While we all pay close attention to rumors regarding the next iPhone and iPad, perhaps of even greater interest for most iDevice users is news of the forthcoming iOS 7 interface. Apple will introduce the new version of the software in June at its Worldwide Developer Conference, and will likely be available for download soon after that.
According to a fascinating and detailed report by 9To5Mac, the new interface will be radically different and comes courtesy of award-winning Apple Designer Jony Ive. Ive is a legend for designing all of Apple's popular products: the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and more. Having long been the talent behind the hardware side of iOS devices, he has now taken over software design following the ouster of Scott Forstall. And his approach couldn't be more different. Forstall, like founder Steve Jobs himself, favored heavy textures and skeuomorphic design, in which, for example, the Notes app looks like a real-word writing pad. Ive, on the other hand, eschews a skeuomorphic design and instead favors a much cleaner, flatter appearance based on simplicity rather than metaphor.
According to 9To5Mac, one source familiar with the new interface said it is much closer in appearance to the "flatness" of Microsoft's Windows Phone design, shown in the accompanying image. This trend became apparent when Apple released its new Podcasts app in March. The former app had the appearance of a tape deck, a music playback technology most young people today have never even seen. That disappeared in the new version.
9To5Mac says the changes in iOS 7 include all new icons for Apple’s native apps, as well as redesigned tool bars, tab bars, and most other interface features. That sounds pretty dramatic, and I'm sure it'll take time to get used to. But the report says the basic way the interface functions is unchanged.
Apple CEO Tim Cook very much supports these design changes. 9To5Mac quotes an interview from earlier this year, in which Cook said:
"Jony, who I think has the best taste of anyone in the world and the best design skills, now has responsibility for the human interface. I mean, look at our products. (Cook reaches for his iPhone.) The face of this is the software, right? And the face of this iPad is the software. So it’s saying, Jony has done a remarkable job leading our hardware design, so let’s also have Jony responsible for the software and the look and feel of the software, not the underlying architecture and so forth, but the look and feel."