5 Oct 2013


I haven't updated to iOS 7 yet. And not just because I don't like the sickly colour overload. There's no disputing that there are some neat functions available that Apple users have long been patient without. Marking all email as read, having a working Clock app icon, the Command Centre of course. But for me there are too many flaws that tell me that the workers at Apple (one of my favourite brands out there) haven't understood their task.

Skeumorphism to flat design, the main visual change that iOS 7 brings and a point of conversation that has seen the internet erupt with opinion and debate. Yes, I was never a fan of that torn paper look on iCal and Notes, or the tacky stage curtains in Photo Booth – I fucking hated it. But that's not to say skeumorphism should have been scrapped altogether. It's true I'm not certain to what extent that terminology actually refers to, but I believe it was originally brought about for a good reason (why else would Steve Jobs have given it the go ahead?). Its benefits were to help us use it easily and seamlessly, without ever feeling unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Natural user intuition. Subtle things like seeing the tone of shadows change as we press a 'button' to mimic the depth of actually pushing a button – these are the details that we may not have actively appreciated, but are fundamental in persuading our brains and instincts that we're using it right. Unfortunately the stripped back anti-skeumorphism platform of iOS 7 is so extreme that it's lost that basic intuition, I feel. The buttons are so unclear that I can't even tell what's press-able and what isn't – and I'd consider myself sufficiently tech-savvy. There's a massive lack of hierarchy or distinction throughout: what's currently selected, where's my active field of working, where does the title end and the description begin?

Removing the 'leather' bookmark tab and the faux stitch binding is justly undoing unnecessary skeumorphism, sure, but removing shadows and clarity is just backwards and illogical. And it's just so white. It seems the designers were so keen to simplify and clean up that they lost sight of the overarching priorities that their product must achieve. It's been long documented that Apple have slowed down, if not stopped, their innovation, but this software revamp is a terrible step in the wrong direction. At best, they've caught up with their competitors in terms of functionality, which we'd argue is long overdue and largely to please our previous frustrations. But since when were Apple satisfied with just catching up? What happened to being the leading tech house that raised and pushed the fast-changing industry? Shame really.

This entry is written on a whim as a result of slowly accumulated thought and no direct research. My arguments may turn out to be invalid and might one day decide that I actually quite fancy the update, who knows.

>> Find out more about Apple's latest software update here. The image used in this post is taken from the linked page.

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