Jony Ive preps ‘very, very flat,’ potentially unsettling UI for Apple’s new iOS 7

“According to multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed on the upcoming iOS 7, the operating system sports a redesigned user-interface that will be attractive to new iOS users, but potentially unsettling for those who are long-accustomed to the platform,” Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac.

“The new interface is said to be “very, very flat,” according to one source,” Gurman reports. “Another person said that the interface loses all signs of gloss, shine, and skeuomorphism seen across current and past versions of iOS. Another source framed the new OS as having a level of ‘flatness’ approaching recent releases of Microsoft’s Windows Phone ‘Metro’ UI.”

Gurman reports, “‘Flat’ design is based on simplicity and pushes aside heavy textures and digital metaphors of real-life objects found in skeumorphic interfaces. ‘Flatness’ could also point to a more streamlined interface across the entire system that can stand the test of time.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Arline M.,” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

92 Comments

      1. And you will no longer need a colour monitor or screen – based upon the hints we have ben getting with the minimisation of icons and the land of bland. One of the things I have always liked about Apple products was the blend of art and technology. I guess those days are fading fast. It is too bad there really is no other alternative.

        Truly disappointed. Been an Apple user since 1983 and an investor since 1991. Never owned any other computer brand since I started using Apple products.

        I am sure I am not the only one who feels disappointed.

        Cheers everyone.

    1. Look at iTunes 11 (on the Mac) for some clues. For one clear example, when you connect an iPod and select it in iTunes, it would present the iPod’s Summary “tab,” with other “tabs” in a row for setting up syncing of Music, Podcasts, etc.

      The tab “skeuomorphism” in previous iTunes versions made it clear that the tabs overlapped, and that you can click on each tab to bring up that particular screen. Now, in the current iTunes, the tabs still work the same way, but they are just words. It’s not clear that you can click on them. AFTER you click on the word to select the “non-tab,” it looks like an indented button. It’s not clear that the “non-tab” screens overlap.

      I’m not sure if this is going to be an overall improvement in Mac OS X or iOS usability. In some places, I found the skeuomorphism annoying and unnecessary, such as the torn-off calendar pages in iCal. In other places, it was very useful to convey intent of the software design.

        1. Danox, that is exactly *opposite* to the way that Apple does business. Apple builds great products for its customers…user experience is the function and the focus. The profits naturally follow.

          Other companies, such as Microsoft, focus on making money and wonder why they fall behind Apple. These companies lack vision and, as SJ famously said, Microsoft has no taste.

      1. Functionality, consistency, intuitiveness, ease of use and stylish has typically been the “fashion of Macintosh and Apple” … the danger of losing any portion of that equation by dumbing down and stripping away for aesthetic simplicity is a horrid idea.

        Flat silhouetted graphics of the retro years may appear “simple, clean and tidy” yet if it does not stay true to the “fashion of Macintosh and Apple” than the possibility is a failure. Metro does not do any justice for the user. Windows cleverly and rightfully took a differentiating visual look from iOS with Titles and Flat graphics – its unappealing and non-intrusive – yet for Apple to follow, will seem Ives has lost his marbles.

        1. another reference if you wish – can be found in OSX 10.8.3 of flat simple silhouetted grey icons on every Side bar.

          lacking luster, not glossy, one dimensional, silhouette like, dull, obtuse, boring, clean, simple, sharp, familiar to the original Macintosh graphics released back in January 1984.

  1. This is phony. The Sources describing most likely just heard through the grapevine. Jony would never just let anyone who is connected to the analysts see the UI.

    1. That’s one thing I love about my Galaxy. Flip notifications and set sounds, brightness, WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth etc. Please Apple allow us to make this changes quickly!

      1. Exactly. Something that seems so simple, tho I don’t work with software or a dev so I could be wrong. As the saying goes, Jail breakers can do it. But I don’t jailbreak. Seems like it would be “Simplicity” enough for Apple.

  2. I just want to be clear fanboys: if Apple goes flat it’s like Window Phone. If it looks like that then they copied MS and the Metro UI.

    But u delusional fuckchops will twist it on such a way that MS copied Apple!

    Can’t wait for the delusion.

    1. Time to come out if the jungle sfgh, don’t you know the war is over?

      Ps Apple has the cash on hand to buy Microsoft, they just choose not to, just remember that.

      1. And like Microshaft doesn’t have money either?

        “Net income in the period that ended March 31 rose 19 percent to $6.06 billion, or 72 cents a share, Microsoft said yesterday in a statement.”

        I think Windows sucks ass, but I’m not delusional enough to think they’re a failure, have no money, and need saving, idiot.

        You get that? Net income is up 19% year-over-year but according you to morons they’re dead. You’ve been saying this same crap for 10 years.

        19% net income gain. Say it.

        1. Yes indeed, Microsoft makes money.

          That said, you have circled and not directly challenged the following comment from @Cold: “Ps Apple has the cash on hand to buy Microsoft, they just choose not to, just remember that.”

          Been there, reality is not easy to deal with sometimes …

          1. How much cash does Apple have “on hand”?
            How much is Microsoft worth?
            How much cash does Microsoft have “on hand”?

            You don’t know the answer to these questions. And even if you did, nobody gives a shit that some idiot said “Apple has enough cash to buy x”. It’s a useless statement.

            If you read Apple’s financial report, you’ll see that they don’t have near as much “cash on hand” as every idiot fanboy and media loser pushes. Much more money than you think is wrapped up in taxes and expenses. Yes, they have cash, but so does Microsoft. It’s much lower than you think on GAAP accounting.

            I’ll stop there idiot.

        1. That’s the best you can do? I guess like Microsoft you need someone else to show you the way. Try these:

          billyjackblack….takes it up the crack
          billyjackblack….likes to grab sack
          billyjackblack….don’t ever turn your back

      1. I generally dislike MS products, but unlike you, I’m not delusional. I don’t give a shit whether it’s MS or Apple or whatever. You make a good product. No, you make one of the best products… AND you solve a problem for me? I’ll buy your product.

        Do you see how delusional you are? You simply refuse to allow anyone to make a compliment to a company that isn’t Apple. All of a sudden, the person making the comment is a MS ass licker.

        Not only are you a delusional fanboy, you’re bipolar. Go research the Metro UI. You’ll find MS did a lot of work on it, including licensing one of the best fonts in the world, and tweaking it.

        I think it has a lot of problems on mobile devices, but for the Web and some of the desktop, it works.

        1. I generally don’t approve of ad hom attacks, but taking your comments as a whole you are starting to at least write like an MS ass-licker. Or perhaps it is internet sarcasm. One can never tell without an end tag.

            1. re sfgh
              “As the dumbest guy in the room, we’d like to award you $5 if you shut up for a week.”

              PUHS-LEASE MDN — institute my suggested policy of “must be eight years old to post”.
              or alternative policy, “Must not merely be a belligerent asshole to post.”
              or alternative policy 2, “Must post without any swear words or name-calling, and use grown-up language.”

    2. @sfgh
      Thanks for your penetrating insight and valuable contribution to this discussion. No doubt many here found your profound thinking a real shining light in their otherwise dull day of delusion.

    3. Sorry, shitferbrains, but MS Windows Mobile, Metro or whatever they’re calling it at the moment, has squares laid out as windows or panes. A flattened version of iOS will NOT look anything like MS’s OS, and that’s a given.
      And shouldn’t you be in bed?

      1. Are you ready you shitforbrains? See how mine is spelled correctly and yours is spelled like how a redneck would spell “for”>”fer”…. because, wait for it, you are a redneck! And delusional. And unskilled in tech and design.

        The MS Windows Metro UI IS a flat UI. It defines a flat interface in every single way. It’s completely irrelevant how they choose to layout their OS.

        Read the fucking article again and process at least 20% of it:

        “Another source framed the new OS as having a level of ‘flatness’ approaching recent releases of Microsoft’s Windows Phone ‘Metro’ UI.”

        Flat means a loss of gloss, gradients, shine, texture… all these latter are what completely and absolutely defines Apple’s often referred to “crayola” design. Instead, you lose the gradients, the shine, the drop shadows… and you go post-modern: minimal, simple, clean. It’s flat. That’s what flat means. That’s what it is. Completely opposite of what Apple’s design language is now.

        It’s got its benefits but it also has it’s problems: hit areas aren’t as clearly demarcated from one another. This is problematic on mobile devices with small screens. It’s harder for users to distinguish the different elements on screen. You also feel like you’re really engaging in much but a flat surface: it loses it’s virtual haptic feel.

        Anyway, I could on, but you’re such a bafoon it’s hopeless.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t drawing clean interface lines be a more elegant and effective solution to the scaling of the iOS platform on variously-sized screens? Moreso than scaling skeuomorphic images and elements individually? If so, if welcome it, along with a 5″ iPhone.

  4. The iOS UI should not be an attention seeker constantly trying to dazzle the users. It should be about efficiency. This is more of an anti-Android approach to where Jony and the Apple regime continue their quest to achieve even great simplicity than ever before.

  5. Once again, Microsoft leads and Apple follows … right! If I read another article about the new flat look in iOS 7 and it’s resemblance to Metro from hitwhores that haven’t seen iOS 7 I’m going to throw-up.

  6. Actually, both Android and Windows Phone UIs are very “plain” and “flat”, so making iOS look this bland does not promise any good.

    Also, there are two different parts of skeuomorphism:

    1) structural: shelf-like pictures for iBooks, physical notebook/caldendar-like apps, so on;

    2) rich background textures (for example, as in “Find My Friends”).

    I do not care much about the first part or even maybe would prefer it go away, but I am totally against getting rid of rich background textures like leather, wood or whatever.

    That said, there is no real information about iOS 7/OS X design yet, so there is no way to be outraged about anything.

    1. Totally agree.

      Why would Jony want to emulate, or some dare say, copy the bland flatness of Android and Windows UIs at this time?

      From the article: “Jobs, according to the same profile of Apple’s design work, was, like Forstall, a proponent of life-like interfaces.”

      Why? The answer is obvious.

      Steve was convinced toddlers to senior citizens recognize representational images much faster than other designs. Not everyone in the world attends art school or visits the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. The communication level to a larger audience was more important to Steve’s Apple than negative reviews from the modern art opening night reception wine and cheese crowd.

      Since the debut of OSX in 2001, the icon illustrations have been recognizable and consistent going forward to iOS. Abandoning that approach in favor of an abstract linear look will certainly invite critical copying critiques, from competitors here and elsewhere. And App developers will face the same pressure dilemma to visually conform.

      As we all know the new look is simply a guess at this point. But more and more all signs point to the current recognizable images most likely will DIE FOREVER trashed in the dustbin of history.

      Like shows of Bugs Bunny and Johnny Quest, et al, on my local cable provider.

      Second quote from the article: “But before Forstall, it was Steve Jobs who encouraged the skeuomorphic approach, some say.”

      Wish you were here, Steve. You were in-tuned with the masses over the elite classes.

      That said, we shall see.

  7. On the surface of “Nature” is rich and fascinating. Nature is incredibly complicated underlining all that it is when studied; science still haven’t discovered all its truths. This is the beauty. iOS could be regarded in the same way.

    However, to stripe down and remove all the rich communication of its icons in attempt to dumb it down, BEST NOT mimic that of which we see in Metro. Be careful Jony.

    1. Agreed and as for ‘standing the test of time’ or ‘copying MS’ I will say it again this would, if taken to extreme be a pure and simple copy of late 70s/early 80s graphic design which once technology allowed and the sophisticated overtook the spartan, was thrown into the dustbin of mediocrity outside of clip art anyway. Whatever Ive comes up with it has to go beyond such dated iconography exemplified in Metro (as if coloured boxes disguises it yawn) but I guess only time will tell.

  8. Jony is the perfect choice to overhaul the UI in iOS. As Jobs said, he has taste, but the reason why he has won countless awards and accolades is because he understands that design is there to make things not just more beautiful but more functional and to create an emotional response from users. I imagine that designing a UI will be hugely challenging for him but I’m sure his humility and sheer talent will make iOS7 one of the most exciting things Apple has ever done. I bet the comparisons with Windows Phone will seem ludicrous when we finally see it and I can’t wait!

    1. I do hope you are right and I do still trust J to develop a new metaphor rather than simply look backwards like Metro does but I have seen great designers lose the plot if they start to believe all the hype so I remain a little nervous especially as this is a new and perhaps unfamiliar area or him and can’t help but get that image of Steve’s yacht designed by supposedly one of Europe’s most innovative and respected designers where I presume no one had the guts to actually express any reservations along the way despite the abomination that was finally launched. Yes I will remain nervous but hopeful.

      1. I admit I’m a bit nervous too, especially since he has no experience in this area, but I’m comforted by the thought that he has a lot of support and input from the best people in the world. We’ll have to wait and see.

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