iOS 7 whiteout: Will the future be bleached?

iOS 7 whiteout: Will the future be bleached?

Last year, after Twitterrific 5 launched, I loved the pure, Vader black look so much I changed my wallpaper to get the full-on blackout look. Then, in June of this year, Apple showed off iOS 7 and it was, for the most part, whiter than Storm Trooper white. Now, Twitterrific 5 has updated with a new, iOS 7-friendlier design, and just looking at it in black suddenly felt... heavy.

So, I tapped into Settings and flipped the switch to the white theme. And then the skies opened up. Well, not really, but everything looked and felt light and open and what Apple was doing with the whiteness of iOS 7 suddenly made sense.

It's the difference between traditionally white paper pages and traditionally black electronic monitors. On the former, text and color seems to punch out, to float, to soar as if on clouds. On the latter, text and color seems to burn through, to emerge from the deep, to live inside shadow. The feeling is viscerally different, and the transition not only to Retina displays, but to dynamic, object-oriented interface seems to make everything old media seem new media now.

I won't switch to a white wallpaper, because the parallax effect in IOS 7 is so still so delightful I'm not anywhere nearly ready to give it up, and parallax requires something to orient against for it to work. But I'll be keeping Twitterrific 5 in white mode, and likely any other app that gives me the option, for the foreseeable future.

I wonder if app designers will feel the same way, and, following iOS 7, if apps will become, if not whiter, than brighter and lighter by default as well?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 7 whiteout: Will the future be bleached?


I have this problem with myself when I look at the iPhone hardware. I like the black, but I also really like the aluminum on the white. Wish they made a combo so it would look like the MacBook Pros

There's not a single image of iOS 7 on a black iPhone shown by Apple. This currently makes me want to switch to a white phone after only ever having had black ones up until now. Does iOS 7 still look good on the black phone as well?

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Yes really..... I have a black Iphone as well and am not 100% on board with this white easter candy theme. I do like the look of it, but Its fascinating that not one piece of promotion shows a black phone.

I too have iOS 7 installed on a black iPhone 5, and must admit that although previous iOS' have kind of melded into the phone, this update does kind of just sit on top of the phone. I noticed the same thing as you when Apple unveiled the iOS and it (as well as on their website) only featured on a white iPhone.

I've had only black iPhone's since the 3G and recently took the leap of faith with my previous 4S later dismay. I'd say stick with the black one as I'm more than pleased to have it with iOS 7 and wouldn't look back. My friends have said they think 7 actually looks better on the black than the white, but I'm kind of a stickler for everything feeling uniform. I don't think it looks terrible though!

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Yeah, looks great on black. They probably want iOS 7 to "pop" in all the press photos, and white disappears more into the background.

I noticed this as well and thought the same thing about how it will look. I currently have a white iPhone but made the decision to put it in a black Incipio Atlas case when i switched cases last time. Previously I have always used a case that showed the facing of the phone or a case that is white (Lifeproof Fre). I don't know if I will be buying the new iPhone this year until it is announced and I see some features but the final look of iOS 7 will probably have a lot to do with what color I choose.

Just throwin it out there, I personally hated the look of it on the black iPhone. The black really accentuated everything I hate about iOS 7 in the first place. Luckily my personal phone is white and it doesn't matter because I'm sticking with iOS 6 for the rest of my life.

Weirdly, the opposite is true. On LCD displays, white takes the least power. On OLEDs, it's the other way around.

Indeed, which is why Windows Phone, which was originally going to come with a white variant, never has (and no one talks about it any more or even mentions that it was in the cards to begin with).

Android phones will always be predominantly black for this reason too.

Which is nice because it sets up a "good guy/bad guy" thing wherein Apple is the white hat, and Android is the black hat.

There is a white theme for Windows Phone. Almost every single app on Windows Phone offers a light or dark theme as well.

I wasn't aware they made it available. The reason I wasn't aware however was because no one uses it, and it's never even shown in ads or demos. It was kind of touted as a big feature just before the initial release and then disappeared after that.

I've owned each iPhone since day 1 2007 in black. Last year when 5 launched I got white for a change. Love it, love it, love it. Won't be switching back.

The beauty of the hardware design is lost in black. Plus it feels foreboding.

No not different for all.First, Its Twitterrific. default font color is black when you get mention shows up different color and also your tweets are in different color.

I am not a developer so got to wait for release of iOS 7. But definitely hoping most apps don't go white. Lighter is great. Yet having a choice to mess with the backgrounds is great. The opposite for me have a white 4S and thinking about switching to black 5S. I think now the contrast will be interesting.

I love black. It's my favorite color. I don't like white phones or appliances so i hope everything doesn't go white. My backgrounds are always always very dark

I'm not looking forward to developers following Apple's lead with more white because of the extra eye strain at night or in a darkened room. I frequently use the "invert colors" accessibility feature when reading at night because the screen is so bright even at the lowest brightness settings.
It would be splendid if Apple made a simple "light/dark" setting to change the overall UI tone. Developers could choose a complimentary color schemes that switched automatically or even choose to ignore it altogether.

Ritchie - I always enjoy reading your articles on Apple, because I think you're one of the few tech writers to "get" the company. However, I have another theory on this matter. I've become convinced that the white backgrounds in Messages, Music, and other native apps are a place marker instead of an actual design choice. Why? Because Apple is probably working to make them all transparent. Yes, transparent. Imagine your messages floating over your home screen wallpaper. It's not too hard to imagine, because Apple has already done this in one of their apps: Newsstand. In Beta 2, the Newsstand app was completely transparent and it looked amazing. It made the app look like a layer instead of a new window. In Beta 3, they replaced it with a much more blurred background for some reason...but I still believe Apple will turn all of their white apps transparent before the final release. Your wallpaper will have an enormous impact on the look/feel of the operating system in iOS 7.

Newsstand is a folder, not an app, and I think in B2 that's what Apple was trying to represent.

That said, they're already running blur shaders all the time, so they could probably insert the wallpaper behind apps and enhance the "depth" aspect they're going for in iOS 7, and it might not look half bad in some apps. In apps where there's content, however, that's supposed to sit in the background blur layer already.

Interesting idea though!

I hope Tweetbot will get on board. It's looking a little...bubbly. It's been using it's paradigm for too long. It's a great app, but it needs a little cleaning up.

I agree, but the thing that worries me about this is that I have always preferred the white, clean layouts and the white iPhone. It was nice to be in a minority and I got to make fun of the guys with the all-black phones. Now it will be so popular, that *everyone* will have a white phone. :(

I completely agree with Rene Ritchie on this. What WP8 and Android don't understand is that darker themes, black voids and grayish colors give a feeling of suppression. they could be stylish, cool, maybe sexy for some people, but they lack the openness, the "air", spaciousness and the warmth of a brighter, whiter interface. And only Apple gets it. iOS 6 looks pretty gloomy in certain places though. The Notification center, the alarm clock as well.

I am sad to see the white version of WP8 so underdeveloped. And Android is doomed to have this dark geek-y tech-ier theme that doesn't work in the long term.

Can't wait for this fall to get the new iPhone.

I guess WP8 got its white theme retroactively from iOS 7, because that is clearly an Apple innovation.

Before people start calling me a troll, please know that I've own an iPhone since basically day one, 2007, and while I sold my iPhone 5 recently for monetary reasons, I still own an iPad 3, but I'm not blinded enough by Apple to go as far as to call iOS 7 having white on its background "the future".

I can't wait for all these apps to be updated with a more iOS 7 look so I can watch the badge on the App Store count up as I sit on iOS 6 refusing to update! ...wait a minute...

Well. I must admit I've always preferred "White on Black" interfaces that are mostly dark. I find them easier on the eyes (and logically, they should be, as the Retina (no pun intended) will be less "bothered" by photons). Besides, they look more "tech"-like and I like tech. I also try to mostly create dark themes while using computers, but it's difficult getting a consistent look because most applications are full of hardcoded "I-assume-that-the-user-has-a-bright-theme" stuff.

What I don't understand about Apple for the life of me is why the hell they don't offer one DARK and one BRIGHT theme, and set them as defaults according to the hardware version (WHITE iPhone = BRIGHT theme, BLACK iPhone = DARK theme). It would make so much sense.

And the boot screen. Why the hell doesn't it have a black Apple on a White background on white devices? (Or does it?)