A more realistic take on iOS 7’s flatter, cleaner look

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Tim Green, visual designer, has taken to his blog with thoughts and reasoning to determine how Apple might change iOS to be flatter and cleaner. We’ve seen our fair share of concepts, with possibly one of the best ones turning up yesterday, but many are taking the flat look a little too far in Green’s eyes, and making the OS look unrecognizable. His logic was that instead of going full-on Metro with the redesign, Jony Ive would get his software designers to take out any unnecessary gradients, textures and gloss. The example he gave was the Messages icon below. But to me, the end result isn’t as impressive as the clear rationale that’s behind it.

Green’s inspiration was sparked through looking at most popular apps. The launcher icons for apps like Dropbox, Vine, Google+ and many others has become much flatter and texture-free in recent years. Take a look at the collection below, there’s little gloss, and mos have a much more matte finish than previous generations of icon design.

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How likely is it that Apple would ditch its long-established obsession with rounded corners on icons, products and user interfaces? Not very. Ever since Steve Jobs inspired the first graphical user interface on the Macintosh operating system in the early 80s, there’s been a rounded corner on almost every rectangle and square in site. Even MacBooks, iMacs and Mac Minis have rounded corners. So, however much I loved the iOS 7 concept from yesterday, the likelihood of having completely square icons isn’t high.

Green remarks:

“To me, there is a distinct movement towards a particular style and I would be very surprised if Apple were ignorant of it. It’s not ‘flat design’ per se and it’s certainly nowhere near the ‘Metro’ levels that people are suggesting they may follow, but it’s a mellowing out of the visual indicators that people need to trigger the idea of a tappable element. Why? Because this is not 2007 anymore, and we are all now fully aware of the medium and the process; we don’t need to be led garishly by the hand. There is still a sense of depth and tactility but done in a refined and suggestive way, sensitive to the changed perceptions that people have of interacting with touchscreens.”

He goes on to note how different the styles of interacting with apps and showing levels of information is now comparing modern apps with iOS. His blog post mentions using horizontally and vertically layered ‘cards’ instead of having a list cut-out of the background.

It’s certainly food for thought and you should definitely read everything he has to say. He definitely has his head screwed on and pointing in the right direction. Apple isn’t likely to completely revamp its iconic OS, instead it will more than likely improve it to fit in with modern graphic design and UI standards, while still remaining undoubtedly iOS. A tip of the hat to Cult of Mac who stumbled upon this blog post and brought it to my attention.


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  • namikabbasov

    That new design looks totally Windows ish and i hope Apple would never do it!!

  • MatteoRodrigo

    Looks more like an Android.  I dont like the stock ios icons like calendar, weather, email, appstore and other things with those little red numbers in the corner.  I also hate that blue white and typeface used all over.  I dont know why but it bugs me.  I really like the clean Holo that Google launched.  Its strange how sometimes your gut instinct with cosmetic things can affect your decisions.  I just get an aversion to the way ios currently looks and a new design could make me switch to iOS as I have a Mac and have been looking for reasons to do so.  For now, I like some of the Android features although it would be easier to have everything sync seemlessly and one of my biggest frustrations with Android is the hassle of switching phones…especially losing all progress in games and having to manually redo so many of my apps because they dont get saved to an account.  I HATE IT.