Since its inception in 2006, not much has changed about iOS from the UI perspective.
But a couple of months back, Apple showed the world they could over-haul an old, boring and monotonous OS. But are cosmetic changes enough to call it “new”? Or does it also need to be ground-breakingly innovative along with being refreshingly new to call it that?
Decoy or genius?
I personally don’t like the new UI. Though it may “look” new, there are very little changes, functionality-wise. And I don’t count new pop-up animations as functions. For me, functionality, ease of use, simplicity are key to a great user experience. One of the reasons I love Windows Phone. Now I am not saying iOS is NOT user friendly. I am just saying Apple has simply not improved it or made it any better.
So what did actually push Apple to do, whatever they did with the OS?
The very first reason was the growing disconnect inside Apple between the two school of thoughts. Where one supported the Skeuomorphic feel and 3d designs, the other was vehemently against it.
The other big reason I can think of, was the growing discontent amongst its investors. If I remember correctly, Apple’s shares dwindled too, during this phase of transition.
So Apple pulled up its socks and decided to do the undecided.
Enter Sir Jonathan Ive. Dubbed by many as Steve Jobs’s protégé, Jonathan was given charge to do whatever he felt like with the UI of the OS. As the proverb goes, ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown’, this proved to be much more difficult than it sounds.
This is what I personally think should have happened behind the iron curtain. Most of the UI designs, icons, pop-ups and animations were already taken (read:patented) by Samsung, HTC and the likes, leaving very little space on the dance floor. And since, there was practically nothing else left, this is the best they could pull out of their hats.
A flat, simple and plain UI.
And to me, it is more of a decoy than a genius. A decoy, as there was either a lack of attempt, a drought of creativity, or simply arrogance on Apple’s end.
But what happens to the fake textures and leathery designs?
Skeuomohimism, exit stage left.
With iOS 7, Apple takes a bold step into the dark. The thick blobby icons, the fake stitching on the calendar, are all gone. But this isn’t my worry. My worry is what after this?
To be very frank, in spite of doing something “different”, there is barely any originality in these designs or UI elements. There are enough jokes and memes on the net to tell you how perhaps, the entire OS, save a few parts, looks like one OS or another.
So ok, for one instance I put aside all similarities to other operating systems and all the criticism. I appreciate the effort by Sir Jonathan Ive and his team(which I anyways do). But now, let’s quickly teleport to 3 years ahead of now.
Another presentation and another “new” OS? No thank you Apple. This new design is more like a short termed satisfaction than a long term strategy. And this is exactly what Apple isn’t understanding.
I agree there is market pressure. I understand that there is a Korean Plastic Giant eating into your profits. I know times are hard. But I also know one more thing. That YOU are Apple. Apple. A company where beautiful designs turned into innovative devices.
There was a time when Apple would show the world its innovations and left the audience awestruck, Apple fanboys or otherwise, with its sheer genius. There was a time when a man in Gandhi specs, black turtleneck and blue denims didn’t care what the world thought. He was blessed with a creative mind and a businessman’s brain.
But today sadly, everything has turned upside down. And Apple is taking a road of trial-and-error, of testing waters, of guessing what people may like. This to me is nothing but slowly walking into obscurity.
PS: I think this font doesn’t support smaller case ‘i’, hence a capital I in the title. My apologies.