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Jun 12, 2013

Things I Wish Apple Will Fix Before iOS7 Lands In My Pocket

iOS-7-icon

Disclaimer: I’ve been using iOS since my 5 years old kid was born, for something like… oh yeah, 5 years.
I have never complained about the UI (except for the location of the back button) but I am about to complain now.

There are tons of new features in iOS7, new gestures, new apps, new in-apps features, new look, and new usability enhancements all over the place. We are going to enjoy iOS7, and yet, the topic most of us are with is the new UI which looks flat, a bit messy (to my opinion), unpolished, and way too bright.

I knew it was coming, from the minute Apple changed their AppStore design all the way to applications such as Feedly (which I actually like), that took the flat style to the next level. And still, when comparing the UI Microsoft has invented few years ago with Metro/Modern style, and the likes of Feedly apps, with Apple’s new iOS design – I can’t help but grumble about some of the design decisions taken by Apple’s designers.

Here are my very first impressions, 24 hours after seeing iOS7 for the first time:

Yep, it’s too much like Metro/Modern UI:

New font (thin, less readable, but very worm), no gradient colors, no gradient shadows in the lock screen, no button frames, ridiculously simple 2D icons: is it Windows Phone? I was shocked when I started using the first Windows Phone, and I am a bit shocked with iOS7. I learned to love Windows Phone a lot, so I’m hoping the same will happen to me with iOS7. Microsoft copied Apple’s “closed” environment approach few years ago, Apple is returning a favor by copying many aspects of the flat user interface.

When iOS 5 was released it included a lot of small features which were “borrowed” from other operating systems such as BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, but the result was amazing: beautiful and useful. It was in many ways better than the original, and as a spoiled consumer I actually didn’t care who invented it. With iOS7, there are parts that feel not as polished as the original – and I hope Apple intends to keep polishing them until they are perfect.

 

Gross! Who picked that horrible new color pallet?

The first thing that came to my mind when l just saw the new homescreen was: “Gross! Why did they inverted those perfectly fine colors?” It actually reminded me of the way the homescreens look when the inverted color accessibility option is turned on. “What happened to the green? it got so… green! And what happened to the blue? it turned into turquoise!” Yikes.  

photo 2   inverted iphone   iOS7homescreen

I believe the icons will keep changing as Apple will continue to finalize iOS7. The brightness really stands out, but I’m not sure it is a positive thing. Personally I like the old ones better. In addition there are many inconsistencies in the icons which make me believe they are not the final ones. Notice some icons are still “3D” like (with some gradient colors giving them some depth) while others are completely flat.

Here is one example: in this line: 2 gradient icons (old style) with 2 completely flat ones, giving this line an inconsistent feel:

flaticons

The way to solve this is quite simple; either stick with some gradient colors or make all of them completely flat.

Here are 2 proposed designs which I found in here. The right one is completely flat, which may not be your favorite option but at least has a consistent look. I prefer the left option, BTW.

xlarge  xlarge

The example below takes the Apple original icons and “tunes” them a little bit to look more consistent than the original ones:

ios-7---dribbble-preview_1x 

 

What about those pen drawing looking icons?

In the apps themselves there are even bigger problems and inconsistencies (hopefully will be fixed in the formal release). In the example below – 2 completely different icons styles (top line belongs to the music app, bottom line belong to the browser) – I’m pretty sure (and I’m hope I’m right!) that the bottom icons which are pretty ugly, are only temporary and will be changed into something which is more aligned with the gray style buttons on the top. 

icons inconsistent

 

So buttons are gone, but why so much text?

When Microsoft released Windows Phone it used text instead of buttons, but made sure to keep the screen clean.

iOS7 changed the top bar completely and turned the famous caption bar that used to stand out with a title with 2 or more buttons, into 3 text elements. The result is quite messy. Check out the following examples where too much text blends together and creates an overloaded screen: the first one belongs to Windows Phone, the second two belong to iOS 7.

  photo 3   photo 1   

The email app (picture in the center) actually looks quite clean and still more informative than the Windows Phone one, but the photos app on the right looks a bit too messy for my eyes. Too many text elements, each element serving a different role (title, button, link). When the design included different “boxed” areas – it was easier to digest the UI but with everything turning into text with similar colors (black or blue and white background) the challenge grows. I don’t think the photos app looks good, the new features are great but the design looks too crowded.

 

Control Center – A great tool with a weird UI:

Control center. What the hell happened there?
The rounded buttons look like they were taken from Windows Phone, and the question is: why use this style only in this feature? Isn’t there an inconsistency issue once again?
The bottom area holds some apps shortcuts that do not look identical to the app icon itself. .
The overall layout feels a bit too messy and I hope it’s just the beginning and we will see more features better organized.

Control Center   winphonemenu

Summary

iOS 7 will be exciting. Tons of new features all over. I have some issues with the default design: new icons, default background (the first thing I intend to change) and some areas in different apps which feel “unfinished”.

My assumption is that this is just the beginning and that Apple will provide more improvements and a more balanced version towards the fall, but if not – I may need that jailbreak urgently after all.



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