iOS 7 Divides The Design Community

iOS 7 Divides The Design Community image ios7 splitiOS 7 Divides The Design Community

The biggest shift in the history of iOS is taking place, and we’re only a little more than a month away from its worldwide release. When Johnny Ive took over Apple’s product design last October, Apple fans knew they were in for a shakeup. The launch has become one of the most talked about software updates of all time, and with good reason. What we didn’t foresee was how the dramatic new look would cause a rift in the design community, bringing iOS 7 haters to the forefront. Here’s what the dissenters are getting wrong:

Users adjust to touchscreens

Over the past five years iPhone users have been stuck with an operating system that’s seen little to no significant change. From day one, iOS has relied heavily on the idea of skeuomorphism to ease users into mobile, but over time, people have adjusted to the touchscreen at a far more accelerated pace than expected. They now interact directly with the software as a natural extension of the device. This absence of super-user functionality in previous versions of iOS, combined with the continuing use of ornamental designs, had begun to leave Apple’s trademark look in the dust.

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Critics don’t see what is important

Sites like Dribbble and Behance have become some of the most important players in the progression of interface design. Users of these sites have created an astonishingly large library of published and unpublished designs that can be referenced on a whim. More recently though, it seems that these sites have become victims of their own success. They play host to the start of amazing user experience and user interface trends, helping many designers stay on our game.

The drawbacks, however, are the saturation of ornamental design and the unfortunate reinforcement of style over function. Many users, including some very reputable ones, seem change averse to the growing push toward a reduction of visual noise and clutter. With them comes a slew of followers who embrace these values without considering the progression of interface design happening around them.

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It seems as if they are having trouble visualizing their new role in a UI world less dominated by pixel imitation. A common hang-up amongst the community is the newly updated application icon set. Yes, these icons are arguably the most unimpressive area of the new look, but they’re hardly a ship sinker. What these dissenters fail to grasp is that the main thing is that once the complex interaction design is set, it’s far less important that visual design kinks are still being worked out.

A more personalized interface than you think

Aside from the icons, the most unwarranted justifications for objections to iOS 7 is the claim that the new style leaves no room for personalization. The fastest way to disprove this argument of non personalized design is to just visit the iOS 7 Redesigns Tumblr. These comps are distinguished by color choices, clever use of dimensionality and a focus on content. Many of your favorite applications are re-designed without sacrifice, and with the same personality and impact as ever.

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Image credit: Marcel Wichmann

Personality in software shouldn’t rely solely on visuals. A navigation bar’s gradient or lack thereof isn’t the only – or even the most effective – way to turn software into something more. In the past, a sense of life and personality has been forced upon interfaces through heavy-handed visual designs, but that can easily be a crutch that hides an app’s true value from a user. iOS 7 has eliminated that, and instead forces designers to be more thoughtful about what they’re creating.

The function-first movement

The stagnancy of iOS design over the past few years had left many iPhone users bored — it was time for an overhaul. Much of the community has been fervently awaiting a fresh take on the mobile operating system from Apple’s perspective, and now it’s in our hands. If you know what it takes to build software, accomplishing this goal in less than a year is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

iOS 7 is not a design movement; it’s the anti-design movement. It’s an operating system based on the idea that interface is no longer driven by the concept of ornamentation and style, but by content and function. It’s an attempt to tame the wild beast that interface design has grown to be. A designer‘s job is no longer to push pixels, but to make the pixels work for them. A more immersive and lively experience isn’t truly driven by the way it looks, but by the way it moves, by the way it reacts to the user and — ultimately — by the way it works.

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