Apple’s mantra for a few decades has been Think Different. That corporate attitude brought the iPod, iTunes Store, iPhone, and iPad, not to mention a line of Macs that are the envy of the PC world (not to mention the most profitable line).
After six months of suffering insults to the injury of a falling stock price, Apple has decided to just remain Apple. Remember the rumors of iOS 7? Black and white and flat all over? Instead, it’s pastel, neon, and depth.
Who Was Thinking Depth?
Depth? Sure, I expected iOS 7 to arrive with a lighter look, maybe a different font scheme to match. And, to be honest, I thought we’d seen the last of glossy icons and shadowed buttons.
Why? Because everyone already knows what they are so they don’t need to be quite so obvious. Yet, Apple wanted to create a device that wasn’t just software stuck on top of a slab of aluminum and glass.
iOS 7 is the marriage of pastel and neon, but ends up being more of a Ménage à trois relationship because of the added relationship of depth.
Forget black and white and flat all over. That just didn’t happen. In iOS 7 icons and buttons are familiar, yet different, and often in a Fisher-Price, eye candy design that’s not really off putting because it’s similar to iOS 6.
What is dramatically different is that motion layer that iOS 7 places between icons and background, which, as the hand moves the device, it appears as if both software and hardware are one piece.
From what I’ve seen of Apple’s videos, including the keynote video, I’m not put off by the pastel neon icon look as much as I app by what seems to be bare naked for the sake of nudity. Take a look at calendar and you’ll see what I mean.
Sure, I know exactly what it is at a glance. It’s a calendar. But it’s also devoid of character, flavor, and personality. Is that a good thing?
iOS 7’s home screen appears more playful, and the depth is more subtle unless the device is being moved, in which case that extra layer below the icons appears to move, too.
Is all that visual movement a good thing? I don’t know but I expect the design community to be somewhat polarized by iOS 7. After all, design isn’t science.
Already I’ve read of designer elites who comment that iOS 7 feels rushed, and they have a laundry list of examples of not where less is more, but less is just less but maybe needs to be a little more.
At a time when Android and BlackBerry and Windows Phone are rushing to add more functionality to their products, Apple’s iOS 7 gives the visual appearance of having less while actually offering more. Here’s another example.
What were once obvious buttons are gone, yet replaced with what are obviously buttons to push. Is that better design? Or, simply a different design? Does that make iOS more usable? I don’t think so. But it is different enough that Apple fan folks will call for designer Jonny Ive to be crowned the CEO in waiting.