iOS 7 is the most skeuomorphic, most liberating version ever

iOS 7 is turbulence. It's change. That scares some people, and makes others hungry. It divides sentiment and reaction, and creates as much fear and noise as it does thoughtful analysis and future thinking. That iOS 7 in its current form had to be realized in under 8 months, that it involved designers at Apple outside the usual human interactive team, and that the beta came in so hot the iPad version wasn't even ready, adds to the turbulence, and to the uneasy feeling that we're still in the midst of change rather than comfortably through it.

Beta 1 has only just been released, and we'll be digging into everything that's been publicly shown off about iOS 7 very soon, but I wanted to share some thoughts to two specific things right now:

iOS 7 is alive. It moves and "breathes" through dimensional layers.

First, this is the most skeumorphic version of iOS that's ever shipped. Jony Ive and teams might have removed almost -- though not entirely -- all of the textures like stitched leather and green felt, but they amped up the physicality considerably. iOS 7 is alive. It moves and "breathes" through dimensional layers. It turns and folds and bounces and does all sorts of other delightful, skeuomorphic things. Safari tabs are a rolodex you can flip through. Multitasking has cards you can throw away. Notification Center is a surface you can slam down and watch ricochet.

Just like the original iOS used OpenGL and other game-like technologies to make the smoothest animations ever seen on a mobile interface -- and back Apple up into a mobile gaming empire -- iOS 7 includes physics and effects that take the gamification of user experience to a completely new level. It's a virtual collection of objects that can be directly manipulated -- played with and discovered -- by a person's finger, by acceleration and rotation, or by other elements of the system. It's what Apple calls "depth. It's brilliant -- if unfinished -- and very much the beginnings of that "something next".

Second, the iOS 7 design language is liberating. Apple calls it "deference" and intends it to get out the way. That lets content shine, but it also lets designers shine. Previous versions of iOS layered bars -- status and menu and tab and more -- onto designs. It constrained and covered. iOS 7 lifts that off. It pulls away and overlays.

Initially, like with any new design language, we'll get a lot of apps that try to look like Apple's -- the UIKit or Metro or built-for-BB10 apps. That'll quickly give way to designers who take all the space and frameworks and run with them, and make things, beautiful and hideous things, that are new and exciting and not like anything we've seen before.

iOS is now an object inside and out, one that exists to drive focus to the content, media or app or both, but still and always delight to the user.

Again, iOS 7 has only just gone into its first very early beta. There's a lot that can still be fixed and polished and hopefully will. The new grid is great, but things like the Safari icon fill up too much of it (imagine an Apple t-shirt with a logo on it 3-feet wide). As much as they've nailed the depth and deference, they need to follow through on the clarity. It needs a couple more rounds of interactive polish. That, however, like a thousand other details can and hopefully will be brushed in during the beta process. Still, the broad strokes are there.

iOS is now an object inside and out, one that exists to drive focus to the content, media or app, or both, but still and always delight to the user. It's just taken it all to a much more visceral level.

It's scary, but it's the future.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Best story/article/post title EVER in the history (well, maybe not COMPLETE history) of iMore. Rene, for the win.
  • Very well stated. I couldn't have agreed with you anymore.
  • I just tested iOS 7 for two hours tonight. I don't like the parallax feature, it's very gimmicky, and even a bit disorientating. It makes for great demo, but it really isn't something I would have thought Ive would dream of doing. It feels so superfluous. Unpleasant, even. The second thing I don't like are those dynamic wallpapers. A total gimmick, again. They feel like something on Android. And lastly, those extremely light fonts are too hard on the eyes on my iPhone 5's retina display. The date on the calendar icon, the time on the lock screen; depending upon the shade of your wallpaper, and the thin fonts in Message bubbles: all hard too read.
  • you can disable all this....
    And you can adjust text (size and bold)
  • One thing I dislike about 7 are the controls on the video player. They are completely translucent; the text/timeline etc is cut out with the video underneath visible through it. When there is a video playing the controls blend in as they do not stay a constant colour.
  • My sentiments exactly.
  • aww, diddums.
  • Ehhh? Rene, even though I think you're a very smart and (more importantly) intuitive guy and generally agree with all your posts ... I think I'm going to have to join the trolls that usually litter your comment section on this one and call you a "fanboy." This just comes across as uncritical gushing admiration (and you are using "skeuomorphic" incorrectly, no?)
  • I agree with you. Considering that they got rid of the green felt and leather and then added pastel colors and a real transistor radio on the iTunes radio icon, lol.. Umm, would really like to see a little bit more thought put into reviews of this kind after some proper use. I'd also be willing to bet my paycheck that some of the things most people are showing distaste for will be changed in the next beta versionof two. That's why the story started to leak that it was the marketing team that picked the colors and icons, haha. Man I regret not selling my stock at $700 (head in hands) ..
  • Fanboy destroys any ability to have a conversation. I'm commenting on 2 very specific things here. I'm not commenting on the entire OS or current state of the rendered design. If you disagree with anything specific, let me know.
  • I disagree that iOS7 is more skeuomorphic than iOS6. A couple of physics effects do not make it skeuomorphic, and certaingly not more than iOS6, which was completely skeuomorphic, so I think that was added to the title of the post just for effect. Skeuomorphisms in iOS 6 are not limited to some textures, it includes the compass, recorder, icons on the homescreen, the dock, animations, button behaviours etc. I also disagree that this is a new design language, since it heavily resembles what Microsoft has done with Windows 8 and Windows Phone. I'm not arguing that Microsoft's design is better tha Apple's, but both are peas from the same pod, and if we will argue that this is a new design language, credit must be given to Microsoft and the formerly-known-as-Metro team for creating it. Anyway, I'll not go as far as using the fan* word, but for someone so strict about quality and design, you have been exceptionaly forgiving about what was presented at the keynote. 8 months is not enough to produce quality icons along the "new" design language? Since last week at least a dozen better designs have been presented by fans, so I think that theory, specially applied to the Apple we know, does not hold up. It was sloppy work at best, incompetent at worst, and frankly, it has no place in a WWDC keynote.
  • You're entitled to your opinion of course, but this looks nothing like windows phone. It still looks very much like an apple iPhone.
  • The home screen looks like a badly designed Symbian theme, but I was talking about the rest, not the home screen, and the rest does look like Windows Phone 7-8. There's even a post on WPCentral about it.
  • Ouch! Granted, though, those comparisons were cherry picked. A lot of iOS 7 looks nothing like Windows Phone.
  • Sure, I don't think it s a copy, I just think both have the same "design language" as people like to call it, down to the plain whites and round buttons.
  • "Design language" is a lot deeper than 'look.'
  • Of course, but all this is quite shallow since if you look too deep you will find all mobile devices have the same basic design language, so let's not get too pretentious just because its Apple doing it. Its basic affordances, information hierarchies, icons, menus, typefaces and everybody is doing variations over the same theme since this design language was created in the 70's at the PARC labs. No one has done anything new since then, and the day someone does, the device will be unuseable.
  • I have to jump in. I think iOS7 looks like an ugly kid from Android and Palm. Granted I see some Windows influence, but the majority looks like Jellybean (fonts, styles) with WebOS functionality. When I first saw it, I thought, wow, Jellybean minus a ton of cool features.
  • The control centre and the multitasking cards are obviously influenced from Android and the Palm Pre. But their implementation here is more thoughtfully considered. Translucency to indicate content is over where you were I fail to see any windows influence. Metro is horrible. White on yellow? Indistinguishable application icons? No thank you. The translucency in Aero is non-functional. Apple has notably had translucency on drop down menus for many iterations of OS X. Here it is functional because you can read content on the layer underneath. The Helvetica Neue Ultra Light is a response to all iOS 7 devices (with the possible exception of iPad Mini) now being retina than a response to anything Android is doing. Of course android isn't bogged down with all that inconvenient stuff like extending the olive branch of update support to the consumers who bought last year's models. Don't get me wrong. I'm no fanboy. I remain critical of many of Apple's practices - particularly the way they withhold powerful GPU options from the less expensive laptop models. Or when they shoehorn in obsolescence to guarantee users upgrade commit to an upgrade cycle. But they definitely deserve credit where it's due. I use my iPad far more than a computer these days because iOS is simply a phenomenal user experience. I love that I don't have to waste my time maintaining the device, managing incompatibilities, hierarchical file systems and tweaking things just to get them to work. All the things that typified EVERY device before it. Ease of use, and a curated App Store which forces developers to jump though hoops, are the foundations of the iOS user experience. Before we even get to talk about the benefits of interface design A or interface design B we need to assess the foundation upon which each is built. Frankly Android got so caught up in the panic of having to shift their sights from RIM to emerging threat of the Apple behemoth it has neither the resources or opportunity to lay the proper foundations of an ecosystem. You think Apple lucked out with 95% of users running the latest operating system? Android's fragmentation is the direct result of poor roadmapping. iPhone is not playing "catch up". Call us when Android takes the initiative for managing rogue software, instead of palming device security responsibility onto users and cultivating a multitude of unsecured application sources under the pretence of "openness". Or when it has mechanisms to leverage developers to respect battery life, access and use of personal information. Or when it supports the library of iOS applications that iOS users have already invested in. Or when they have a business model that isn't reliant on commoditising user data. Or when they develop an ecosystem of different categories of products that work seamlessly together. Consider: it took Android until Jellybean to get the responsiveness of the interface on parity with iOS v1.0 circa 2007. In the same time Apple went from 0% of industry profits to 70% of industry profits. In what many considered a matured market.
  • Absolutely, I must agree! And I'm not troll :) I like iOS, because his unprecedented easy to use behavior. Especially Android UI is really chaotic...
  • To be fair, even those examples are fairly weak, I mean the photos app, come on, it's a grid of thumbnails of your pictures.
  • Parts of it look almost exactly like windows phone in that it copies the design language used from the font, to the round buttons to the lines and flatness. The phone dialer looks more like Windows phone than parts of windows phone for example. While *overall* it doesn't look or act like Windows phone, parts of it are carbon copies.
  • Tell me about it, fanboy. Watch and learn:
  • EXACTLY! I must agree! This is the way to the UX hell. New Concept has some interesting points, but as a whole It seems little bit like school design work :-( Ive simply don't understand most stronger side of current iOS... My job is about UX... and "skeuomorphism" is at first about intuitive and pleasant use. You can simply scroll this thread at top and you can read this:
    Irelandjnr says: Jun 13, 2013 at 8:42 pm - 1 week ago
    I just tested iOS 7 for two hours tonight. I don't like the parallax feature, it's very gimmicky, and even a bit disorientating. It makes for great demo, but it really isn't something I would have thought Ive would dream of doing. It feels so superfluous. Unpleasant, even.
    The second thing I don't like are those dynamic wallpapers. A total gimmick, again. They feel like something on Android.
  • Fanboys are the worse. I looked at a few articles about iOS 7 on different sites and they are insulting iOS. I tried commenting on them and I can't even praise iOS 7 without an insult. They need to grow up and just respect their OS and not disrespect others.
  • Agreed... Rene does put very concise and well thought out reviews together. But, every once in a while the fanboy shines through. Ios7 would only be the most skeuomorphic design ever if they were looking to mimic a shower stall door with their translucent layers. Further, Rene, you did title the article "iOS 7 is the most skeuomorphic, most liberating version ever" ... Leading on that you consider the entire iOS build to be the most skeuomorphic over all predecessors, and not just two examples that you are claiming. "Oooooh, you didn't get AppleCare?!?!"
  • Welcome Gazoobee, to the ranks of the "Trolls". And by "Trolls," I mean the objective thinkers who can rightly call out the "uncritical gushing admiration" that Rene and Co. fill this site with. On the Interwebs as a whole, trolls are those who antagonize, pot-stir, or intentionally inflame. On iMore, trolls are simply those who dare to question the Apple party line or anything Rene says. I honestly felt embarrassed for the poor chap this time, reading this iOS7 "article". He just can't help himself. By the way, iOS7 is the beginning of the end for Apple, in terms of its power and market dominance. Granted, it's going to take a while for Cupertino to cease being relevant, and they'll continue to make some big money in the meantime, but make no mistake: they're now on the downward trajectory. Once Apple has come down to earth alongside everybody else, and is viewed as just one of many perfectly good tech options and no greater, the release of iOS7 will be pointed to as the sentinel event. It is the most derivative thing Apple has ever done--the clearest ripoff of its competitors that it has ever undertaken.
  • Actually I don't want to be on your side and I'm not a troll. I generally like Rene's "inspirational" pieces, I like his attitude and outlook and think he's a pretty incisive and intelligent person. So all those other articles that you *didn't* like, I did. Only in this one article do I think he has gone to far into "gushing" land without any real substance to back him up. Only in this one article do I find his intellect has failed him (he uses "skeumorphic" in a completely incorrect way here for example). Only in this one article do I think he is being too uncritical. I think I understand why, in that iOS 7 is the most exciting development in software for Apple in a long, long time. He's excited, I get that, and I agree with the sentiment. To me however, iOS 7 still has some awful flaws that are coming along for the ride and I'd like to see them pointed out more often instead of this sort of blatant "rah-rah-ism".
  • So let's see: "My side" as you call it is simply a position of being objective and willing to point out both the merits and the flaws of Apple, and being willing to appreciate and celebrate great tech, regardless of who makes it. This is unacceptable because........?
  • It's unacceptable because you're wrong. As I see it, "your side" is far from the objective, logical thing you believe it to be. I think you are making the same mistake "news outlets" usually make in that you believe there is a pro and con to everything and two sides to every story etc. This is a false assumption that leads to giving as much time to an idea as it's opposing idea. Sometimes things aren't like that, sometimes things are all good or all bad, and to engage in this false propping up of dual arguments and giving equal time to "both sides" is counterproductive at best. To bring it back to the article and this site, Rene is sometimes effusive in his praise of Apple. That doesn't mean that he is wrong for not including more pessimistic and opposed points of view. An article, (especially an editorial for cripes sake) doesn't have to give equal time to every point of view to be logical, or accurate. In this case, on this particular article, I think he is wrong, but most of the time, he is spot on regardless of whether you believe he has given appropriate amounts of time and space to opposing points of view.
  • Wow. Just.....WOW. I don't even know how to respond to this. "Giving equal time to both sides is counterproductive at best." Right........
  • I SO agree with your sentiments here, and felt this way about Apple since day one of iOS7. iOS7 is indeed THE most DERIVATIVE thing Apple has ever done, despite complaining about (and SUING) other companies they claim copy them. And I see the downward trajectory Apple is on. I don't know if its a coincidence, but it started around the time of Steve Jobs passing. All I know is if iOS7 does not change, I will never go beyond iOS6 on my iPhone.
  • No he isn't misusing the term, skeumorphism aplies to animations to, an example is the one he gave with Notification Center, bitmaps don't need to bounce when you slam them to another surface, the animation is skeumorphic in that it adds a real representation of an object's appearance or behaviour to a virtual one, and i agree with Rene please elaborate in the points you disagree.
  • iOS7 is the result of what happens when Jonathan Ive stops stealing all of his ideas from Dieter Rams and starts stealing them from the design team at Microsoft (with some additional thieving from HTC et al.). Yes, its an iRevolution it is.
  • I really love the title of this article"........So please shut up." LOL!!!
  • The webOS like multitasking is something I'm looking forward to as well as the control center.
  • All this article really shows is nothing but fluff just like the video.. ios 7 has no real substance, its just a render of mushed up Miui, Android, HTC Sense, Windows Phone, WebOS. I remember seeing this all before there was an iPhone on on HD2. its sad really
  • if you have to use 5 different OSes to describe one OS hoping to prove a point, I think you're doing it wrong
  • Android animations are nowhere near iOS7 quality and it doesn't use layers and transparency in nearly the same way
  • I'd suggest looking more carefully. Everything is a remix. Whether or not it's a good one is the question.
  • Except, of course, when a certain litigious company objects to being the remixed and not the remixer...
  • I've been running iOS7 beta since it was released, and everything you just said is garbage. It's called "beta 1" for a reason. But it's an improvement over the last version in pretty much every single way, big and small. But your post was a troll, not requiring a response.
  • Great write up. I'm excited to see what iOS 7 will look like when it finally leaves beta. I am concerned over the stuff that you and Ally have pointed out as missing (e.g, actionable notifications, But, as iOS continues to iterate, maybe. Took copy and paste how long??? Sent from the iMore App
  • It is so interesting to see people reacting so negatively. Does anyone remember last year when Apple was "stale, redunant, played-out, lackluster"? Apple KNOWS a large part of its audience still buy movies on VHS and need to catch the early-bird special at Luby's and they are in touch with their audience enough to know that change scares people. People don't want to LEARN something new. This has played such a large part in Apple becoming the Gold Standard in the mobile market. While everyone else was still discovering themselves, Apple said, "Here is our product, and this is what it will be." It worked brilliantly and retention numbers speak for themselves. Almost every early adopter I know still uses an iPhone and still acts like nothing could ever be better. I think the changes are great. Enough to bring a new look to the device, and yet, true enough to the spirit of iOS where the users will not be frightened away, or worse, angered. I think it looks great and am really looking forward to getting my hands on it. I am so excited for the change I thought about purchasing a developer account just to get the update!
  • ^This! Thank you.
  • I agree with you mostly, however I don't understand you when you claim iOS7 as the most skeuomorphic. iOS 6 is skeuomorphic. The leather textures are all gone and its now completely flat(in most places). But yes, it is definitely more "lively" as you say. Change isn't such a bad thing and we will accept this in the coming months, although I just expected a bit of more polish from apple... Even for a beta release. Great article anyway. Sent from the iMore App
  • Agreed. You've completely missed the meaning of skeuomorphic
    From Wikipedia:
    A skeuomorph is a physical ornament or design on an object made to resemble another material or technique. Examples include pottery embellished with imitation rivets reminiscent of similar pots made of metal,[1] or a software calendar that imitates the appearance of a paper desk calendar.[2] iOS 7 as done away with the physical artifacts of real-world parallels like the edges of pages in ibooks or the green felt table background in game centre. Adding cool effects to the interface like the parallax shift isn't skeuomorphic, its adding a polish that is not just imitating life, but going beyond what is possible with a 2D page in real life.
  • Eh, lots of good new features, too bad they are almost invisible, washed out by this amateurish, rainbow brite, hideous new look.
  • what "new" features? New for Apple, maybe...
  • There are quit a few, look them up..
  • Such as? Seriously, please name one that isn't found on other older devices already.
  • New to iOS, who cares if they are on other devices already? Do you only drive a car that was first at everything?
  • I'm gonna take that challenge: Per app VPN. Don't recall seeing that on BB, Android or WP. Airdrop. Bit of a stupid one because it is an iOS exclusive. But hey it counts no? I think there are countless more. Just as Android, BB and WP have exclusive features.
  • Hahaha, thank you for this. Someone had to do it and it was comical.
  • Per-app VPN has been possible on Android for a few years now using programs like Mocana MAP. As for Airdrop, it's simply Apple's take on Samsung's two year old Beam function, but using ad hoc Wi-Fi instead of NFC. You may want to read this, though: Like I said, please list something that hasn't been done before on other older devices...
  • Don't think I've heard of Activation lock on other devices. Did I win
  • Beam uses ad hoc Wifi (search: 48157. What is S Beam, and how do I use it?). The NFC is simply a means of verifying who you want to send files too rather than having to scan for other devices like you would with Bluetooth or Wifi-Direct.
    Apple have just added the "friends list", so if you have the person you want to send a file too as a friend, and they use a compatible device, then it's simple...
    So it's Beam, where you have to hunt from a list to find the device of a person who is likely standing in front of you, given the range an iPhone to iPhone wifi network is likely to be.
  • Rene,
    I thought the article was insightful, but you are using the term "Skeuomorphic" wrong. A Skeuomorph is a design or technique that imitates something that exists in another material or context, and is often used in user interface design to make users relate the design to the "real world" counterparts, like a virtual notepad that uses yellow lined "paper" textures. Simulating an abstract virtual 3d space with parallax, or representing an app as a rectangle that you swipe into nothingness to close is NOT skeuomorphism. Just because it seems like an object with "real" depth does not mean it is Skeuomorphic. It is not trying to represent an "object" that exists in any other context. iOS 7 is by far the least skeuomorphic design iteration of iOS. You can claim it is not totally "flat", that it has depth, that it feels alive with all the motion, etc, but you cannot claim that it is Skeuomorphic. It got rid of all fake textures and it even forgoes the bubbly, bevelled look of the buttons in the interface for borderless, minimalistic iconography.
    The reason excessive skeuomorphism is looked badly upon in UI design is because it is in many cases unnecessary to make people relate to the real world versions of the objects, and the design has to make bad compromises in usable space and beauty to accomodate the borders of a pocket address book, for example, or the faux leather borders of a fake calendar.
  • + 1
  • +2
  • "Initially, like with any new design language, we'll get a lot of apps that try to look like Apple's -- the UIKit or Metro or built-for-BB10 apps." I'm pretty sure you got that completely backwards... but, are you saying that A) other UI's will attempt (in the future) to look like this new language, or B) are you saying that this entire overhaul looks like a giant collage of every other mobile OS already in existence? If it's the first (A), then you definitely got it wrong -- very wrong. If it's the second (B), then you are absolutely correct, and I apologize...
  • I agree with what other posters here are writing. I don't think you have any idea what skeuomorphism is. The most skeuomorphic element is the iTunes radio icon.
  • I've been eagerly awaiting substantive commentary directly from Rene on iOS 7 since Monday. I appreciate this take on the new iOS, although I'm not a fan of Mr. Ive's software aesthetic. And Rene, I'm looking forward to a substantive iMore podcast on iOS 7. The bar scene podcast earlier this week wasn't it. I'm hopeful that you next podcast will bring the in depth, engaged commentary that's more typical of your work.
  • I think he's walking a fine line, he was in on the Dev side as well, and some of that I think is NDA? correct? Will be an interesting balancing act.
  • I'm confused by the 'so please shut up' part . . are we not allowed to express an opinion or preference? Guess I always had you pegged as classier than that (still do but I'm surprised).
  • Being both Android and IOS owner I think that the this is just what the iPhone needed. The quick flip up from the bottom for all the quick connections such as wifi, bluetooth etc. Just what it needed, the overall look of the apps I think look good, at first I wasn't too sure but the more I look at them the more I like them, was it worth a standing ovation from the crowd, I guess it shows just how desperate people were for a change. The Multi tasking is just what the doctor ordered. There are some great changes but wish there was allot more, third party keyboards were talked about, didn't happen, if anyone ever used SwiftKey swipe they would understand how great it is. I was also hoping on the ability to use a good file management system instead of being forced into using iTunes for everything. Every other day ITunes is screwing up on my two laptops. By the time IOS 7 is dropped I'm sure it will develop into a very polished upgrade. Being very new to IOS I can say I like what I seen and can not wait to get it. The more I use my iPhone 5 the less I'm using my Android, I guess that is only common sense but I'm using my iPhone 5 because I just like it.
  • With Steve and now Scott Forstall gone we may get some of those things. Probably ran out of time with this release. There was something different about this keynote. It was one of the best ones they've done in a long time. All the executives looked like they were enjoying themselves and that they get along really well. Forstall must have really been a negative energy within the upper ranks. I watched one of the developer videos talking about the new UI and the software guy doing the presentation just sounded so excited with what he was presenting. Makes me wonder how many software engineers and designers have been wanting to change things up.
  • Nice, Forstall now has gone from father of iOS and almost singlehandedly responsible for the division that brought greateness to Apple, to a "negative energy within the upper ranks". I can only imagine what will be said of Joni Ive if he gets fired over this.
  • Ive won't get fired over this. What he did to the Mac Pro (AKA, R2D2) and the lackluster Mac Pro sales that are forthcoming (I think), are another matter entirely....
  • Very interesting & well written article, Renee. And I appreciate your comment about being called a 'fanboy'. It does indeed stop any actual discussion. Are the signal 'bars' really going to be represented by dots going forward? I hadn't noticed that until now. I suppose there's no real reason it was increasingly tall bars.
  • Since radio propagation is nor linear, in fact the increasingly tall bars made more sense than linear dots. But we learned at the Antennagate that different companies use different algorythms to calculate which bars to fill, so it really comes down to aesthetics in the end.
  • As an avid reader of iMore and listener to MacBreak Weekly, I've been looking forward to this past Monday for a loooooooong time. I was incredibly psyched to see IOS 7 during the Keynote, and got a chance to play with it a bit the next day before it completely drained my 4s's battery and some bugs in the camera app (I couldn't take video for more than 2 minutes or so), I went back to 6.1.3 and will wait for fall... But what I experienced was best articulated by Rene in this article. I happen to love the icons, the animations, the whole user experience. The changes to IOS will, for this user, make the enjoyment and experience of my iPhone even better - and my iPhone is a natural extension of my hand at this point, so I was delighted to have an even better user experience with the small amount of time I used this very early beta. I truly believe what Leo LaPorte said about it being an equal measure of copying, catch up and innovation. And aren't all the platforms doing that to some degree at this point? I mean, seriously.... I'll deeply look forward to a deep discussion about this on the iMore podcast, as well. Rene, you do a great job and I always look to your opinions, input and expertise. Fall can't come soon enough for this self-admitted Fan Boy - a badge of honor proudly worn :-) Peace, Shawn
  • My problem with previous versions of iOS is the skeuomorphism that tried to look too life like. Smaller clip art like icons might also be considered skeuomorphic but they don't really get in the way or hinder functionality. Skeuomorphism in and of itself isn't always bad. The problem with iOS 6 and prior is some of the skeuomorphism was just plain ugly. Similar to how some feel some of the new app icons are ugly (doesn't help that their bigger).
  • Ok Rene, you want specifics, here goes:
    1. The following icons are terrible: photos, maps,game center, settings, and safari. Redesigning icons wasn't what iOS 7 needed to be more functional.
    2. The action buttons on Safari: they don't have to be so skinny. I mean do you really think the old controls got in your way of using Safari. Now I'll need bifocals to see them.
    3. Weather font is too small. Again, now I'll need to wear bifocals.
    4. The messages app. According to the pics we've seen, the bubbles and photos overlap each other. How is that clean design? Also, white letters on light blue background?
    If you have any pull with some Apple insiders, please pass on this great community's concerns. PS: you can't deny that a blue font on a white background doesn't scream Android. I can't believe Jony Ive would come up with that, IMHO.
  • I didn't comment on icon or glyph renderings. That'll be an entirely separate post. That's also something that can get fixed during beta. I commented on the physics engine and the content approach. It's like you people don't even read anymore :)
  • Perhaps it is high praise for your prose Rene that so many can read so much hidden meaning into anything you write.
  • In my view, I think thats because the 'skeumorphism' word was misused and it makes the article disjointed. What is your definition of skeumorphism? Maybe heading that will clear things up?
  • re: It's like you people don't even read anymore :) I think that's just kind of the writers curse in our modern times. I've noticed that too, and tend to have the same problem when I write. Do you think they can't actually process it and comprehend? Or, is this some kind of reader-responsive postmodernism thing going on? Sheesh.
  • I agree with many that iOS 7 is the reverse of skeuomorphic, but is definitely not flat. It is correctly described as layered and forming a hierarchy. That's not flat in my book. Even the icons aren't absolutely flat, just featuring less glossy artifacts and graduations. Indeed, I have been following the icon debate, and I guess one persons meal is ... etc. Personally I really like the GameCenter, photos, maps and even Safari icons. My jury is out on settings app, but I'm sure however it ends up I will get so used to it that I won't see it in detail any more when using it day-to-day. Moving past the icons there is some intelligent use of animations and some subtle but neat things going on that give the UI a very fresh feel. But what I most like about iOS 7 is that Apple kicked things up a notch and polarised the debate about design. Love it or not, many folks have a polarised opinion on it, and that's far from boring and uninteresting!
  • Its just a color. You can argue that iMore uses the blue and white also. Who cares about it?
  • Generally, I see really dumb posts throughout the web, 9 posts about a leaked iPad mini case, something about Apple thinking of making an iCup that allows you to download soda from iCloud or some other crap. But rarely do you see really thoughful, discussion-provoking posts from a lot of these Apple blogs. This is one of those posts. iOS 7 is hot Krispy Kreme donuts fresh, and I'm sure there are changes coming down the pipe. Good post, Rene. Another reason I read iMore a lot more than other sites.
  • Look how much better that looks with a black iPhone! I'm feeling better now. Sent from the iMore App
  • The only fixes I want to see besides bugs is the icons being redone. Some are okay but some are horrible like Safari. They will probably fix it like rumors say.
  • As a holder of the oldest iOS7 capable device (an iPhone4), has anyone succeeded to run iOS7beta on an iPhone4?
    After getting an iPad, which has become my 'main' home use computer, I don't really feel the need to upgrade my iPhone4; I mostly use it as a phone and the extra apps are just bonuses on the go.
    But I heard lots of moans when iOS6 came to iPhone3GS. Now I am worried that iOS7 may be a bit too much for the old iPhone4.
    I do know iOS7beta is just that, (a very early release beta) but would love to hear if the physics work on the iPhone4? Or if it all grinds? Update:
    I just found a video on youtube that shows iOS7 running on an iPhone4; I won't post link as it is from a rival site?
    It looks like there is no moving backgrounds, or the parallax home screen.
    Which I don't mind, as I thought that might tax the little processor.
    It looks buggy, but no more then I would expect from a beta.
    As long as it adds some new features, and doesn't lose any I will be happy.
  • Where did you get the photo of iOS7 on a black ATT phone with todays date? Don't tell me you broke the NDA by posting a photo of iOS7?
  • Nothing on that screen isn't available in the stock press shots on
  • hmm.. that's quite an interesting way of interpreting the nda. not very classy.
  • Indeed. The NDA is pretty black and white on that issue. No one has any respect for the rules or the law nowadays.
  • I'm starting a support group "Folks Who Are Addicted to the Word Skeuomorphic" and we'd like you to be our president! Seriously, you know you are. Now, granted, I'll give you props for throwing the word out there over and over for the past months...heck, I wouldn't ever have head of the word without you and it is a cool word. Not now I'm getting chicks cool. More like don't hate me because I'm a geek cool. Apple has radically moved away from it's heavy skeuomorphic design and now you are scared that if you can't somehow wedge it back into iOS 7, you won't be using that word much anymore. We are here for you. We are hugging you. But it's not a wrapping my arms around you skeuomorphic's just an orange dot. But let's face it, you know that dot means hug, right?
  • Its sad how no matter what, there will always be haters. If you don't like it! well no one is forcing you to have it, so just move a long and worry about something else, believe it or not, the world does not revolve around your ideals or opinions! and of course he's a fanboy (This is iMore) its a website devoted to apple! He wouldn't be writing here if he didn't enjoy Apple! its common sense!
  • "If you don't like it! well no one is forcing you to have it" Apple is, if you have an iPhone. Or did you not know that?
  • Visual appearance like a particular font or "3D" icons are not important to me. More important are new and improved features, usability (fewer and intuitive actions to accomplish tasks). OS7 is heavy on the former and light on the latter. Example: I am still shamed by my Android friends in not being able to share files via BT with other users.
  • You somehow forgot to mention that the icons were designed for 3 year-olds in love with My Little Pony. Is the new look, "Manly?" Girls, crayon-lovers and the gay-brigade will love it. Men will be ridiculed for being benders and will thus desert the iPhone for less-queer pastures.
  • You just went full-retard........NEVER go full-retard
  • I'm guessing the thing that has scared the "Man" in you off is the Pastel wallpaper they chose to introduce the iOS on. If you look around there are images of iOS 7's home screen on dark backgrounds and primary coloured backgrounds. Which I prefer. But thats just the home screens wallpaper, the whole UI is just a lot whiter with thinner fonts and without buttons/borders, which shouldn't rattle homophobes much.
  • Someone please ban this homophobic idiot.
  • iOS 6 -- in your face iOS 7 -- out of your way
  • Is that a joke? iOS7 is a hell of a lot more 'in your face' than any other operating system for the iPhone. You can not get away from its hideous effects, that look like it was designed by the Care Bears.
  • Here's another great opinion piece on iOS 7 which might help a few people understand the design aesthetics behind it…
  • Any time someone has to explain a design aesthetic to you its because it was bad to start with. Good and beautiful design is obvious and needs no explanation.
  • Though that is true, except for when that design Is brand new and replacing the former in so many subtle and not so subtle ways, and when; as this article and these comments show, people like to have it explained and offer there own explanations. Good and even simple design can still create a buzz, and Matt Gemmel does a good job of diving into the design choices.
  • iOS 7 is in beta right now. Anything can change and be made different before the final. It's different enough while being familiar enough to please people who didn't want too much change, while giving us more of what many of us have asked for. I'm excited about something that hasn't been discussed here yet. Activation Lock. I'm curious to know how that comes into play if you update your 4 or 4S, then sell it to get the 5S.
  • I'm not fond of the look of ios 7 but if it stops people from ever using the term skeumorphic i'll be thrilled
  • Why the hell does everyone keep saying that the new app switcher is a Web OS creation. Apple had this feature since the first Iphone in safari tab/page switcher. In fact they have never claimed to have any feature first.
  • The control center comes 100% directly from the jailbreak community. It looks nothing like androids pull down toggles. There are more options like air drop, airplay & music controls. Apple was pretty smart to keep notification center & control center separate, its a lot cleaner.
  • Hi Renie,
    My question to you, till iOS6 it has a good sense of familiarity, which make sit very easy to use for new and existing customers, which mac is maintaining it for almost an decade.
    Now things have changed, so is still iOS is the preferred choice of OS when it comes to ease of use compared to rest. Is still can you recommend iOS to your mom and dad, like it was before.
  • I think the changes to iOS 7 are fantastic and couldn't even have imagined the changes they have implemented. I agree with this article.
  • I agree only partially with you Rene. Unfortunately, I don't feel the positivity of the changes to a great extent. I love it, the dimensional layering, the new quick control center, and more... but somehow the design seems to have missed out on something. The change is good in most areas, but overall there's something lacking. I know I'm being vague, but honestly I can't seem to put my finger on it. Perhaps its the going flat but using dimensional layers to give a 3d effect nonetheless that troubles me? There's something off about it... It's a first Beta, so hopefully things will get a bit more polished up and more functionality revealed with time and I'll find it all the more useful/appealing... only time will tell!
  • Here's a question I have though, that many don't seem to be thinking about: Apple has spent years mired in litigation, suing anyone and everyone who they think may have borrowed, copied, or been inspired by Apple design or IP. They then immediately turn around and create IOS7, which blatantly pilfers all the other OSes people have already mentioned in this thread. Is Apple a.) totally cocky and unconcerned about lawsuits going in the other direction against them, b.) thinking everybody else is too intimidated by their legal juggernaut to sue them, c.) simply delusional and drunk on their own kool-aid, or d.) a combination of all these?
  • The one app I am very curious about is Garage Band. I use the app a great deal and it would appear to be the hardest to convert to the new format. I did not see any related icons in the preview so I can only guess that Apple will be taking their time converting it. Hopefully there will be some nice additions as well as any design changes!
  • I love Garage Band too, but it is arguably the most skeuomorphic app Apple has ever made. I cringe just to imagine this "new" design language being applied there.
  • Things like Garage band put the lie to the whole "skeuomorphism is bad" thing. GarageBand is entirely skeuomorphic from start to finish and it has to be that way to work. They may change the icon to some flat white square to match the rest but the app itself *has* to be skeuomorphic to work. GarageBand will be the test of how far down the "flat is good"dogma trail they are prepared to go, and how many of their own soldiers they are willing to shoot to get there. If GarageBand has it's skeuomorphism removed, then you will know it's a new Nazi regime and that even losing utility and function is better than the horrors of non-flatness.
  • Exactly.
  • A complete hallucination... Will you send me your dealers phone number??
  • youtube link of this video please?! Thanks in advance! :)
  • Wow, couldn't be further from the truth. iOS 7 is the LEAST skeuomorphic Apple interface EVER. There are no fake leathery designs or stitches, paper textures, icons and keyboard buttons with dimensional depth. Not a problem with me, but the sickly, bright colors and flat designs are.
  • CAN we PLEASE retire this buzzword "skeuomorphic"
    It is geeky, unintuitive, an annoying word, and serves little purpose other than to make tech bloggers feel like they know something...
  • And THAT, my friends, is why it is going to work.
  • I want more than school design exercise...
  • This ad is an ad that I dont think iwill use if and when I set up my own company. The ads used by google usually talk about marketing terms such as retina, and the processors name. But yes, you have to accept that the iPAD battery life in case of tablets is truly unparaleled. But the marketing is truly awful
  • Just to be clear, "Skeumorphic" and "Smurf" are not synonymous, though in this article, you would lead one to believe that since an object on the screen can be flicked, that means the object is behaving or "doing things in a skeumorphic way". Skeumorphism is _not about_ kinetics alone, just because something feels like "It moves and 'breathes' through dimensional layers. It turns and flips and folds and bounces...and does all sorts of other delightful...things (including multitasking with cards you can fling away)" doesn't make it skeumorphic. It just makes it a UI. Skeumorphism -- according to my reading of the definition and observing Apple's use of the concept in their products isn't about design kinetics -- at least at first it was about breaking a proscenium...inviting users to the UI by giving them a familiarity of objects they use every day -- for a musician, an amp looked like a Fender Amp, and had knobs on it which you "turn" to increase the level of gain, or reverb or whatever -- otherwise a whole lot of musicians would have never thought that the iphone or i[ad were really all that great for music writing, playing or some pre-production tasks. Skeumorphism's poster-child "green felt" is about entering a vegas-like "theater of gaming" in Game Center, it's calendar pages looking like calendar pages because nobody knew what else to do. Breaking out of Skeumorphism is at least one of the goals of iOS7, from what I understand. iOS 7 is *supposed* to be raising the bar -- saying "Ok, enough people have been introduced to these UI cues now... at this point we're introducing UI cues to people who've never even seen a real guitar amp -- and there are plenty of people who are now familiar with our products, we don't have to keep re-creating the "real world" in order for people to feel comfortable saying hello to our devicees any more." -- IMHO.
  • Hilarious. You are falling over yourself in praise for "skeumorphism" and you have no idea what it means. It means the exact opposite of what you think it means. The old iOS is skeumorphic. They worked hard in iOS7 to remove all traces of skeumorphism. You sound like you're raving about the quality of color in a black and white movie. Fanboyism to the tenth degree.
  • I agree 100%. When this piece first came out, I sort of rolled my eyes and let slide the baseless assertions (backed up by counterindicative evidence) that iOS 7 is somehow the most skeumorphic version yet. But Ritchie kept linking to this post in subsequent articles. Each time I would go re-read this to see where he actually backs up the claim that it is more skeumorphic than iOS 5 and iOS 6. He never did, except for some comments about physics and layers and saying it's not flat. By a month or so it was so obnoxious that I removed iMore from my RSS reader. It's important not to embarrass yourself my making hyperbolic claims about words and concepts that you clearly don't understand, if for no other reason than you don't click click-throughs when you kill your credibility.
  • Hands down best article written in 2013 on imore and other tech sites..Remarkable work
    Its Alive!!!!
  • You cock - are you serious?Nothing significant has changed in years. I call, I text, I browse... - STILL - just like I did in 2008. D"So they changed a few pictures / did you REALLY fall for that? The kid who writes code in my Garmin running app changes more every WEEK. Wake up you sycophantic ass.
  • "Oooh its SCARY! Its CHANGE! If you point out this iOS7 emperor has no clothes, its because you're scared of CHANGE!". OMG, I've never read a bigger load of bollocks. Change isn't of benefit BECAUSE its change. Only if its a BENEFICIAL change. iOS7 is anything BUT. First off, let's shoot down this nonsense about it being different. Its not. Its the same carp from 2007, with a new shade of lipstick and blush. Oh and a transparent blouse. They did absolutely NOTHING to fundamentally change the way iOS works. Just changed the blinds on the windows. "Oh look its even more skeumorphic!". Then you don't know what "skeumorphic" means. Even Ive admitted they quiched that design concept. "Oh look it breathes dimensional layers!". Guess what, you know nothing about functional design either. The stupid gimmicky parallax backgrounds is sending people into epileptic fits, and the ridiculous idea to use transparent backgrounds everywhere makes things LESS readable, LESS functional. It is a classic case of form BEFORE function. iOS7 is a designer's bad joke. So is this article.
  • Design iOS 7 it is a sad shit. Jony Ive - schizophrenic. As the goat which has climbed into the garden and destroyed everything, and this idiot Ive ownerless after the death of Steve Jobs, he's curved arms ditched the beautiful design and ease of use. He ditched the Notes, bookshelves in the iBooks, Dialer .He is a mudak, but not a designer