A plea for iOS 7 status bar sanity

A plea for iOS 7 status bar sanity

There's not a pixel on the screen that iOS 7 won't be changing come this fall, including the status and menu bars that have lived on top of iPhones and iPads for years. Dave Wiskus, designer of Vesper, has weighed in on that specific change, and what the repercussions might be. From Better Elevation:

iOS 7 unifies the status bar and navigation bar, with mixed results. There are no longer any lines or markings of any kind between the status bar (carrier, time, battery status), and an app’s navigation control buttons. This new area is a collection of unrelated items occupying a single space. A jumbled, confusing mess that will lead to third-party apps looking terrible and users wondering what the hell is going on.

What makes this so infuriating is that the status bar was a solved problem. The black bar at the top is hardware at best, and OS information at worst. Now Apple has taken an OS-level design problem and made it an app-level design problem.

Wiskus has filed an entry in Apple's bug reporter, radar. While things like iOS 7's new physics and particle engine have met with near universal delight, the paint on top of it has been far, far more divisive, especially among designers, and not without good reason. Part of an interface's job is to visually parse information for a user, to give it structure and in iOS 7 parlance, "clarity". Simplicity can help clarity, but taken to an extreme, becomes null, which is anything but clear. Hopefully, as Dave says, this new design language is evolving and what might have been overly torn down gets built back into balance.

Check out the rest of his post, and let me know what you think.

Source: Better Elevation

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 16 comments. Add yours.

Rene Ritchie says:

Speaking of Wiskus, check out this week's episode of his and Lex Friedman's podcast, Unprofessional, it's one of my favorites to date.

tail24 says:

I can see his problem. It especially bugs me in their own glitch in recent calls list, which puts the last person called under their own status bar so you can't see it unless you pull down the list but still can't tap on it. Apple I am sure is seeing how it affects their stuff and will help remedy the problem so ours will be easier to fix as well

Eddie Hines says:

it happens to me too as well as the issue with the messages doing the same thing! i hope beta 4 fixes it and is released today

cc3d says:

On a related note, two things that still need a major rework:

1) notification sounds during a phone call. I have a 4 second sound for reminders to help them go unnoticed. If that goes off during a phone call, the sound overtakes the phone call audio completely. Sometimes hitting a button to silence it kills the call!

2) drop down notifications that cover the status bar and top x pixels of whatever app you're in. This interferes in a number of ways and good solutions have been proposed (here I think)

jamie says:

I have wanted your 1) fixed for years! So annoying!

sting7k says:

I've been wondering about this for awhile myself. It looks strange with no separation on the status bar. I also find the dots as signal strength indicators equally strange.

Sent from the iMore App

Carioca32 says:

I don't think anyone has ever devised a good visual solution for the status bar. Everything we see today, including Apples solution, is a reminiscent of the early days of the cell phone. Everything else has evolved, but this bar remains the same.

Designers should start think outside the box to devise a better status bar, or even to consider if we need a status bar.

robby2 says:

Just give us an option to remove the darn thing entirely!

Plus, let us have the ability to customize what appears there-- e.g., to eliminate the display of time if we want. In fact, let us put a weather symbol there or just hide entirely for all apps.

Nathan Bael says:


Sent from the iMore App

Nathan Bael says:

I don't see how the status bar is a problem. I like knowing signal strength, if I'm on wifi or cellular, if device rotation is locked, etc., at a glance. I mean, it goes away when I open a game. Why can't it go away when I open a regular app?

Sent from the iMore App

CraigRussell says:

Windows Phone does a pretty good job at keeping it out of the way but accessible when wanted (swipe down).

cc3d says:

Apple will never do it, but there is plenty of unused space outside of the screen where under-glass LEDs could be used to give the same information.

SockRolid says:

Re: "This new area is a collection of unrelated items occupying a single space."

Always has been. Probably always will be.

Re: " A jumbled, confusing mess that will lead to third-party apps looking terrible and users wondering what the hell is going on."

It's not rocket science. You'll figure it out pretty quick, Dave.
Users will too. Aren't there more important things to nitpick about?

Polyphonie says:

OS X allows the option to turn on/off translucent menu bar. Personally, I hate the black bar- I can see the all info just fine without needing it to be too apparent.

Gazoobee says:

Nothing personal, but I find that neither this article nor the one linked to as a source actually explain what the problem is to the degree that I can comment. I get that the two bars have been blended, but why that is a problem, I don't understand.

ghostface147 says:

The status bar works fine for me but I am not a fan of the dots representing the signal strength.