's a beta, not an alpha, two reboot crashes in one day is still definitely not what I'd characterise as "very stable". I'd even be wary of using that for an alpha - a "very" stable software suite simply shouldn't be crashing that often, regardless of where it is in the cycle.
Any actual crashes seem to be a result of doing too many things at once, particularly during an animation (eg: close out of an app and double-click for multitasking before the animation is finished). The crashes seem to cause a restart of the Springbord app rather than a complete system reboot, so it comes back within 10 seconds and hasn't lost any data (it even keeps the same song playing in the background).
The apologists said this about Apple Maps as well
iOS 7 is not just "flat" - at the risk of sounding like a fanboy, it's so much more than that. You're judging it based on the most obvious first impression - the icons and such.
Those can be improved, yes (especially Safari's...) but you're not reviewing the actual interface. I'm typing this comment on iOS 7 and I assure you it feels smoother. There are kinks to be worked out but the operating system's interface is more intuitive, which allows for more usable space and memory dedicated to features.
You sound kind of bitter about bloggers being fickle; getting past that, I think the design's interface actually looks very polished. It's "smarter" and only has a very small learning curve. Even apps like news:yc (what I'm using now) feel faster and "lighter" despite not yet being optimized for the iOS yet.
The whole thing feels like a more lightweight, versatile experience. I encourage you to download iOS 7's beta and try it out if you can.
I wouldn't be encouraging anyone to do that unless they are a developer, need to do it, and have a spare, non production device to do it on.
Nothing. They were always pragmatic about it, not "relentless".
And it's not a beta. The final version is coming in very short time, so it will be 98% the same. What it is is a FIRST version (iteration) of the new design. It will improve in iOS 8 and later versions.
People always go crazy when discussing Apple and forget basic facts.
Like, the original iPhone, and ALL subsequent models, where chastised for this pain point or the other. And all pain points (from lack of third party apps, to multitasking, to copy/paste, to the 4's antenna etc) where addressed, in a satisfying matter, in later versions.
People also forget how OS X went from barely usable (10.1) to highly capable and mature (10.4 and forward) functionality wise, or how the UI changed from "lickable candy buttons, heavy stripes and metal windows" to the subdued 10.8 look we now have.
People only remember "relentless pursuit of quality". But they forget that that "pursuit" comes in iterations and years, not just on every first version they introduce.
Actually, a decade old advice among Apple faithfuls, at least with regards to hardware, is: avoid buying a 1st iteration Apple product -- it will likely have some issue to be fixed in later versions or production runs.
Sure, it's beta, as in "buggy, still under development, and not released yet".
What I mean it's not beta in the way the parent mentioned it (and some people use it): that there is any chance in hell it will change in any substantial way.
They might fix some bugs and add/remove a few things, but 99% of what you see now will be there in the fall release.
OS X/iOS betas shown in WWDC are not like some website or app beta that iterates between point releases and can be very different by the time it comes out. They are pretty much baked.
RC would be a better name for it.
Matt Gemmell's continual dismissal of the Microsoft designers who created Metro is incredibly disrespectful. He's repeatedly made snide remarks about Metro as merely change for the sake of being different. Given the [sweat, blood and tears](http://mashable.com/2012/03/29/microsoft-metro-is-a-philosop...) that it for the Metro UI folk to convince the execs at Microsoft to take design seriously, it's dispiriting to see a loud voice in the community like Gemmell be so snarky and flippant.
"It’s not quite minimalist, though; it’s more like finding yourself living inside an infographic. The presentation is flat and high-contrast, but there’s little that’s familiar in the surroundings. It eschews skeuomorphism utterly. It’s hip, razor-edged and as modern as it can be without surrendering to the whims of futurism.
It’s almost perfectly digital, and is focused on information and content above all. Metro presents the device as little more than a viewport into a digital information space – indeed, the idea is immediately shown to the user via the concept of the horizontally moving viewport.
If there’s a current mobile user experience that should most appeal to Star Trek’s LCARS apologists like myself, then it’s surely Metro rather than iOS."
"Much of the lavishness of iOS (and its imitator, Android) feels like an artefact of the desktop era; a time when we were all still learning how to think about computing devices. By contrast, Windows Phone leaps to the other extreme, being as different as possible for the sake of it. Clear boundaries, sleek lines, and a kind of overt zen futurism."
That second one may seem like it's supporting your point, but Gemmell is deliberately contrasting the iOS style as "an arteface of the desktop era", whilst Metro gets "Clear", "sleek" and "zen" as its adjectives. In other words, Metro is clearly the approach getting the thumbs up here.
... living inside an infographic.
but .. little that's familiar
[OT: iOS (and its imitator, Android) -- snide for the sake of it]
WP leaps to the other extreme, ... different .. for the sake of it.
In about a year when the final release shipped, many things were fixed and polished, but people were still polarized, and many refused to budge from OS 9. About a year later, Jaguar was released, and OS X began coming into its own.
I predict the same thing will happen with iOS 7.
You clicked on the iOS7 article, read it fully an then made a huge comment about it. Every opinion about the design is so subjective that we can't really discuss it. You don't like the design? Well then don't upgrade or buy an Android phone. Lots of people are pleased with it, complaining about it isn't really going to help.
Why do you think that iPhone users were still happy with the design of iOS6. I heard lots of users complaining about how tired they were of the green playfield and that the address book doesn't really have to have the rings in them to know that it's an address book. This was an early trend, now flat design is a trend. Will you then also make a post about how happy people were with the flat design and that they should stick with it instead of upgrading it?
Every app of them is re-written, as a developer I understand the amount of work they had to put in to achieve this, to align every app for the new design, to think about every app. Really I understand the effort they put in to achieve this, but now you want all this with the latest design and you want it without a single bug?
Things that are not: fucking betas of mobile telephone software
I think the bright elaborate icons would look fine on a jet-black or solid white background.
I take it that you are a world authority on graphic design to cast such aspersions. Up there with the likes of Vigelli, Brody and Müller-Brockmann?
"It's a disaster of epic proportions."
No, it really isn't.
I was hoping that some UX issues would be addressed in 7 but alas, it's fonts and colours that seem most important to I've and co.
I'm literally shopping round for an Android after using only iPhones since 2007.
Experia Z seems like the front runner at the moment.
"many of the new icons were primarily designed by members of Apple’s marketing and communications department, not the app design teams. From what we’ve heard, SVP of Design Jony Ive (also now Apple’s head of Human Interaction) brought the print and web marketing design team in to set the look and color palette of the stock app icons. They then handed those off to the app design teams who did their own work on the ‘interiors’, with those palettes as a guide."
I was on the Montréal metro this weekend and really like the flat design they use which WP8 really took to heart. It will be interesting to see if the way iOS does it leads to more confusion for users or if skeuomorphism was the way to go.
In cases where the white background exists, the stylistic similarities to WP7/8 look more obvious. WP7/8 make very limited use of elaborate backgrounds, preferring to go with jet-black. There's an option to invert the WP7 colors and go with black text on white background... it makes iOS7 look like a complete clone there.
I don't know why people think flat is about not having layers. Did Apple just start this bizarre thinking?
The thing that I have noticed about the iOS 7 feedback is that people think that Apple implemented a flat design in a very ugly way. Maybe it's because they're behind the curve because they're late to the party. Maybe it'll get better, but everything I've heard so far is about the poor use of colors, gradients, and unnecessarily noisy effects, not about flat design being bad.
I agreed with "I think iOS 7, on the whole, looks worse than iOS 6." The icons look weird, and most of all, harder to be recognized than pre-version, that's why they lose their elegant.
I prefer to say, Flat design does not mean a flat element, flat appearance, flat interface. We should feel flat, the interactive should be flat, not just only our eyes see it is flat.
I would not mind it as much if they let me tweak some of the colors so I can have dark background.
In any case, eventually, the flat-UI proponents will realize that flat design is a subtle skeumorphism, one harking back to the days when graphics hardware were not capable of rendering more realistic images.
It's getting to be somewhat annoying how many people are whining about Windows Phone and Android similarities. Design and engineering decisions are not made in a vacuum. Android copies from iOS and vice versa - they each follow the cultural trends of smart design.
I would much rather see blog posts like this - where the author considers the iOS in its own right instead of insisting on nitpicking what's original. Now I can actually see the innovation that went into designing the iOS 7 interface. And as someone typing this comment on iOS 7 beta, I've come to a deeper appreciation of what's already in my hands.
It's not helpful to accuse large design houses and engineering teams of copying each other. That's like saying supercars aren't original because they universally use sleek, aerodynamic ("sexy") design features. No, that's just what sells and what makes sense. It's a natural maturation and trend towards intelligent design. It's just iteration.
It's true that touch interfaces no longer need to be "taught" really. We intuitively know that gestures will do things in the same way (and more efficiently) than buttons. It's all about reducing cluttered design and adding more functionality without reducing usable space. I'm glad we're moving towards this.
I agree, but the similarities are being pointed out precisely because Apple (and their major pundits like Marco and Gruber) makes a big deal about how others have borrowed ideas from them.
For example, the infamous "Redmond/Mountain View, start your photocopiers" lines, and Marco/Gruber's frequent quips like "Hmm, I've seen something like this before..." in regards to something Google or Samsung has done.
Apple's smugness is what's getting them, not their borrowing of ideas, itself.
They need to be called out on this. "Everything is a remix" was brilliant in exposing Apple hypocrisy in this regard.
The thing is, Apple fan(atic)s (the pundits and those who echo them, really) love the "Apple innovates, never copies, only bad companies without any talent copy" routine, and here we have an example where Apple has pretty blatantly ripped design elements from their competitors. For the people riding the "everything Apple produces is unique and amazing" train, iOS7 is a deep betrayal specifically because it is so familiar to things that others did first.
That is the primary reason I think Apple is getting so much crap. Apple claims to be the industry leading innovators; Tim Cook even said during the D11 conference "I don't like copying. It's a values thing." in reference to Samsung patent litigation. Apple partly built it's reputation on bashing the Microsoft (Switch campaign) and Android (WWDC's and MacWorlds). Now that Apple is playing catch-up in the mobile space that they essentially pioneered, they are getting the same snide back-handed remaks that they were dishing out.
Following current design trends and adding a splash of your own flavor to them... that's status quo, isn't it?
"Some of their own medicine" as it were.
While iOS 7 may look more like WP and Android, anyone who uses it can tell it still feels and works like iOS. Apple harp on about how design is more than how it looks, and it especially applies in this case as it doesn't work anything like Android or WP. But use a Samsung Galaxy S, and you can immediately tell that their apps menu is a wholesale ripoff of the iPhone's Springboard with next to no effort put into differentiating or improving the original design.
Look at his iMessage screen comparison : yes, the old screen looks a bit geocities, but you can actually read text very well; the new screen is almost unreadable. The prime aim of iMessage is to make people read text, not to look cool.
It doesn't matter if there are options to thicken the font -- the whole point of OSX/iOS UI was that you should not need options, because defaults should be good enough for most people. This is clearly not the case with what we've seen of iOS7, and that's a problem.
Which brings me to my second point, that is where is the "Deny" button/action in the new interface.
? I could only see "Answer" and "Remind me later".
Absolutely. I don't understand how so many people are focusing on the highs and lows of the UI but are ignoring serious UX problems like the one you pointed.
Apple says "Nothing we’ve ever created has been designed just to look beautiful. That’s approaching the opportunity from the wrong end." but then they change the perfectly readable Messages screen to a less readable one that has the only advantage of arguably looking better. And it's not the only problem IMHO.
On that screen used to be a send button that invited interaction. You look there and you know that it's "actionable". Now in the new version there is no button, only a gray text with "No Perceived Affordance" that looks more like a description than an "actionable" element. The most important "action" on that screen happens when you press a gray text on a gray background!
And the call screen? On the iOS6 one it was easier to read the name of the person who is calling because the white text is above a black overlay giving it enough contrast. On the new one the text although bigger is lighter (as in less bold) and is directly on the image. Light backgrounds (sky, clouds, etc) will make the text barely visible. Also how can I reject a call? There is nothing on that screen supporting the second most important functionality that is expected from it. Even accepting the call is now more complicated. The size and position of the elements makes more sense now but the text is lighter (less readable) and it's now more complicated to accept a call: before you only needed to touch accept, now you need to slide.
The home screen: even ignoring the aesthetics that I personally don't like, it's undeniable that the text is much more readable with iOS6. The small border and shadow made it readable with virtually any background. Also the icons were easier on the eyes, the new bright colors tire/irritate the eyes more. Also the relationship between icons and the functionality they represent was already hard in some cases. For instance for someone that didn't know Safari it was not easy to tell which was the browser and which was the compass from just the icons. Also the photos icon was not obvious at all and the Music vs iTunes Store icons are almost the same with different backgrounds but now it got worse: none of the exisiting problems got any better and at least reminders, settings and game center got worse.
Of course there are a lot of screens that got better imho. Music, contact view, the calendar, clocks, compass, weather...
The "Send" text is gray because the input box is empty. When you typed in something, it will turn blue. Still not as intuitive as a button though.
> Also how can I reject a call?
It's exactly the same as in iOS 6. There've always been two different call screens since the first release of iOS. One is shown when your phone is locked, where you need to slide to answer and push the power button twice to reject. Another one is shown when your phone is not locked, where you have an answer button and a reject button. The screenshot causes the confusion because it is comparing the second call screen on iOS 6 with the first call screen on iOS 7.
As far as messages go, it seems that the contrast is appropriate for the bubble at the bottom of the screen. The presumption, I think, is that users will scroll to read previous messages and the contrast will be fine where they are reading. The contrast for old messages is reduced to reduce the distraction from content the user is not reading, since it has already been read. How often do you read previous messages in a conversation vs. the last message? This difference clearly has dictated Apple's design.
Second, the concern about white text above the photo not being readable is laughable. If you really think Apple hasn't considered the idea that some photos will have lighter colors I don't know what to tell you. If you watch some of the intro WWDC videos it's very clear that Apple has thought through very carefully the various automatic treatments and text rendering they are applying to ensure they are readable by the user. Any places where things are not perfect will be corrected later.
If you want to criticize iOS 7 you can do better than conjuring up things that would only be true if Apple literally had zero design skills.
Even for the message at the bottom of the screen there was more contrast before when the text was black. In a room it does not matter much but out, in the sun, you can tell the difference. Anyway, even if you read the most recent message most often than others (which is probably true) you often need to read the previous ones for context if the reply arrives some minutes or hours later. If you are out, previously you could read the last two or three messages without problems. No you have to scroll so that the previous message is under focus to be able to read. And what is there to be gained? Isn't the fact that older messages appear before the new ones not enough to hint about their order?
Again you raise the argument that Apple always knows best and therefore it's laughable that I point out such a thing. Of course Apple would never make such a mistake. Just look at both photos and ask yourself which one can you read best. Also look at screen of the (beautiful) weather app and see if you can check your signal or even the time.
Also do you think that yellow text on a light background is a good idea in terms of readability? Because that's the color of the "actionable" elements in the Notes app.
I'd argue most of my beef with the armchair commentators is they are making what appear to be deep criticisms of iOS 7 without having actually used it, and without taking into account the fact that it's beta 1. They are shipping a new "letterpress" text treatment in UIKit, my guess is that they will apply this treatment to text if it is sitting on top of a similar-colored background, but probably have not worked out the details yet. I could see it being a reasonable technical and design challenge since you may need to apply a treatment to only part of a glyph. I'd ask the poster what their "duh, so obvious" solution is to their "duh, so obvious" observation. (Note: "leave the status bar alone" is not a valid answer here, since the design goal is to have the content in iOS 7 take up the entire screen. If you have a problem with that decision, argue that point, but realize it has nothing to do with status bars anymore. Even if Apple left this pretty glaring flaw in their design, they may have decided to do so because having content take up the entire screen is worth this cost, and the onus is on the critic to explain why it is not worth it, not that they are too stupid to have noticed this edge case.)
Basically if you see something and it's something that 99% of developers would identify as a potential edge case, you can be sure Apple considered it too and at least made an explicit design decision to deal with it or punt for later betas. If they made an explicit design decision, which is assumed, then you should try to understand that decision and then critique that decision and its tradeoffs beyond Comic-Book-Guy-esque "this is so obvious they are so dumb how could they miss my clever edge case I've discovered." Let's say Apple really do see that white on white is an issue, and actually decided to leave it that way and ignore the case altogether. Why would they do this? At least address this question if you are going to critique the design. The OP assumes it was an oversight, not a design decision or technical debt, which is kind of insulting to Apple designers and engineers.
I would prefer if before starting a complaint about text legibility, colors, contrast, and so on, if people would include a disclaimer of if they have actually based their opinions upon viewing the design on an actual device.
That's a wrong-headed and frankly stupid presumption on Apple's part, if true. You're arguing to make the top half of the messages screen unreadable (or at least more difficult to read) in the name of a gimmicky gradient effect?
> If you really think Apple hasn't considered the idea that some photos will have lighter colors I don't know what to tell you.
They haven't in the beta. Unless you set the image to be basically all white (in which the overlaying text turns black) the text remains white. Even on the default "live" teal background the text is hard to read. Hopefully this will change in the release, but considering promo shots show the lock screen as it is now, I'm not hopeful.
> If you want to criticize iOS 7 you can do better than conjuring up things that would only be true if Apple literally had zero design skills.
Wait, so you are saying that if Apple didn't employ "good" designers, his criticisms about the new UI would be valid, but since they do, his criticisms are baseless? Please go ahead and defend that logic, should be good for a laugh.
The new message UI is obviously trying to fade out the older messages since, if you assume the latest message is the most important content by a large margin, older messages are a distraction. I am not going to say this is a wise design, but the blindness the OP has to this dynamic shows they are firmly in the "Apple are idiots" camp, without an attempt to see what is actually in front of them: tradeoffs.
As far as the white on white issue, it's obviously a bug or to-do. Mark this post, I will eat my hat if iOS 7 ships and there are cases where you end up being unable to read text upon user-defined backgrounds like the home screen or lock screen due to some obvious issue like light text on light background.
First off, I don't think they are explicitly trying to fade out older messages. The received message bubbles are gray and don't seem to have a gradient effect going on; it's only the sent ones which are colored (green or blue) and have the gradient. So I think Apple's goal here really was just a gimmicky gradient effect for the colored (sent) messages.
More evidence for that is that the bubbles themselves don't seem to change colors as you scroll; rather they are just sort of a mask for an underlying gradient layer underneath (so you can have one large bubble which fills the screen and is light on top and dark on the bottom).
But even if their intention was to make older messages fade out, it was still severely misguided. It is trivial to discern which messages are older (they are higher in the chain and therefore further from the text input for a new message). Users of iOS have been familiar with this for years (and isn't the new UI supposed to move away from explicit visual cues since the assumption is people are used to it by now?).
Moreover, it actually hurts usability, since users now have to scroll more often to get messages in the readable portion of the screen if they want to read through a conversation.
And, on top of all that, if there is only one sent message in the conversation, there is actually no way to bring it into the readable portion of the screen due to the snap-back! (Further evidence that this was intended to be no more than a visual gimmick.)
Have you tried the current Gmail app? It uses thin fonts, and I don't find it to be a problem.
At a glance the earlier messages I would have sent look harder to read.
This article seems to sum up some of my other complaints fairly well: http://wolfslittlestore.be/tasteless/
Meanwhile, young people are highly ripe for bailing out of iOS, now that Samsung has some cool factor, Android's software/gaming ecosystem is growing richer, and the golden manacles have been feeling tight on the tech-savviest generation. (Guess who's doing all the jailbreaking? It ain't the boomers.)
Old folks may be the bread and butter today, but I think Apple knows that iOS is at a crossroads when it comes to winning the future. (I may be futilely rooting for the open web, but I've still got my popcorn.)
Also, have you seen how many elderly Asian tourists are using the iPad as the only digicam they can comfortably use? (Not sure if this is also a trend in other countries.) That's obviously the opposite of "cool", but these are $500 in revenue per user. The new lock screen and camera of iOS 7 are less discoverable.
Apple is the prestigious brand. Having a budget line compromises that image.
Go to a Mercedes dealership. You can buy a $32k C-Class or a $132k CL.
For that matter, go to an Apple Store. You can get a $400 iPod or a $90 Shuffle.
Or a $3000 Mac Pro or a $600 Mac Mini.
I found that they were very hesitant to engage with the phones, they have a preconceived notion that touching the wrong thing could break the entire device (which is generally an incorrect assumption but not completely).
The way to get around that fear, of course, is to make sure all the steps are followed in order in the way they were taught, eg: To Make a Phone Call: 1. Press the green icon with the phone on it at the bottom left 2. Press the picture of the star to bring up your favourites 3. Press on the name you want to call. 4. When you're finished, press the big red button.
In that example the four steps are largely unchanged, and every identifiable interactive element (green icon with phone, star, names, red button) has the same general description.
But everything has changed slightly - the green icon isn't the same colour, the star is a bit different, the names now have photos next to them and the red button is a big red strip.
This isn't a big deal for you or me, but it is certainly a big deal when they're looking for the clues in the interface that they are used to.
But things like "Slide the grey button to the right to unlock the phone" and "slide the green button to the right to answer the call" have changed significantly. There's no more grey or green box - there's no box to unlock and the green box is now a big green line.
My grandfather is doing pretty well with his iPhone by muscle memory, but he literally has a piece of paper in his phone case with all the steps written down in order so he can refer to them if he gets stuck.
Changes on this scale break the muscle memory that they've been trained to use, but more importantly makes the steps he's been taught incorrect. It's no small feat to have to learn everything over again. Especially so when things aren't brand new anymore and the changes are only slight.
Does that answer your question?
I think it's telling when your own developing base has to post to forums asking simple questions like:
Where did my spotlight search go?
How do I rate songs?
The only thing 'telling' is that somehow you're surprised by this.
For me usability is probably the best way to substantiate a design criticism.
These comments about the older generation dealing with flat design are also VERY valid. Apple hasn't gone too far into Metro territory, but it will be interesting to see how the useability end of iOS 7 goes over (never mind the criticisms of the look).
Either way, I think Apple needs to polish what they showed at WWDC. Let's start with the arrow pointing up on the lock screen lol.
It turns out that perhaps I was giving them too much credit.
I'm sorry I just don't see why many of these things are so terrible. It's like every designer thinks their personal taste is an objective standard...
"The title bar is white, the tab bar is white. If I blur my eyes, I don't see the distinct areas."
"The Safari icon went from something beautiful to this"
"48px roundrect? Terrible."
"Really Apple? Icons on people's heads? HAS YOUR VISUAL DESIGNER LOST THEIR SENSE OF TASTE?"
"And most of it sits on ugly rainbow puke, again."
These all seem like whiny statements of personal taste to me. I don't use my phone with blurred eyes, I have set photos of people to my phone wallpaper (covering their faces - the horror!), transparency doesn't look remotely like any puke I have ever generated, etc, etc.
iOS7 just doesnt get that aesthetic right. I've only been using it for two days but I doubt I'll change my mind.
Great: Picture organization. Airdrop, this will be big. No more search field/page when you slide left on the home screen! Slide up settings is helpful (wish they had a link to settings.app there too. Screenshots of background apps are helpful. App store is back to vertical scrolling for the top charts. Safari top and bottom nav shrink when you are scrolling a site.
Not great: New keyboard is harder to see and type on, space bar got smaller. Not a fan of the icons and thin fonts. Wish messages were more compact. Calendar doesn't indicate events at the month view (or i haven't figured out how.) iRadio is a clone of pandora that's less simple.
Also, iOS7 now pops up a "This cable is not certified" when I plug in third party lightning cables. Looks like they are stepping up their proprietary authentication. Not a fan of that.
Steve would probably have fired the tasteless "designer" who came up with this utterly broken redesign.
How are the new gradients any different than the old gradients?! Any more "childish"?! (Look at the Messages app for example.) Is there any consistency between the old Voice Memos, Apple Store, Videos, iTunes, and Stocks apps? Do these icons really strike you as fundamentally better than the new ones?
I was comparing to MeeGo, and the icons there look much more polished, because they smartly use gradients and shadow when needed while keeping it simple when it comes to colors and symbols. Apple just simplified everything.
Funny, I think people who LIKE this design are nuts. People are nuts indeed!
> How are the new gradients any different than the old gradients?!
OMG?!?111 Well, it's not that the gradients are different, it's that the colors are bright and vivid and each icon has little distinction from the next. Oh, and it looks like something my 6-year-old nephew would draw with his colored pencil set.
If you look at the icons I mentioned, Voice Memos, Apple Store, Stocks, Videos, iTunes, Game Center, etc., they too are bright and vivid and have small inconsistencies. Why is the radial effect different between Apple Store and iTunes? Why is the light source for Videos different from Stocks?
The only difference between these icons and the new ones is that the old ones looked like they were designed by a self-important designer, thinking, "How much arbitrary detail can I pack in this icon?", rather than your extremely talented nephew.
Steve Jobs was probably great on a more holistic design level, and that's the sense of design awareness we tend to give him credit for. It still allowed weird and outright design trends every now and then, though, but not in a way that tainted the entirety of the design.
Good thing there aren't people out there who are color-blind, then...
The navigation looks lik the same color as the "Home" and "Phone" labels. Are those actions?
My experience of Windows mobile is Windows 8 on a tablet, and I had pretty much nothing but contempt for it. And failed to see anything stylish about it at all!
I want links/buttons/actions to stand out. That doesn't mean it has to look like a button. It could be text with a halo, a shadow, or an effect that comes into play as you begin to interact with the device so the controls jump out at you, or are overlayed or something. Don't just present raw text at me. Though having said that, I'm sure Apple will make it work, where others haven't.
iOS 6 looks pretty infantile by comparison, but the new screenshots and icons don't look that nice or that cohesive either.
(I was hoping that they might just drop the old school 'i' from iOS and just call it Apple mobile OS or something, it grates my ears and eyes, the name is like soo 1999.)
The thing that I notice from the stills is that the typeface appears quite weak. I had the same issue with Windows 8, my eyes just can't read it comfortably, I'm not sure why that is - and it looks more diluted now - and there is less contrast in general. Though perhaps it will look okay on a retina display.
I've had at least 4 people I know toss their iOS device in favor of a WP8 handset in the last couple of months.
Windows 8 however is a stinking turd. It doesn't work for that in the same way that your metro signs aren't 40' advertising boards. Most of the UI is empty and pointless padding resulting in no visual cues and terrible usability.
Go and play with a phone sized device for a bit and see how you get on.
If you turn on the "thicken text" (not the actual name) in accesability, they stand out even more.
When someone first described the idea of theming, as in something like CSS and HTML, I totally got it. Can't apps use a descriptive semantic language underneath and just have the OS skin most of it for you?
Swapping themes and making applications and the OS more accessible thereafter would surely be much easier. I know I'm simplifying things somewhat, but isn't this the next evolution in responsive design?
I'd find it someone hard to think that apple would eschew accessibility Perhaps high contrast mode will exist at the very least! Even Windows 8 has made a few inroads.
Because things were the same for so long (IMHO that's why anyway) we've seen a lot of devs bringing their own ui items that looked similar but slightly different to the standard elements, I assume in the attempt to stand out visually. Apps like tapBots' TweetBot will likely be OK because they most likely don't use ANY of the standard UI elements, but apps that use a little custom and a little standard stuff have a lot of work cut out for them.
I sense hyperbole, but would love to know what the actual proportion is. I suspect the majority of text links (as opposed to, e.g. menu navigation) are underlined.
Differing colors are NOT being used to indicate differing actions. They're just being used to indicate interactivity in general, and it doesn't matter if you see that indicator as red or green (the most common form of colorblindness).
Just a few things I noticed:
The confusing unlock and initial welcome screen. They lack clear indication on which way to swipe or that you're even supposed to swipe at all (welcome screen). It's a subtle and momentary weakness that is addressed the moment you figure it out, but truly excellent design should avoid such issues; minimalism doesn't mean zeroing things out.
The month view being useless for showing upcoming events in the calendar app (the previous version would show you a scroll of upcoming events for the currently selected month).
Spotlight is summoned via a downward swipe, but is dismissed by an asymmetric action (either x out your search field to clear your search results, or hit the physical home key).
All minor quips, but it's the difference between UI designed by, say, your avg coder who trivializes the UX domain, and UI designed by a truly talented UX guy. But I'm hopeful since it's only the first beta.
I think the reason for the backlash, and rightly justified, is that these seemingly capricious design decisions would seem to underpin a larger fundamental flaw with the overall direction - one that Apple historically is not known for. You can justify the goal, which is of course a good one, but there is not way in hell you can justify the implementation.
The home-screen icons are probably the worst part of the design. There are certainly good parts as well. But Apple's skeumorphic borders and backgrounds were always distinctively Apple, and contributed to make people love the brand, now the iOS just looks like everything else. Android is flat. Windows is flat. And as people pointed out, what about the colorblind?
However, there are some glaring warts that weren't discussed. Most notable among the goofs is the new "Control Center" feature. What's odd is that Apple seems particularly proud of it judging by how frequently it appears in their iOS 7 marketing materials. To be clear, I think that the idea of giving quick access to frequently used controls is a good one. However the current visual design execution of this idea is abysmal.
IMHO, the current design of iOS 7 Control Center is a jumbled mess that doesn't seem consistent with the rest of the new design. It violates a bunch of the new design conventions, and conceptually represents a grab-bag of misfit controls that have little reason to be together on the screen at the same time.
The controls shown in Control Center don't use the new convention of tinting to a bright color to indicate interactivity, but instead opt for inverting between light and dark to indicate on/off. Additionally, some of the buttons have borders, while others don't. Some are circles, some are rounded rectangles, others are floating in whitespace. Some less important controls (AirDrop) are big, other more important ones (WiFi) are small, and they're all stacked on top of each other in a big jumbled mess.
Here's how I propose Apple improve the design of iOS 7's Control Center:
- Adopt a consistent control element design: no borders, color hinting etc.
- Remove the bottom row of app shortcuts. Except for the flashlight these are not controls, they're links.
- Remove AirDrop and Airplay. Not controls either.
- Refine that ugly down arrow on the top of the pane. It's too chunky and is encroaching on the icons below.
- Increase the opacity on the panel to improve readability.
Even though the author is defending this, this hits the nail on the head for why I dislike this style.
I do want hand-holding to know what to click or tap. So does my mother. I don't want to have to guess what the designer wanted. I don't want to have a phone that requires me to be a "mature" consumer. I don't want to have to think when using it. And I want things to get in the way of my content -- things that help organize it, delineate it, and let me interact with it in clear and unambiguous ways. I didn't buy my phone to admire pretty pictures of my contacts -- I bought it to tap and swipe my way to getting stuff done quicker.
The original quote above isn't really about flat design -- I personally think flat design, done right, is great. The quote is about a different philosophy -- that just happens to have gone hand-in-hand with the new flat design movement. But I don't know what to call it -- an anti-interface movement? A make-the-user-guess movement? Microsoft's been doing this for a few years now; only now has Apple jumped on the bandwagon.
Look at the old vs the new - the chrome is still there, it's just taken backseat to the content. It's not at all unclear what to click on to accomplish what you want to do. The call screen for instance. It's still immediately obvious what does what.. slide to answer, and a couple of buttons to decline with a note.
Settings and contacts screen - the "<" cue on the top left which goes back, similar to every modern web browser.
Maybe I'm missing something here, is there a thing or two you can point out that seems harder or more confusing on IOS 7 than 6?
Author of the blog: an interesting and insightful read, thank you.
Now iOS7. Scanned for facetime. They don't have it on the contact sheet. Wait... they do. For some reason I didn't register that at all on the first glance. Now message. They definitely don't have it: home, mobile, facetime, iCloud and work. That's it. Wait.. that cannot be right. Re-scan slowly. I see a speech bubble next to mobile phone number. Maybe that is it. I hope it is clickable. Doesn't look like a button.
Sounds like someone who hasn't actually installed it yet. Perhaps it will feel more fluid and responsive when it ships, but that is not the case today.
It seems inevitable, when I first saw the original WP7, I thought it made the iPhone look old and that one thing that Apple does not like is looking dated.
Where were all these posts when Windows Phone or Android introduced these UI/UX ideas?
Just look at the first five pictures at the blog post:
1) The left part shows just apple logo. The right one shows a man smiling.
2) The left part contains no pictures at all - just some text, and the right part contain a picture of a nice girl.
3) Both sides of the picture contain a girl smiling. But the girl on the right is definitely looks more open and bright. Heck, even the teeth on the right photo seems more white.
4 & 5) The fifth picture(ios7 collage) contains more smiling people than the fourth picture(ios6 collage).
I am pretty sure there is no coincidence.
I'm being facetious of course, but really, Apple changes their designs up on the regular, even if it isn't "broken". See: the iMac product line.
Old people love ornamentation. My 91 year old grandmother can barely distinguish buttons on her iPhone 4, I pity how she'll use iOS 7.
In a way it's strange that iOS would adopt these icons at the same time that it's ripping out the skeuomorphisms. After all, beyond the complaints about wasted space, distracting textures and so on, the fundamental thing people have against skeuomorphism itself is that it's a put-on, a kind of play-acting. But so is the self-consciously retro and "themed" style which has now been applied to the home screen. I really like the icons, on the whole, though the new default background is too much. But they're too much of a novelty for me to want them at the centre of my life and work - which is where they will be for iPhone users - for (say) ten years. Not that anyone is even contemplating leaving them on the home screen for even four years, of course. But that's just the thing: they may (or may not, flame away) be good design, but they're unequivocally not timeless design. Or really minimal, self-effacing design.
(I can almost hear Sir Jony hisself saying, 'keep calm, and carry on')
Just signed up for HackDesign and hope to hell they have an iOS7 focused segment soon!!
Relying on color to indicate interactivity... like we've done on the web forever? That's been a best practice since I-don't-know-when.
I disagree with the "we've grown up" idea. I'm not sure there's a Platonic ideal for UI/X, but clearly we're moving away from the idea (created by whom?) that a touchscreen phone needs to harken back to its button-clad counterparts. Think about it, we've made calls, drawn pictures, posted Facebook updates, & sent emails with our computers for ages, why is the phone interface so different?
The new design is a function of current style combined with a smidgen of better understanding about HCI. Everyone and their grandma was putting plastic shines on their buttons in 2008, now everyone is going "flat".
I guess screw color-blind people then.
I disagree. We reply on context and content to indicate interactivity. Color has been a pseudo indicator and is now inaccurate at best and misleading at worst. Just take a look at the header of this comment; the username timestamp and link are all the same color, yet only two of the three are actually links or clickable at all. Thus, the content and the context indicate clickability, not color. This is why UI design is harder than everyone thinks.
If they have, then I don't see them changing device. What would they do so for? The iphone's worst feature for a while now has been its handset - so they'd pay a penalty in accepting the device and unless the UI has a major advantage I don't see why they would.
I don't know how many of you get the Samsung adverts from Europe and the like but the iphone gets actively mocked as a fairly out of date dumb device:
And in use figures it's not doing well outside of the U.S.
Meanwhile it would alienate all the people who didn't want a flat UI.
If people who wants a flat UI have already gone elsewhere I don't see how Apple can do anything but make a loss on this change.
One thing I'm concerned about, though, is usability. Getting rid of all the bevels off of buttons and making them not look quite so interactive ... my two year old son knows how to get around already and I wonder how much of that is because things look interactive on the iOS 6 UI. I might have to install the 7 beta and see what he thinks.
He knows how to unlock my wife's phone (I have a password on mine) and can get to any app he finds interesting. I suppose the only thing he'll need to overcome is unlocking the phone and then he'll be back where he started.
So, it's okay to sacrifice similarity and familiarity because you can force people to understand a UI through emotion and intuition? Without familiar cues, a user will have to blindly poke around the interface until they understand it, and then rely on that experience to use it in the future.
There's nothing wrong with a visual overhaul (even if it does make the system look like a cheap Android reskin), but it's not right to throw users off the deep end of the pool because they are used to interactive elements that look... interactive.
Interesting review but silly comments like this are, well, silly! When I see an area of a screen or GUI, I do not feel tension if there is a "visually dead" area. Does anyone else?
How come nobody complained about iOS4 and 5 and 6 in the GUI department? Suddenly they are being seen as old and rubbish, and tension-inducing.
Daft writing is sadly colouring an objective review. Having said that, iOS7 does look brighter but some areas look difficult to read. The lack of indication when items are buttons or controls is frustrating, as experienced on Windows 8, aka. Visit To Flatland
The author's comments aren't "silly", they're just an example of an expert talking about his field. Novice programmers don't feel "grimy" when they look at code that should clearly be refactored, but that doesn't mean that programmers who talk about ugly code are "silly" either. If you haven't studied design to a certain extent you probably won't ever be aware of tension in an interface unless it's extremely evident. That does not mean it's not there.
We'll see how this pans out but maybe this is that "the iPad is just a big iPod Touch" thing all over.
The old Safari icon reminded me of the Netscape Navigator 2.0 splash screen.
At this point, iOS is walking on the similar path to Windows Phone 7. Looking back at WP7, it did generate a lot of buzz, it rallies a lot of MS fan out to become the product's evangelist.
Time will tell whether iOS 7 will sell. I bet it will.