iOS 7: The more taps you make, the more it just clicks

I consider myself a design enthusiast, mainly within the realm of technology and even more specifically, in software. I only know basic HTML and CSS and my Photoshop skills are mediocre at best, but I do love to admire or critique what people far more talented and experienced than I am come up with.

When iOS 7 was first announced back in June and I got my hands on the developer beta shortly after, I wasn't really all that impressed. I loathed the new home screen icons with every fiber in my being, the new white backgrounds and bright color palette were a bit too much to take in all at once, and there were a lot of little imperfections across the board.

Now it's been a little over a month since the entire public has been able to install iOS 7 and use it on their iPhones and iPads on a daily basis. Quite a few Fisher Price jokes have been made about the color palette, and they summed up my initial impressions as well. The elegance of the beautiful new typography and faux 3D browser tabs seemed to clash with the practically neon blue navigation and boring, flat tab buttons. I thought it was pretty obvious that iOS 6 looked better. From the glossy blue text bubbles in Messages to the intense level of detail in each icon, it was just gorgeous.

The good news is I'm finally starting to just get iOS 7. I know that on a touch screen device you're supposed to make taps, but ironically it's all now starting to click. My favorite part of the OS is actually that it no longer tries to be anything it's not. Text messages don't try to be glossy bubbles, icons don't try to be shiny or 3D, and the Music app doesn't try to be a modernized jukebox. Everything seems to have a clean purpose.

The blurred transparent background of something like Notification Center is to indirectly tell the user the content you were just viewing is temporarily behind what you're viewing now. The parallax effect of your home screen wallpaper serves the same purpose to the icons. The gloss in Messages is replaced with a simple blue (or green) text background because the gloss was unnecessary eye candy. Tapping an icon now transitions to the app itself by zooming in directly from the icon to make clear what you're opening. The new software design principles put focus on content and functionality above all else, including how appealing and attractive everything might actually look.

Now I certainly don't want to give Apple all the credit here because I think it's naive to deny it received any inspiration from competitors. However, contrary to popular belief, I think Apple drew more inspiration from Windows Phone than Android. Windows Phone's UI has been "flat" since its start. It's also heavily text-based. Many parts of iOS 7's UI that once relied on buttons and shapes are now represented solely by text. Multitasking is nearly identical, too, although both iOS and Windows Phone owe their multitasking designs to Palm's webOS. I'm not accusing anyone of copying anyone here, but I do think some existing ideas are being built off of.

Not everything about iOS 7 is perfect though and it still does need work. Navigation buttons are sometimes too hard to see since they are often outlines rather than filled, some of the home screen icons are still mediocre to my eye, and there's some minor touching up needed throughout the OS. I'm still not completely adjusted to the bright color palette, but I don't necessarily think it's an ugly design choice just a different one; one some people including myself need to get adjusted to.

What I'm even more interested in at this point is the future. How might iOS 7's fresh design influence the competition to potentially follow the trend Apple is setting? How will Apple eventually apply these design principles to the Mac with OS X? How might the competition solve some of the problems or critiques people have with iOS 7? These are all questions I'm looking forward to having answers for.

For those of you who haven't quite gotten used to iOS 7 yet, give it more time. Expect that Apple will incrementally improve on the design and UI in the coming months and years. It's not perfect, but iOS 7's simple yet purposeful intentions are worthy of admiration, an emotion that comes in time.

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