Apple has come up with the much awaited iOS 7. But what are its implications for the designers? Sam Hampton-Smith tries to find out the hidden meaning for the designers from the official statements.

People have often criticized Apple for its callous approach to the UI it has adopted in its iOS all along. It has been the case when it comes to the apps that have been made for the users of iPhones. While some apps are almost ornamental in their designing, a vast majority of apps are at best functional with nothing endearing from the designing point of view in them. However, Apple sought to change all this criticism in a flash with the launch of iOS 7 at the yearly conference meant for its developers. There has been a lot of change in the design that is flatter and cleaner with a minimalist approach. There is a paradigm shift in the approach of the company that signals change in approach for the designers that work on the iOS. Let us see which of these changes in the design of the OS affect the developers and the designers and in what manner.

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We have made an analysis of the official guide provided by Apple and made a list of the top 10 things about iOS7 that are relevant for the designers.

Translucent Elements for Navigation

All the bars have been made transparent in the new iOS that is perhaps the single most important change that matters for the designers. You can see that it is not just the status bar but also the tab and tool bars that have become translucent. The tools for navigation have gone transparent too. What this means for app designers is that their content should now be seen through these transparent UI elements.

The control centre is totally new and you need to be aware of all the functions of this control centre such as how to reduce brightness of the screen and switching off the Bluetooth.

Borderless Buttons

If you are designing an app for the iPhone, you have to keep in mind the fact that the design of buttons has changes and they are now without borders.  There are no backgrounds also. This means that the controls for you app should be accordingly designed. You can see that the buttons have been removed as is the case with the messages apps where you find the button for send message been melted into a tiny label made of text.

Type Looks Dramatic and Lively

The typeface used in the new operating system is minimalist in nature and sleek and more legible than before. It is actually sans serif and one can read it clearly irrespective of the size of the font. It is very lean, crisp, and clear and allows the user to specify the characteristics for headline, content and even the buttons. One can see all these features in the all new weather app that even has background sounds matching the weather to make the app more lively than before.

Higher Percentage of Screen Space Now Available

As an app developer, you now have more of screen as your playground. Your designs can now be bigger and bolder what with translucent status bar and more space available with borders giving way. In fact, even Apple is now asking developers to use much more of the screen when designing apps.

With the keyboard going transparent, the content of an app can now be seen across the screen. This means the meaning of the content that is visible can now be easily sent across. You only have to see the apps for weather, camera etc to vouch this fact.

Depth is Being Used to Convey Hierarchy

It is clear through the instructional guide made available by the company that it is desirous of app designers following its lead in using depth to let users feel and imagine hierarchy.  The most stunning effect on the screen of the phone takes place through accelerometer when the owner moves the gadget sideways or in a vertical plane. This 3D effect is enough for the designers to understand that Apple wants them to make use of motion to create hierarchy and communicate the same to the users of the phone. This is something that wasn’t the case until now and better it is for the designers to think along this line to create apps that are ideally suited to the new iOS.

Make Use of Lots of White Space on the Screen

With the redesigning of iOS 7, Apple has shown that it wants no nonsense and clean approach from the app designers so as to de-clutter the screen for the phone owners. Now, the things that are on the priority list of Apple are ease of use and clarity. This is being sought by making use of breathing space on the home screen. It also becomes clear when one goes through the official instruction guide issued by the company. The way to achieve it, according to Apple, is not to cram the available space with all the information as if bombarding the owner but by giving a chance to the owner to understand with the help of a breathing space. Silence is better than words they say, and white space can be used to this effect by keeping text short and crisp.

Design Principles Explained by the Company Itself

Just remain in touch with the basic design themes of the company and you are safe. These are deference, clarity, and depth. Deference implies helping the users to understand the content through UI. Clarity implies that the typeface is clean and elegant to make the text legible at all sizes. Thus the designer should rather emphasize on functionality of the app. Parallax effect as seen when the use makes motion with the phone is an example of how designers can make use of depth to create new innovative apps.

Apple is desirous of the developers paying attention to these guiding themes when designing programs and apps for the new iOS. The company wants the design of the apps to support the content rather than dominating it. One can take a look at the Calendar app which has been improved by the company by getting rid of elements that were unnecessary making it much more impressive and elegant.

Redesign the Apps from the Start

There may be designers thinking that their old apps can get away with small tweaks here and there but they are wrong. Apple not just suggests but wants designers to revamp older apps meant for iOS6 to make them more meaningful and effective for the new iOS 7. This is not possible with mere tweaks as the designer has to get to the core of the app and match its functionality with the new operating system. This requires the designer to take help of the three guiding themes of deference, depth, and clarity and redesign the app. This is like major haul or repair of one’s’ home rather than mere renovation.

Moving Away from Skeumorphic Designing

In line with the theme of deference that has been introduced by Apple in the new iOS, designers are being suggested, rather recommended to stay away from skeumorphism while designing programs. This means moving away from indicators in physical form, a trend that can be seen across most of the apps such as Gamer Centre, Calendar, Podcasts, etc.

Say ‘NO’ to Splash Screens

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Welcome screens to guide users to apps are out with the new iOS. According to Apple, these splash screens are nothing more than self appreciating tools for the designers and do not help or make the UI any more interesting than it is without them. The basic objective behind this doing away with splash screens is to bring content and functionality in front of the users as quickly as possible. As a proof of its displeasure with this practice, Apple has done away with the welcome screen that was earlier present in the calculator app.