Apple Goes “Flat”

I watched the blog ticker yesterday of the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to see what all will be coming down the pipe for iOS and Mac OS. I have to admit that lately I’ve been less than impressed with the lack of seeming innovation coming from Apple. The last couple of years have seemed like more of the same – nothing too special on the UI or functionality standpoint of the line of Apple products. After all, Apple is supposed to be leading the industry, right? With Windows 8’s complete overhaul on design to a “flat”, blocky grid I was mildly impressed with the effort they put into their style guide.

iOS7
The new “Control Center” in iOS7

So, coming into the conference with a somewhat jaded viewpoint (from a true Apple fanboy), I wasn’t expecting to be too excited. But, lo and behold it appears that Apple has done what it does best once again … mash super-simplicity with highly refined elegance. The new “flat” UI kicks the skeuomorphism to the curb and brings a vibrant, polished look to the stage – complete with parallax depth and scrolling effects that are tied to position of the phone, giving the home screen much more depth. I’m actually quite impressed. As people are now more intuitively understanding how buttons, swiping etc. work on a smart phone or desktop the need for hyperrealistic imagery like leather stitching, ripped notepads etc. is no longer a need to guide people in how to use a device. This idea of flat design is kind of a next step into a maturing user base of device users and it creates the flexibility to get super-clean with design and let it “get out of the way” so to speak.

Apple design guru, Jony Ives, described their philosophy of design as taking complex functionality and making it beautifully simple. Booyah! Check out the video here. That’s the challenge all designers face and I think from this first peek it looks like Apple has done it well.

One of the best features of the new iOS 7 is the task-switching feature. This always makes me crazy with my iPhone. I hate that I can’t quickly switch between apps without one closing down and another opening up. Having two apps running concurrently and rapidly switching between them should just work!

In summary, I’ve been a long-time Apple junkie and after a couple of years of feeling a bit “bored” by the lack of excitement I’m pretty excited to see how the new OS (Mavericks) and iOS 7 work in real life.

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