Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Hands-on with iOS 7

iOS 7 iPhone[intro]iOS 7, which was announced at WWDC 2013, hit the developer portal not long ago, and we’ve all been busy installing it on our phones.[/intro]

Gone are the skeuomorphic interface elements that make icons look slightly bubbly, replaced by flat graphics that take on a more elegant look than earlier versions. When you move the phone or tablet, Apple promises a 3D effect that makes your wallpaper appear some distance behind the icons.

Circles enter the design language, along with visuals that look nearly transparent, like a pane of glass. See what we mean in the slideshow above. The most important part of any deep design work is that it feels smooth and connected from screen to screen.


The overall look is completely different across the board, from the apps we saw in the keynote to more-minor interface elements such as animated transitions when opening and closing apps. The important thing to note here is that even though it looks completely different, it’s still easy to pick up and use right away because the core functionality is largely the same. In other words, browsing in Safari is as easy as ever, but there are now extra tools on hand for sharing via AirDrop, and a smooth tab-browsing interface.

This is the first major redesign of the iOS since the iPhone’s first release in 2007, signaling a shift to a more modern look that still stays true to Apple’s sharp, clean, almost cutting aesthetic. We like the daring steps forward so far, but a contingent of die-hards will buck at the unfamiliar.

Apple adds visual and usability elements all its own, but also continues to borrow (as all the mobile platform-makers do) from some rivals in drips and drabs. We see this sprinkled throughout the OS in the quick-access settings, treatment of browser tabs, and adoption of some circular design elements.


As we said before, iOS 7 brings huge changes in the visual department, which is an important part of the way you relate with your tablet or phone. Yet the really substantial, game-changing new features are few and far between.

That said, Apple has a history of keeping its most pulse-quickening news for its next iPhone and iPad announcements. For that, we will have to wait until this fall.


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