Photo: WPA Pool/Reuters
Last November, Apple changed its executive leadership when it ousted Scott Forstall, who led development of the iPhone from its inception, leaving the company.A lot of people saw the management shake up as a sign that Apple was preparing for a major overhaul of iOS, the software that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.
An iOS overhaul could be in the works, but if people are expecting it this year, they’re probably going to be let down.
Forstall’s role was split between two people: Jony Ive, who would oversee the look and feel of Apple’s mobile software, iOS, and Craig Federighi, who would lead the other aspects of the software.
With Forstall out, a lot of people started excitedly speculating about how iOS would change. One of the biggest complaints about Apple’s software from the tech press was that it was larded with excessively detailed graphics.
Steve Jobs preferred making apps that looked like their real life counterpart. For instance, the notes app looks like a legal pad, complete with fake ripped sheets at the top. After Jobs died, Forstall continued this legacy in apps like Podcasts which had a fake tape machine running in the background.
Crisp lines and minimalism define Ive’s hardware design. The assumption is that Ive will bring that same vision for clean design to iOS and wipe out some of the gaudy excess of Forstall.
This could happen, but if Ive is going to change iOS, it’s going to take time. Apple can’t rejigger iOS in six months.
Speaking on John Gruber’s podcast last week, Guy English, an iOS developer who is friendly with people at Apple said that he knew iOS 7 wasn’t going to be radically different. He warned that it wasn’t based on inside information, but rather years of experience in product development.
“Just the way product planning works and time lines, there’s no way they’re rebooting all of iOS 7 after Forstall left,” he said. “Maybe iOS 8 will be interesting, but iOS 7 will be less of a leap than many people are hoping for.”
Gruber, one the smartest bloggers on Apple, said the same thing: “A lot of people expect iOS 7 to be new, new, new, and they’re going to be disappointed, disappointed, disappointed.”
If Apple has ideas for changing iOS significantly, look for them in 2014.
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