iOS 7 UI overhaul monochrome, flat, and tipped for iPhone first

May 24, 2013
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iOS 7 UI overhaul monochrome, flat, and tipped for iPhone first

Hints at the comprehensive interface changes expected in Apple's iOS 7 have emerged in fresh leaks from the company, tipping a flatter, more monochromatic UI that pulls the software more in line with the minimalistic hardware. Apple is expected to shift away from the "skeuomorphic" style of faux textures and artificial lighting effects favored by Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall, and - with Jony Ive at the helm - pare back apps and interface elements, 9to5Mac reports, across the board.

The changes will start with the lockscreen, which has apparently lost its glossy, semi-transparent time and date pane and replaced it with a solid black bar, while the PIN code keypad has been supposedly updated with black, round buttons with simple white text and borders.

Notifications have changed too, it's said, both in the lockscreen - where there are believed to be new gesture controls - and in the drop-down notification pane, which will be white text on black and include shortcut controls for commonly-accessed settings such as airplane mode, in addition to new widget-style panes.

The iOS 7 homescreen will reportedly gain panoramic wallpapers, as on Android phones and tablets, and the iconography lose the lighting effect in favor of flatter graphics.

However, while previous leaks suggested Apple could push back updating some of its core apps in iOS 7 so as to finish up the UI changes, potentially staggering the refresh into early 2014, the new sources claim WWDC 2013 will see just about every aspect of the platform modified. The new app icons will each have a different key color, carried through into the apps themselves: "a white base with a respective color theme" as 9to5Mac describes it.

The overarching theme will be flatness, it's said, with Apple's designers supposedly more comfortable with the idea of leaving backgrounds as plain white, rather than using some sort of texture image. That will extend to Mail, Calendar, Maps, Messages, and Notes, among others, though the exact degree of changes is said to vary. Those most modified will include Safari, the Camera app, Weather, the App Store, Newwstand, and Game Center, it's said.

According to multiple leaks, it's all-hands-on-deck within Apple to get iOS 7 ready in time for WWDC 2013 next month. The company has apparently shifted coders from the Mac OS X team to the iOS division, so as to address all the changes Ive has been instrumental in pushing, though it's said that the goal is now to get the iPhone version finished first before the iPad version.

Ive's goal for the iOS 7 changes is apparently to reduce the speed at which he fears the platform will date. Insiders at the firm have said that the designer has been increasingly present across all software department meetings, often only listening to the topics of discussion, but generally involving himself far more in iOS design than in previous iterations.

That strategy has potential. iOS' interface has seen relatively little change since it was first revealed on the original iPhone, and while the decisions Apple took at the time - to ease users into the concept by borrowing physical metaphors like yellow legal pads for Notes, complete with torn paper edges - may have helped make it one of the most approachable platforms, they're seeing increasing criticism since many users have never encountered the real-world equivalents of the design.

Meanwhile rival software like Microsoft's Windows Phone and the latter versions of Google's Android have followed more "authentically digital" paths for their appearance, which has led to suggestions that iOS is comparatively dated. Nonetheless, given the large - and vocal - userbase familiar with iOS and the idea that they can upgrade their iPhone or iPad from one year to the next without having to re-learn how to use them, Apple must tread a careful line not to throw out that familiarity along with the chintz.

We'll be at WWDC 2013 to see all the changes Apple has made, and will be liveblogging the opening keynote on Monday, June 10.


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