As a designer I find the subject of the iOS redesign fascinating. Much has been said about it. Some believe it will be devoid of character and sterile, while others, myself included, believe a new sleek look, still replete with playfulness is just around the corner.
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More on the ‘Flat Design’ Rumors


Since the first wave of articles regarding a rumored shift to a new, “flat” design in iOS a few weeks ago, there has been much reporting and speculation. Just last night Apple CEO Tim Cook commented on the revamping of iOS and OS X during his interview at the All Things Digital conference.

Late last year, long-time iOS chief Scott Forstall was ousted from the company. Many had reported or suggested that Forstall was a hard personality to work with. Cook even noted that the shakeup has been “great”– not a good thing to say when you’ve gotten rid of someone.

Forstall was kicked out under the guise of increased cooperation amongst the different teams at Apple, and this very well may be true. At any rate, Jony Ive, Apple’s hardware design lead stepped in to a design role of the software as well.

In regards to design, Cook stated that for the post-PC to be a success at Apple, hardware, services, and software must be completely blurred. Ive had influenced the look and feel of Apple products for years, and he is capable of doing the same for the company’s software. Cook also confirmed that Apple will be talking about new iOS and OS X features at WWDC on June 10.

So, with the confirmation that Ive is at the software design helm, lets take a look at a report from 9to5Mac cropped up a few days ago. This report claimed that the new design language will have a greater emphasis on black and white design elements, while also being color coded. That is, apps will be based on white, and have a colored theme for it’s controls. Ive’s influence on the operating system is reportedly wide and touches all aspects.

Some fishier details, such as panoramic home screens (similar to what is seen on Android devices), subtle animations in the Weather app, and FaceTime being moved to the home screen were also noted. My question, as a design nerd, why would you add the glitz of a panoramic home screen, when you’ve spent all of the time removing the heavy textures and shine?

Boiling all of this down to basic factoids, I would have to say that I can’t disagree. As I noted in my last piece regarding this topic, textures can be removed while retaining playfulness, which is a hallmark of Apple’s products. After all, Ive is the man behind the candy-colored iMacs we all used during the Clinton administration. To my mind, white is clean and allows for many possibilities, and does not necessarily mean it is boring or sterile. It will better match their hardware, whether you find that appealing or not.

In short, expect more white, expect a cleaner look, but also expect pops of color and whimsy to remain.


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