iPhone Life magazine

iOS 7 Described as 'Black, White, and Flat All Over'

Apple is expected to announce iOS 7 at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, beginning June 10. And in a remarkable preview of the new software, given that Apple is notoriously secretive, 9To5Mac has posted details about this forthcoming operating system for the iPhone and iPad. 9To5Mac's sources characterizes iOS 7 as "black, white, and flat all over." I'm not sure I like the sound of that, but the report says that "flatness" means Apple will drop textured design elements, and the "black and white" refers to the color of several new interface elements. It's hard to imagine. But it comes from Apple's legendary Jony Ive, so no doubt it will look good. The report warns that the design keeps changing, so it's hard to know exactly what will appear at the developers conference.

The article also gives some interesting background about Ive's philosophy, and why he's changing the look. He feels the physical metaphors used in "skeuomorphic design," such as a tablet for Notes and a leather-bordered desktop calendar for the Calendar app, don't stand the test of time. Plus, he says skeuomorphic design results in too much variation among Apple's built-in apps, confusing users. According to 9To5Mac, Ive has "made his mark on every corner of the operating system." For example, he will replace the linen and leather textures with white and black colors.

The changes start with the lock screen. I've always liked the large, transparent digital clock on the lock screen that lets me quickly check the time. 9To5Mac says the shiny transparent design will be replaced by a shine-free, black interface. Also, black buttons with white text will replace the square pin code grid. Similarly, a solid grey/black color will take the place of the linen texture in the background in the dropdown Notifications.

The article notes that Apple also is experimenting with new panels and widgets that give quick access to information or to system toggles, such as Airplane Mode. That would be really convenient. I use Airplane Mode a lot, and it will be great if it's more readily available instead of having to go to Preferences.

9To5Mac says the home screen will be mostly the same, but the icons will lose some of the shine and shadows. The icons for Camera, Photos, and Game Center will use flatter textures, and navigation and tab bars will no longer have gradient textures. 

In addition, the look of the apps has changed. You can read the article for more detail. For example, the Notes app will no longer be a yellow tablet but will be white. 9To5Mac says the Calendar app, for example, will appear similar to the concept design posted on Dribbble (the image for which accompanies this post).

Finally, there will likely be some new features in iOS 7, such as integration of Flickr and Vimeo, and improved support when using Maps and Siri in your car.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.