Apple released iOS 7 last week, a complete overhaul of the look and feel of the software that runs iPhones and iPads.
It’s a simpler, more sparse design.
The software redesign was led by Jony Ive, who was previously Apple’s lead hardware designer. As far as we can tell, this is his first major software design project at Apple.
He explained his thought process for the redesign to USA Today, saying, “When we sat down last November (to work on iOS 7), we understood that people had already become comfortable with touching glass, they didn’t need physical buttons, they understood the benefits. So there was an incredible liberty in not having to reference the physical world so literally. We were trying to create an environment that was less specific. It got design out of the way.”
Ive killed all the life-like illustrations and animations in iOS, replacing them with something more digitally native, less leaning on what we see in the real world.
For instance, Apple’s “Game Center” had a Las Vegas-style gambling table with fake wood and textured green felt. Now, Game Center is a white background with a couple of coloured bubbles that don’t seem to represent anything from real life. The Notes app used to look like a yellow legal pad. Now, it’s just a plain white background.
Steve Jobs was a big fan of the life-like illustrations. The fact that Apple is getting rid of them makes iOS 7 the first really post-Steve Jobs product Apple has released.
By all accounts Jobs and Ive were very close collaborators. Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell said of the two, “Most people in Steve’s life are replaceable. But not Jony.”
And yet despite their partnership, clearly Ive didn’t have the same software taste. It’s interesting, and bold, that he decided to torch Jobs’ software.
We wonder if Ive always disliked the design, or if he just felt like it was time for a change. The USA Today interview suggests it was the latter.
Ive’s partner Craig Federighi further explained why Apple went a different direction with design, saying new technology made it possible: “This is the first post-Retina (Display) UI (user interface), with amazing graphics processing thanks to tremendous GPU (graphics processing unit) power growth, so we had a different set of tools to bring to bear on the problem as compared to seven years ago (when the iPhone first launched). Before, the shadowing effect we used was a great way to distract from the limitations of the display. But with a display that’s this precise, there’s nowhere to hide. So we wanted a clear typography.”
Ive followed, saying, “Yes, we wanted to defer to the content, and just get out of the way.”