Apple may have opened Pandora’s Box with iOS 7

“Software developers who create apps for Apple’s iOS platform have had a fairly easy go of things,” Mike Schuster writes for Minyanville.

“Thanks to Apple’s highly regulated “walled garden,” iOS apps have been built upon a very standard and very consistent set of design elements and guidelines that remained relatively unchanged since the platform’s launch in 2007,” Schuster writes. “Actionable items such as menu buttons and setting toggles maintained a uniformity that not only kept apps looking consistent but also familiarized users with a standard interface that spanned across Apple’s entire mobile ecosystem… iOS stayed the course and never instituted an interface change that forced developers to rethink and redesign their work. That is, up until a few weeks ago.”

Schuster writes, “By and large, analysts and users are thrilled to see Apple finally update its iOS platform, but its success depends on how quickly (and how adeptly) developers adapt to its totally new set of guidelines. We’ll just have to wait and see how many will survive the migration and how many are willing to bring older users along for the ride.”

Much more in the full article here.


    1. For months and months, it was “Apple has to change because iOS is SO OLD AND BORING!”

      Now, it’s “Oh my god, Apple changed iOS! Biggest mistake EVER! Why didn’t they stay the course?”

      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Morons, these analysts and commentators are!

  1. I can’t imagine what it would mean for software developers to expect that there would never be a major change–does anyone write an App and think that it will be usable until the end of all time?

    Gatsby is timeless, software is changeable.

    1. Yes. Once an app is finished, works well and is released for a device, an O/S update should not require the developers to have to drastically update their code. Apples dev model is horrendous in this respect.

  2. Good! iOS developers have had things a little bit too easy, judging by the size and quality of the App store selection. A paradigm shift would create opportunities for innovative developers while weeding out lazier developers.

  3. “We’ll just have to wait and see how many will survive the migration and how many are willing to bring older users along for the ride.”

    The author would have done well to use some context here.

    1. iOS apps have a disproportionate share of total revenue. This suggests that developers will likely stick with iOS.

    2. adoption of the new iOS is usually quick and a fairly high percentage of users. I do not have the exact numbers, but that argues that “fragmentation” should not be much of an issue. Sure, it will be the biggest possibility of iOS fragmentation yet, but Android still has far more OS versions being used and far more screen sizes.

    Two interesting things from the full article:
    1. “Instapaper founder Marco Arment didn’t mince words concerning how this could affect some of the bigger names in the app world. ‘I don’t think most developers of mature, non-trivial apps are going to have an easy time migrating them well to iOS 7.’ He added, ‘Even if they overcome the technical barriers, the resulting apps just won’t look and feel right. They won’t fool anyone.'”

    I’m not really sure why an app HAS to change their overall design, but I’m not a developer. Also, the irony here is that “flat” design style is quite popular with apps right now – I wonder how many will really need to change their overall design.

    The article is written by “Mike Schuster, Minyanville”
    “Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.”

    1. If Instapaper founder Marco Arment is acting like a big slow company that wants to resist change, then it is time for a new innovative and nimble company to come in and kick his but!

  4. It is an accepted virtue that when Steve Jobs stood on the MacWorld 2007 stage to introduce the iPhone that its user interface was light years ahead of the prevailing mobile OSes that were out there at that time. Steve even said that it was five years ahead of its time.

    One of the unspoken virtues of the original iOS design was that it brought in and realised the concept of three dimensional icons that looked and felt like using their real world counterpart. It was like a breath of fresh air amidst all the uniform grey and flat icons that were prevalent at the time. iOS brought in the concept of saturated colors and eye popping icons that, in the words of Steve Jobs, “made you want to lick the screen.”

    Now with the change to flatness, Apple is reverting to old school style icons, icons that were made obsolete by the gorgeous iOS icons and now rehabiliated in the name of fashion and following the latest trends; trends that were set by Microsoft Windows Phone and Google Android.

    It makes identifying tasks that much more difficult because icons and their signposts are flattened to the degree that they merge into the background thereby depriving the user of visual cues, which was the main reason why iOS is such a hit for people of all ages, from a three year old child mesmerised by the shimmering icons to a seventy year old grandfather admiring the bright shiny icons because it helped him to navigate the interface without outside assistance.

    600 million users cannot be wrong. By turning his back on Steve Jobs’ creation, Jonny Ives is not setting a precedent, rather he is turning back the hands of the clock to a more primordial age of mobile computing.

    iOS 7 sucks.

    1. “600 million users cannot be wrong.” Really? Those 600 million users had a say in iOS’ design? They were determining color schemes, amount of icon wiggle, whether to swipe left or right to effect a change?

      Whatever. I think all of these rants and raves are absolutely stupid by people who haven’t spent any time with iOS 7. Just like how people whined and moaned all over the place when the iPhone 5 was announced, that it wasn’t a big enough change, they changed their tune quickly when they held the device and actually used it.

      1. Those 600 million users validated the original iOS design qualities. If the original iOS had been as poorly designed as iOS 7 is currently, people would have voted with their feet and bought into another mobile platform instead.

        So yes, those users had a say in the design of iOS because had it not broken the mould of flat, plastic designs prevailing at the time, the iPhone would have died a death there and then.

        Besides the new design changes bring nothing new to the table that has not been already developed elsewhere and seen in other platforms. So what is iOS 7 bringing to the table in terms of icon design? Nothing.

    2. Probably the least important and most talked about feature of IOS 7 are the beta icons.
      If that’s all you have to worry about then you are not using your iPhone enough.

    3. Of course, in time, your claims will vaporize when so many migrate to iOS7. You also miss out on realizing the new iOS preserves a lot of the familiarity with the current OS. Just like OS-X, things get refined and better with time. That’s Apple 😉

  5. Just another negative story about absolutely NOTHING!
    Developers are excited about the changes. There is no pandora’s box. Apple pays developers very well for there apps and they know that Android does not and Microsoft has a dead platform already so it would be a waste of time to go with them. Non-issue irrelevant story trying to stir up FUD.

  6. Fundamentally flawed article! Go look at a handful of your favorite iOS apps. Have they not already implemented their own UI design? Launch Angry Birds… see any standard Apple iOS UI in there? Launch Keynote… the welcome screen has a completely non-standard “Continue” button… the workspace for working on your presentation is custom presentation of consistent underlying technologies, but visually there is only a small nod to the standard UI elements.

    In short: Developers have to provide a consistent atmosphere for their app and distinguish their app from everyone else’s.

  7. Opened “Pandora’s Box”? This article makes it sound like Apple is going from having strict design standards to “open” standards (like Android). In reality, Apple is just updating its standards. Old set of standard to new set of standards. And the new set of standards is probably MORE uniform and consistent.. It’s called PROGRESS…

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