Apple's Jony Ive on iOS 7: 'It got design out of the way'

Apple's Jony Ive on iOS 7: 'It got design out of the way'

Now that iOS 7 is out in the world, it's no longer the domain of registered developers and others with special access. Millions of iOS users are downloading the new version and installing it on their devices, which leads many to questions about how and why the design decisions behind it were made. To answer those questions, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi and senior vice president of design Jony Ive sat down with USA Today.

Ive said that iOS and touchscreen interfaces on mobile devices have matured - and users are now comfortable with the interface. That's why Apple moved away from skeuomorphism - the mimicry of real world objects - in the new design.

"...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."

Federighi explained that iOS 7 represents the first iOS version created since Retina Displays were introduced with the iPhone 4. He mentioned the vast increases in graphics power newer iOS devices possess, and explained how that lead to some essential elements of iOS 7.

"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."

The iPhone 5c has disappointed critics who felt that, for the money, Apple should have packed more in under the hood, or charged less. Federighi says that in the end, specs are meaningless to most people. Most consumers, Federighi said, are more interested in what you can actually do with the device.

"My family cares about taking a good picture, not a megapixel count. We carry that through to all the decisions we make about our phone. What experience is it going to deliver? Not what number will it allow us to put on a spec sheet."

And if he wasn't designing techology, what would Ive like to design instead?

"I'd like to design cups."

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Apple's Jony Ive on iOS 7: 'It got design out of the way'

18 Comments

Agreed. And design did get out of the way, that is very evident in some of the apps and decisions. I still feel it is a mistake to have one man in charge of hardware and software design.

Of course it is all subjective, because I think if he is the one responsible for what I am enjoying today on my iPhone, I think it was a good design. I like where iOS 7 is and I am excited to see where it is going.

I agree it is subjective. To be fair, a lot of my complaints are with certain specific things that don't apply to all apps. Notes and compass are my biggest complaints app wise. The overuse of glowing white coupled to bright colors is another. I also dislike the green used in text messages. Overall I am glad for a lot of the changes, just not some of the graphical decisions. I hope they keep iBooks like it is and don't give it the flat look. Maybe remove some of the gradients as well.

I realize my views are probably in the minority, and that is fine.

I agree, I think iBooks was the best "skeuomorphic" app. However, I have a feeling it would end up like Newsstand, at least in terms of design. Notes, I have no problem with, but the Compass icon is a bit off, but it is lost in my one folder which I call "Launcher", WebOS anyone?

No one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.
What's up with tacky Apple PR pics ?!

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Exactly ! Seems like all they cared about is font change and a new paint job, even tho they've designed it ground up.

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Amen pegasusl! Let's strip everything to the most basic of basics and call it "design". Thin, sans serif fonts in a sea of white is not design. What's next for iOS8, Atari 2600 style graphics?

Sounds like your one of those proponents who thinks design is filling up empty space unnecessarily. You should go work for Microsoft and design them back into XP. You know...with thin fonts of course.

I actually do quite like minimal...but the colour scheme and the "cartoon garbage" is what I dont like. Minimal can be classy...this isn't

Ok gotcha. Wow a civilized difference of opinion. This is why I love the folk in iMore. Very much unlike the hate fest that happens on other tech sites.

Great USA today article. I like what Ive said. Get design out of the way. That is what I have come to enjoy about iOS in the past year. It gets out the way and let's you interact with the applications. And this update is IMO clean and 'tight'. Control center is clutter free. The translucent veil over the backgrounds looks great. Multitasking though seen before in other OSes is finally done well. But after getting accustomed to all of this you get back to the task of using your iPhone to get on with life and be productive if that's your thing. I got excited when he hinted at the 'treats' to come down the pike. Apple haters including financial analyst and the popular media like #Net can gripe all they want about Apple heading south. I think their best years are ahead. I am sure 'Sammy' will have a fingerprint sensor by next month. But who cares its Apple's philosophy of doing what the heck they please that is turning me into a proud fanboy after only a year. Can't wait to be holding a brand new iPhone 5s in November when I am eligible for the upgrade.

The main dislike I have it the colour of links in the note pad. The pad is bright white and the links are bright yellow. Makes it rather difficult to read. Overall though it has taken me a bit of getting used to but I quite like it. I prefer the grey on safari though. Also I want iTunes Radio in the uk.