Critics split on Apple iOS 7: Hideous, unoriginal or a thing of pure beauty?

By Staff /  12 Jun 2013 , 10:58

Apple showcased its latest mobile software iOS 7 on Monday at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for 2013. iOS 7 has seen a radical redesign with a new Notification Centre, a new Control Panel, different wallpapers, new app icons to name some.

iOS 7 definitely didn’t have the whole black and white design that was being rumoured and instead is a flash of colour and actually seems much brighter than it was before. But the new design has sparked debates over whether Apple stole the design from Android or Windows 8 or just created an unholy union of the two.

We take a look at what the critics are saying:

According to Aurich Lawson at ArsTechnica, the influence of Windows Phone 8 and its live tiles cannot be denied on iOS 7. He in fact also points that the new shapes of the icons with more rounded corners strongly mirrors how apps looked on Nokia’s Symbian.

He writes, Am I saying iOS 7 ripped off WP8? Not at all-it’s not that cut and dried. But Microsoft set a direction; Apple is following a bit more and not leading quite so much.

It would be a mistake to call what Apple is doing now “flat” because it isn’t. We still have drop shadows, gradients, and the interesting parallax effect when you tilt your phone screen. “Pared down” is more accurate. But the Metro influence is unquestionable.

He also points out that iOS 7′s app switcher for multitasking seems to be a rip-off from Palm WebOS cards. But you can also choose to see it as subtle change on how the app switcher looks in Android. In Android, the multi-tasking bar shows all your open apps in a straight vertical line, while in iOS 7 it’s all horizontal.

iOS 7 in this screengrab.
iOS 7 in this screengrab.

Matt Buchanan, writing for The New Yorker, wrote that Apple’s design change needs to be seen in the present context. He points that when iOS first came out in 2007, there was no other smartphone quite like it.

He writes, For all the criticism that Apple received yesterday-that the new icons are hideous, and that many of the ideas it touts as new, such as the hierarchy and order imposed by intricate layering, are in fact borrowed-its embrace of a more modernist, if more trendy, interface is noteworthy. Apple introduced consumers to the graphical interface with the first Macintosh, and, decades later, to the modern smartphone with the first iPhone – both times using design metaphors and principles grounded in the real world.

Apple, he says, is breaking away from its past designs which were literal. (The Newsstand app used to have an actual wooden Newsstand in the back which is gone in iOS 7) And it’s safe to say there’s nothing wrong with that, even it looks a lot like Android or Windows 8.

Designer Frank Chimero writing on his blog, felt Apple’s design change was a rushed affair given that Jonathan Ive only had seven months to change it all. He wrote, “…I saw a bunch of rushed designers unable to stabilize an uneven interface. It’s worth remembering that Ive took over Human Interface only 7 months ago, and they redesigned the whole phone in that time. Straight up: seven months is a ridiculous deadline.”

Jon Gruber, writing on his blog, approved of the new design stating that it was anything but flat. He wrote,

There is a profound reduction in the use of faux-3D visual effects and textures, but iOS 7 is anything but flat. It is three dimensional not just visually but logically. It uses translucency not to show off, but to provide you with a sense of place. When you pull the new Control Center panel up from the bottom of the screen, its translucency lets you know that you haven’t gone somewhere new, you’re just looking at something over where you were.

This is the first product of the post-Jobs Apple. The result shows that in some ways Apple’s software design has gotten better.

Overall the majority of opinion seems to be that iOS 7 does seem to have borrowed a lot of elements from Android and Windows Phone 8 and that Apple’s design while a radical change is far from perfect.

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