Apple has always been a design-concious company, but today at the keynote address of WWDC 2013, things were brought to a whole new level.
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Design at WWDC 2013

iOS7Every once in awhile I turn out to be right. My admittedly kinda squishy prediction regarding the software redesigns that we would be seeing today, largely came true. Gradients, textures, and drop shadows have not been removed entirely, but muted. Made sleek much like the hardware the software runs on. Character and whimsy has not been stripped from the software as many had feared, but instead, refined.

iOS7-iPhone

To my eyes, the new icons and elements look sugary, not unlike a cake made with fondant. Beautiful, but certainly different from the icons that we came to know over the last six years of iOS usage. All of this was expected, largely, but we really didn’t know how it was going to be implemented.

I very much like the redesign. It is to my taste- crisp, clean, dare I say timeless? I think this look will age better than the previous look that was instated under the Jobs/Forstall rule.

I did notice something interesting though. It seems that iPhone branch of iOS’ redesign is pretty well fully baked. What they showed today looks done, or at least close to shippable in regards to the new look (perhaps not in feature completeness). The new version of OS X on the other hand, looks like work is still under way. Notice too though, that most of this redesign work was shown on the iPhone, even though the iPad is now has the bigger of the two iOS-driven devices. I would wager that the work isn’t yet done on the iPad.

OS X-Mavericks

Apple’s desktop OS is still introduced first, even though it is now the company’s secondary OS. ┬áIt seemed like an odd medley of styles today. The new name, OS X Mavericks (drawing inspiration from California,) is in my humble opinion, bad. Sure, the big cat names were pretty well exhausted, but “Mavericks” would not have been my first pick as a replacement. Small potatoes in comparison though.

Mavericks-features

Notice how the new apps, such as Maps and iBooks have the same sugary soft colors. Compare that, with the icons next to it in the dock- the same old Safari, and Calendar icons. It’s a contrast, and I think, as it stands today, makes for a weird class of styles. Perhaps that’s merely because we’re used to the old, and focusing on the new. Perhaps there is a real clash of tastes. If I had to guess, we’ll see more new features, and more of a visual overhaul when OS X 10.9 Mavericks is rolled out for sale later this fall. We’re merely watching the old style being digested.

iOS7-mobile

Another freeze-frame of the transition can be seen at Apple’s homepage It’s choking on both design styles. The top menu bar still has the bold shiny buttons, yet bellow the image of the iOS 7 introduction, Helvetica Neue UltraLight is directing the user’s attention. My point- you can tell where Apple’s priorities were. The iPhone version of iOS got the most design attention between Forstall’s ouster last fall and today’s introduction. I think this is mostly due to the stiff competition in the mobile phone space. The desktop took a backseat and hasn’t had the complete redesign treatment yet. This also explains the delayed hardware redesigns we saw today.

Mac-Pro

The Mac Pro undoubtedly sells the fewest units, and the Mac line in general has taken a back seat to the company’s mobile devices. So, when the product is last in line, it takes years (that case style was with us for about a decade) before it sees an overhaul, but boy has it ever seen an overhaul. The new Mac Pro looks amazing, while offering what I consider some space age technology inside. The new Airport Extreme and Airport Time Capsules left me scratching my head a bit though. I understand their logic- smaller desktop footprint. But at the cost of standing six inches in the air? Wouldn’t have been my decision.

Airport-Extreme-Airport-TimeCapsule

I think some of us expected the Forstall to Ive transition to be complete by today’s unveiling. I suppose I did somewhere in the back of my mind. But realistically, it was a lot of moving parts for even Ive to wave his magic wand over. The company, given the short amount of time they had, prioritized and completely redesigned the iPhone version of iOS. Due to the lack of seeing a new iOS on iPad today, it’s a safe bet that work isn’t as far along on that device. And at least to me, the odd clashing of styles on OS X shows that the company hasn’t finished work their either. Perhaps this isn’t the case for OS X, perhaps this is as far as they are pushing it. If that is indeed the case, they’ve missed a hell of an opportunity to shake things up in the desktop space.

 

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  • I think it’s a good thing that they didn’t completely remove the Forstall design elements all at once. iOS 7 is already a big change, and some people I know don’t like it. Taking it slow is good.