CR Blog

Apple reveals sleek new iOS7

Digital, Graphic Design, Type / Typography

Posted by Creative Review, 10 June 2013, 21:46    Permalink    Comments (34)

It's goodbye to faux wood, felt and metal as Apple unveils a sleek new UI design for iOS7, the first major UI project released under the direction of Sir Jonathan Ive

The new-look iOS7 was unveiled at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco after months of speculation that, under Ive's direction, the company was about to ditch its increasingly outmoded attachment to skeuomorphism.

Apple claims that "as we reconsidered iOS, our purpose was to create an experience that was simpler, more useful, and more enjoyable" in a press statement that seems keen to stress the idea that the new look is not simply an exercise in styling. "Redesigning the way it works led us to redesign the way it looks. Because good design is design that’s in service of the experience," Apple say.




iOS7 is simpler, cleaner, flatter. It makes extensive use of what looks to be Helvetica Neue Ultra Light creating a much lighter feel.

To compare before and after, take a look at the previous design for the compass


Compared to the new compass in iOS7 (below and below right)


Also, take a look at Newsstand (far left) - no more hideous fake wooden shelving


Here's the new-look calendar


and weather where, Apple says "Hail bounces off text, and fog passes in front of it. Storm clouds come into view with a flash of lightning. And suddenly, checking the weather is like looking out a window."


Apple claims that the redesign provides "a new structure, applied across the whole system, that brings clarity to the entire experience. The interface is purposely unobtrusive. Conspicuous ornamentation has been stripped away. Unnecessary bars and buttons have been removed. And in taking away design elements that don’t add value, suddenly there’s greater focus on what matters most: your content."



We've only got screen grabs to go on so far (the new iOS won't be publicly available until the autumn) so we're unable to vouch for the UI experience or any of the little touches that Apple is claiming will make iOS7 a delight to use but it certainly looks a vast improvement on the previous design.

But ... it's an improvement on an existing model. A much-needed, very well produced upgrade. But it's not a paradigm shift. It's not a new approach or a reimagination of the way in which we interact with our screens. It doesn't change our thinking or revolutionise an industry in the way that Apple has done so many times before. In that regard, it could be argued that Microsoft with Windows Phone 8 has been more innovative, more daring.

For that "Oh my God moment" it's necessary to turn to another innovation announced at Apple's WWDC, the new, 9.9-inch tall Mac Pro desktop computer, which looks like this. Wow

Pink Floyd fans may recognise the cover of our June issue. It's the original marked-up artwork for Dark Side of the Moon: one of a number of treasures from the archive of design studio Hipgnosis featured in the issue, along with an interview with Aubrey Powell, co-founder of Hipgnosis with the late, great Storm Thorgerson. Elsewhere in the issue we take a first look at The Purple Book: Symbolism and Sensuality in Contemporary Illustration, hear from the curators of a fascinating new V&A show conceived as a 'walk-in book' plus we have all the regular debate and analysis on the world of visual communications.

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2013-06-10 22:49:06

While the new interface is a leap in the right direction, if not far too late for such a forward thinking company. I still feel it lacks the character, excitement, and bold re-imagining that Windows achieved with their Windows Phone UI changes.

Leo Field
2013-06-10 23:10:25

I don't mind the new look of the iOS interface but is it all starting to feel a little too Windows? I'm also loving the slick look of the new black Apple iBin.
Jimmy Macin
2013-06-10 23:11:35

It's the font choice that really gets on my nerves - a leading brand should lead the way with character and originality rather than a perfect representation of what we already perceive as current modernist UI design
Leo Field
2013-06-10 23:30:23

Agree, its way too late and perhaps its just me but it just doesn't seem like the Apple we're all used to.
Great Wolf
2013-06-11 09:28:15

I'm in agreement with Leo. A new, bespoke typeface would have helped differentiate this iOS from the competition. It doesn't feel like they've paid great attention to the typography by using Helvetica Neue. The screens here look less distinctly Apple. On the whole it's hard not to think they're playing catch up, there's ceratainly no big leap here.

As for the Mac Pro. Yep, could be good. Though without any reference of scale, it could be a pen holder. What does the other side look like?
Nick Waddington
2013-06-11 09:42:50

If it works it's done it's job. It doesn't need to be innovative. Design there to serve a purpose. The old design did that, the new one will do it too.

Love the new Mac Pro. Just a shame they couldn't at least have told people they were working on it as many have jumped ship to PC or gone for an iMac.
2013-06-11 09:45:31

Nick - here's your scale comparison to the old MacPro - wow!

Yup - about penholder size! The other size just has a column of input slots.

With regard to iOS7 - I think I like it... thinking the icons might be a little bright and cheery, almost cartoony, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. Functionality looks incredible, which is the main thing.
2013-06-11 10:21:04

At least it's Metro not Retro
2013-06-11 10:29:11

I think the new IOS design is an improvement although thats not going to be widely disputed I think.

Really not sure about the new mac pro design however, feels a little gimmicky - I think i'd be slightly embarased to have this on my desk to be honest.

Reading a little about the design concept of the centralised heat sink (read elsewhere) it makes a little more sense. I can't help but think roundness is not very practical in many ways.

I think my main concern is there is no space for additional storage and customisation. Apples idea of "customisable" seems to be lots of external ports; if you work on location a lot having additional internal drives rather than lots of external hardrives and cable is nice. No doubt Apple have soldered in the RAM modules as well (as they have done to newer laptops) which isn't exactly "customisable"

Just slightly depressing the way this company has been going.
2013-06-11 10:59:14

The icons are dreadful, there are some really nasty ones there – Safari, Newsstand and Settings in particular, but the functionality seems excellent.

I was hoping for a move away from the rounded-edge icons packed onto the home screen look, but once you launch a few apps you can pretend it's not there anyway due to the improved multitasking and navigation...
2013-06-11 11:24:33

I think the Mac Pro looks great, and the cooling system (which explains the cylindrical vacuum shape) is an amazing idea. Hopefully it'll come with some R2-D2 stickers too...
Liam Sharp
2013-06-11 11:28:24

I agree with a lot of the comments here. This appears to be more of a 'step up to the mark' rather than a 'step ahead' Apple just aren't as fast to respond to trends that appear to be set by the competition. It's a definite improvement on iOS6 but I'm left feeling the OS needed a bigger shake up than this. I can see navigation borrowed from other developers. Apple used to be the trend setters !!
Gary Bendelow
2013-06-11 11:30:24

Is that an iBin?

Looks like it sucks/pulls the air in through the center to cool the computer not a bad idea....

dyson air blade x apple?
2013-06-11 11:59:04

@Steve They did tell people they were working on it. Tim Cook mentioned it several months ago.
2013-06-11 12:34:21

it's of course nice design, though a bit too girly, and the 3d home screen is going to be awesome.

But somehow it's not Apple anymore. Its simple eye-candy instead of revolutionary in any other way.

Besides that i have the feeling Apple lost it a bit. The android, windows and new BB devices have
better OSs. And the iPhone, device itself looks very old fashioned with the new look.

I already left iPhone for another smartphone. And this doesn't make me regret this.
The magic is gone.
2013-06-11 12:42:35

I like it

especially the icons and the circle tube.
joe baglow
2013-06-11 12:53:45

The app icons are poor, and feel disconnected in places - there's not enough consistency for me. I hate the garish green of the messaging / call app and the Game Centre icon especially. Truth be told I preferred iOS 6's icon set, I think this new set will probably look dated very quickly - the price for paying catch up and "innovating" so late on in the game.

All that said the animations seem well executed, and the general user interface very well thought-out.
2013-06-11 13:10:54

Very excited about the new Mac Pro - I've held off upgrading for yonks waiting for it. The size they've reduced it down to is amazing.
Nicholas Maroussas
2013-06-11 13:59:33

The new OS is a classic modernist approach. Functionality rules. No more (American?) bad design influence like wooden shelfs. Now the graphics have the same quality as the hardware. Readers of CR should know better their art history (graphics) and appreciate this improvement.
Ray Laenens
2013-06-11 16:12:09

The icon design is a better approach than previously, but actually executed worse. Show us your grid systems by all means, but those icons are terribly designed. Still far too complicated, and the distance between the inner circles and the round corners create some seriously dodgy inner spacing. Also not a fan of the out-focus layer backgrounds.
2013-06-11 19:53:09

I was thinking about the mac pro design a bit more. As they have shrunk the size it appears that you can no longer put in extra drives meaning you have to use externals. It makes for an slick looking, compact design in the shop and in ads but the de facto reality is cables and external drives cluttering the place up.

Similarly the Iphone, looks amazing with its glossy( breakable) screen but the defacto reality is everyone has ugly cases rendering the design arguably irrelevant (and a sub industry has popped up repairing broken screens).

Both these examples show how the interface with our day to day lives is ignored and what is arguably necessary for de facto functionality excluded from the presentation of the product.

This is not good design - its superficial design , aesthetic design over function.
2013-06-11 20:01:02

According to the site, and in keeping with the Apple holism mantra, "no detail is just a detail". And then they decide to employ a Helvetica Neue Light variant (or if it’s not, something very, very similar). Bizarre. Surely refine/redesign Myriad? Apparently that detail was just a detail. Now the typography looks generic and a little dated.

Aside from that it’s an improvement aesthetically, though I share the sentiment that it’s hardly revolutionary. Some nice touches by the looks of it, and some poor colour and symbol choices. Bit of a mixed bag, and agree that the keeping up with the Joneses model has led to an above average, but less differentiated look.

The Mac Pro, on the other hand, looks like a genuinely bold and brave step, so fair play.

Can’t judge either in their totality until I’ve used them though.
2013-06-11 22:26:11

B U S T E D! This is how all the haters feel about the new Apple products: they see a fat juice barbecued ribs served with gravy in a warm house and they're out in the cold starving. Who wouldn't hate?
At least lick your lips before you go away.
2013-06-11 22:47:23

@raylaenens Nope. This is not a 'classic modernist approach' far from it in fact, looking at your design history, even though Apple have tried to take a step forward in reductionism, you'd find it hard comparing this too elegantly true 'modernist' design from the likes of Crouwell, Aicher or Widmer. Unfortunately the whole fanfare created by Apple in regards to eliminating the Skeuomorphic aspects only applied to its worst offending bits (the leather etc) many of the icons still retain gradiented aspects and drop shadows. The inconsistency between icon styles is what really lets the new OS down though, glancing over the home screen shows absolutely no coherence between items. On the plus side though I'd say the new mac tower is an excellent move.
2013-06-12 10:31:29

I read a quote from Jonathan Ive, stating something along the lines of "skeuomorphism was solving a problem we no longer have". So when touchscreens were new, people needed visual clues what to do - for example, if something looked like a big shiny 3D button, you're probably supposed to press it. Or if it looked like paper notepad, you are supposed to write on it. However, now that people are more familiar with touch, it's no longer necessary. There was an article on FastCompany that explained it all.

He knows what he's doing does that Mr. Ive!
2013-06-12 11:06:12

@raylaenens Nope. This is not a 'classic modernist approach' far from it in fact, looking at your design history, even though Apple have tried to take a step forward in reductionism, you'd find it hard comparing this too elegantly true 'modernist' design from the likes of Crouwell, Aicher or Widmer. Unfortunately the whole fanfare created by Apple in regards to eliminating the Skeuomorphic aspects only applied to its worst offending bits (the leather etc) many of the icons still retain gradiented aspects and drop shadows. The inconsistency between icon styles is what really lets the new OS down though, glancing over the home screen shows absolutely no coherence between items. On the plus side though I'd say the new mac tower is an excellent move.
2013-06-12 11:08:36

This seems like a lot, and it is. But really, these are just the features I spotted during Monday’s keynote and on Apple’s iOS 7 website. This version of iOS is clearly a major release from the company, and I bet there’s a whole bunch of interesting new stuff hidden away for us to discover when it actually ships this fall.
Nelsan Ellis
2013-06-12 11:29:17

Too late. Too little. Too much like every other smartphone UI.
I think Mr Ive may have taken quite a few cues from the Nokia Meego UI that was on the Nokia N9.
Like many others on here I think we are witnessing the beginnings of the end of good run for Apple. Shame.
I only hope Google's charge for world domination is thwarted soon.
2013-06-12 12:13:34

I'm really not sure how any of these new changes are in keeping with Apple design philosophy. To me it just looks messy, garish and unclear. The only reason I jailbroke my phone so I could mute the colours of the icons.

Also iTunes seems to have gone the same way, I feel lucky to not have updated past 10 after seeing the new UI. I'm a big fan of their Dieter inspired design aesthetic as minimalism and continuity are most important to me but I get the feeling they are starting to pander to the masses and that the software design is suffering in Job's absence.
2013-06-12 15:47:09

Its seems Microsoft jumped on the 'Metro' a bit quicker than Apple, so to speak. The visual link is plain to see
James Love
2013-06-21 12:36:54

I am pleased to see CR have covered this. I think many of the new functions within the iOS update look great such as the way the new photo app will work.

I did write a blog post recently though about the visual appearance of iOS7 from a web designers perspective.

You can see this here:
Matthew Stapleford
2013-06-27 10:02:40

In use the bright colours work well and it is the grey icons that get lost.
The implementation of a 3d game engine is a clue about the apps we will see around the end of the year. The transitions like the ones in Calendar, Photos and Safari apps hint at how data can be presented.

We never considered apps as simple as Flipboard or ShowYou before the iPad and the same will be with iOS 7. We cannot limit it to what we have seen in a 2d space when ios7 gives developers a 3d space in which to create.

Lots of people have mentioned Metro but we must consider whether it has led to third parties really stretching how data is presented or how interaction occurs beyond the home screen.
2013-08-04 16:29:02

Agreed with all comments made about too little, too late. It is an improvement on the current though, and for that reason alone I welcome it.

I will not move to the windows phone, though. Mainly because anything I do not like with ios7, I can simply change once a jailbreak is found. I consider it a nice personal side project.
Secondly, but off topic.. the lack of apps Microsoft apparently have.
2013-08-13 12:29:50

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