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

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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

A plea for iOS 7 status bar sanity


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

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

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)

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

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.